Mid-Winter Virginia Horse Racing Updates

Colonial Downs 2021 Thoroughbred Race Dates Approved by Virginia Racing Commission 

Colonial Downs received Virginia Racing Commission approval for a 21-day thoroughbred race season this summer in New Kent that will extend over a seven- week period in New Kent.  The meet will begin July 19 and continue every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday through September 1. The track is now in its third season under ownership of the Colonial Downs Group. The stable area and track will open for training on July 5 and will close on September 8.

The 2021 thoroughbred season at Colonial Downs will run from July 19 – September 1.

“Purses are projected to average at least $500,000 per day absent any unforseen events like an increase of the pandemic beyond its current intensity,” said Frank Petramalo, Virginia HBPA Executive Director. “I think most horsemen by nature have to be optimists otherwise they wouldn’t last very long in the racing business. Let’s hope a successful 2021 meet will erase the memory of last summer’s Covid-related cancellation after just 6 race days.”

Colonial will again offer a diverse stakes program in 2021 highlighted by the Grade 3 Virginia Derby on August 31 and a lucrative Virginia-bred stakes schedule. ​More details will be announced in the coming days at colonialdowns.com. 

In other Colonial Downs news, a fifth Rosie’s Gaming Emporium opened on January 8 and it marked the first one in Northern Virginia. Located in Dumfries, the site features 150 Historical Horse Racing (HHR) terminals, a simulcast OTB area, smoking & non-smoking sections, a high rollers room, a small restaurant and a lounge. The Rosie’s is located in the Triangle Shopping Center on Route 1, two miles from the Quantico exit off I-95. Other Rosie’s locations are in Richmond, Hampton, New Kent and Vinton.   


The Colonial Downs Group opened their 5th Rosie’s Gaming Emporium in Dumfries, Virginia on January 8th.

Virginia 2020 Online Betting Handle on Horse Racing Increases 56% Over Prior Year 

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced tracks and OTBs to close temporarily last spring, horseplayers gravitated toward online wagering en masse.  

Handle figures from Virginia racing’s four Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) partner companies — TVG, Xpressbet, Twinspires and NYRABets — which were healthy already — began to steadily grow in early spring. Come summer, fall and early winter, online business surged. By year’s end, handle had grown by 56.4% over 2019. Virginia residents placed $135,486,989 in wagers in 2020 versus $86,629,347 the previous year. 

Virginia-bred Largent won the Bert Allen Stakes at Laurel. Photo by Jim McCue.

Top ADW handle producer was TVG, whose $70,827,157 handle represented a 70.80% gain over last year’s $41,468,459. TVG averaged $193,487 in bets per day. Twinspires was next with $39,771,460, a 32.69% increase. Xpressbet, third overall, experienced a 53.07% boost while handling $18,209,171 in wagers. And NYRABets, newest of the four, had a triple digit business increase over 2019. Their 2020 handle of $6,679,199 was 102.8% better.

Virginia-Bred, Virginia-Sired, Virginia-Certified & Virginia-Owned Horses All Have Recent Shining Moments

Virginia-bred Largent, who competed in the $1 Million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational January 23, scored a come-from-behind victory — his biggest to date — in the Fort Lauderdale Stakes (G2) December 12. With Paco Lopez aboard for the first time, Largent ($35.80) swept to the lead on the far outside approaching the stretch and outran fellow longshots Breaking the Rules and Doswell late to win by two lengths. 

Mr. Buff wins the Empire Classic Handicap at Belmont. Photo by Chelsea Durand.

The 5-year-old Into Mischief gelding, who was bred at Lazy Lane Farm in Upperville, had two Virginia-bred stakes wins in 2020. He won the Edward P. Evans at Colonial Downs July 29 over the New Kent track’s Secretariat Turf Course, and the Bert Allen at Laurel October 9. The Todd Pletcher trainee has been great so far with six wins and three runner-up finishes in nine career starts.

Million dollar earning Virginia-sired Mr. Buff won his 15th career race October 24, taking the $175,000 Empire Classic Handicap in frontrunning fashion at Belmont for the second consecutive year. The New York-bred went off as second favorite in a 1 1/8 miles test, took the lead with 7 1/2 furlongs to go and powered home to a 3 1/4 length win. 

Chester and Mary Broman’s impressive 6-year-old homebred is by Friend or Foe, who stands at Robin Mellen’s Smallwood Farm in Crozet. 

Street Lute captured the Xtra Heat Stakes at Laurel January 16. Photo by Jim McCue.

Mr. Buff started 2020 with dominant gate-to-wire stakes wins in the Haynesfield, by 20 lengths with a 106 Beyer speed figure, and in the Jazil, by five lengths. Overall, Mr. Buff has nine stakes wins — all at New York tracks —and earnings of $1,240,786.   Virginia-certified Street Lute, cutting back to six furlongs for the first time in two months, ran her win streak to four races — all in stakes — with a dominant five-length triumph in the $100,000 Xtra Heat Stakes January 16 at Laurel.

A neck shy of being undefeated in seven career starts, Street Lute ran six furlongs in 1:10.31 over a fast main track under regular rider Xavier Perez in her 3-year-old season opener.Street Lute overcame an early career eye injury and subsequent surgery to win her debut, delayed to September, 2020, at Delaware Park. The Street Magician filly has since won the Small Wonder, Smart Halo, Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship and Gin Talking Stakes.
Her six-month Virginia residency was spent at Diana McClure’s DMC Carousel Racing Stable in Berryville. With the Xtra Heat win, Street Lute’s bankroll increased to $350,000. She is owned by the Lucky 7 Stables. 

Extravagant Kid won the 2019 Da Hoss Stakes at Colonial Downs. Photo by Coady Photography.

Virginia-owned Extravagant Kid capped off a solid 2020 campaign, finishing fourth a 14-horse Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint field November 7 at Keeneland. It marked the second “Cup” start for Extravagant Kid’s owner David Ross, a Virginia businessman, President of the Virginia HBPA, and Colonial Downs’ all-time leading owner. His Perfect Officer finished third in the same race in 2011. 

Heading into the “Cup” race, Ross’s sprinter had 14 wins from 45 career starts and earnings of $902,210. The Florida-bred had won six stakes including the Sunshine Millions Sprint last January. The come from behind effort provided a $50,000 payday and pushed Extravagant Kid’s bankroll even closer to the $1 million mark ($952,210).  

A Pittsburgh area native, Ross was the leading owner at Colonial for seven straight years, from 2005-2011. He has won a total of 137 races at the New Kent track.