A total of 25 stakes races worth more than $2.7 million will be offered at the upcoming seven-week Thoroughbred racing season at Colonial Downs — from July 19 through Sept. 1 — featuring a minimum $500,000 in average daily purses, the Grade 3 $250,000 New Kent County Virginia Derby on Aug. 31, enhanced horsemen incentives, and an expanded racing program for Virginia bred, sired, and certified horses. Racing will take place every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with first post at 1:45 PM. All Colonial Downs races will be televised on TVG.
This year’s meet has been increased by three days over last year’s scheduled 18-day meeting, which was cut short due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The barn area, expected to be full, will open Monday July 5.
Popular horsemen incentive bonus programs return this season. All owners who start a horse at Colonial Downs will receive the greater of $1,000 or their share of the purse money from the race. All trainers will receive $300 per horse started. The VHBPA is also offering a dirt race trainer bonus in races with a claiming price of $25,000 or less. The bonuses range from $200 for a win to $50 for fourth thru last.
Among the stakes program highlights this year are:
*The July 19 opening-day program will feature four $100,000 stakes on turf that include three Virginia-Restricted — the Bert Allen, Meadow Stable and M. Tyson Gilpin Stakes — and a Virginia Bred/Sired — The Nellie Mae Cox Stakes.
*The Monday, July 26 card will include three open stakes on turf, headlined by the $150,000 Buckland along with two $100,000 races— the Andy Guest for fillies and mares and the Da Hoss for 3-year-olds and up.
*On Monday, Aug. 23, Colonial will host four $100,000 stakes in the Mid-Atlantic Championship Series (MATCH) Series on the dirt track: The Victory Gallop, Love Sign, Chesapeake and Seeking The Pearl. The 2021 MATCH Series is a cooperative venture between Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the MJC, VHBPA and Colonial Downs.
*Virginia Derby Day is slated for Tuesday, Aug. 31, and in addition to the 18th annual renewal of the G3 Virginia Derby, four other grass stakes will be on the card — the $150,000 Virginia Oaks, $150,000 TAA Old Nelson, $100,000 Exacta Systems Rosie’s Stakes and $100,000 Kitten’s Joy.
*Five $100,000 turf stakes for Virginia-Bred/Sired horses are scheduled on closing day. The Jamestown, Camptown, Brookmeade, Edward P. Evans and Punch Line will highlight the Sept. 1 finale. All are black-type events except for the Punch Line.
*Three additional $100,000 Virginia-restricted stakes dot the calendar as well. The Hickory Tree and Keswick Stables Stakes highlight the Aug. 2 program while the Van Clief is a week later on Aug. 9.
Colonial Downs and the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association (VHBPA) will combine forces to make a $30 donation to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) for every horse that starts in a race at the New Kent track this summer. That donation total, from three years of racing (2019-2021), will exceed $100,000. The TAA is also presenting the $150,000 Old Nelson Stakes which is part of the Virginia Derby under card.
Colonial Downs will be able to welcome fans back for the 2021 summer season. Per the Governor’s most recent Covid update, there are no longer crowd size restrictions or social distancing requirements at entertainment venues and sporting events in the Commonwealth. Fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear face coverings in most situations. Both indoor and outdoor seating is available at the New Kent track.
Colonial Downs began racing again in 2019 under new management of Colonial Downs Group. According to a newly released study conducted by Chmura Economics & Analytics, Virginia’s horse racing and breeding industry generated an estimated economic impact of $542.1 million in the Commonwealth in 2019. Industry jobs, racing related expenditures and tax revenue have all risen since the General Assembly passed legalization of Historical Horse Racing machines in 2018, which enabled Colonial Downs to open and fuel the sport’s revitalization.
For further meet details, visit colonialdowns.com, vabred.org or virginiahorseracing.com.