Virginia Racing Commission Approves Colonial Downs Expanded 2022 Meet Dates

Fresh on the heels of a record setting thoroughbred racing season in 2021, racing dates for an expanded 2022 Colonial Downs Race Meet presented by Woodford Reserve were approved December 15 at the Virginia Racing Commission (VRC) meeting which was held at the New Kent track. 

The Colonial barn area will open on June 27 for the 2022 meet in New Kent (Coady Photography).

The number of race days will increase from 21 to 27, and daily average purse monies will rise from $522,000 in 2021 to an expected $600,000 in 2022. 

The upcoming 9-week campaign will run from July 11 – September 7. The race day schedule will mirror the ’21 slate, with racing every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 1:30 PM (EDT).  

The highly successful 2021 meet featured 21 race days and an average daily betting handle of $2,240,000. A total of $10.4 million in purse monies were distributed and average field size was a healthy 8.36 starters per race. 

Colonial’s Secretariat Turf Course is the country’s widest (Coady Photography).

“This is very positive news for Colonial Downs for 2022 with two extra weeks of racing, which is significant,” said Jill Byrne, Colonial’s VP of Racing Operations. “We’re keeping our schedule the same as last year, running afternoon programs early in the week. The attitude for the time being is, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. We want to expand on finally getting our product consistent and out there in the marketplace, and to let bettors and horsemen know that Colonial Downs is back and at a very high level.”

Commenting on the race day application and approval process, J. Sargeant Reynolds, Chairman of the Virginia Racing Commission, said, “When the track and horsemen can come to us together, thats 7/8ths of it, as long as they get along and what they want is reasonable. I’m very happy. All parties have done an excellent job.”

Colonial Downs is family friendly especially between races when pony horses congregate along the fence line.

Debbie Easter, Executive Director of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association, thinks Colonial Downs will benefit from the longer meet. “Besides another increase in purse money, we need the extended days and weeks to make it worthwhile for trainers from other states to move their operations here. If we run too short a meet, it’s not worth it financially for them to come, so we’re trying to get to that spot.” 

Details on the 2022 stakes schedule, including the Grade 3 Virginia Derby, will be announced in the coming weeks. Colonial Downs is home to the Secretariat Turf Course, widest grass racing surface in the country, and a 1 1/4 miles dirt oval, second longest only to Belmont’s 1 1/2 miles track.

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