Preparations Continue for Colonial Downs “More Racing, More Money” Opening Day on July 11

The 2022 thoroughbred racing season at Colonial Downs presented by Woodford Reserve is just around the corner and preparations are underway to make the “More Racing, More Money” 9-week meet in New Kent the best ever. 

An average of $625,000 in purse money — a record amount — will be distributed daily. A $3.5 million stakes schedule is highlighted by the 19th running of the Grade 3, $300,000 New Kent County Virginia Derby on September 6. Owner and trainer bonus incentives are a big highlight of the meet too. Owners will receive the greater of $1,000 or their share of purse money from each race while trainers will receive $300 per horse started. 

The season runs from July 11 – September 7 with racing every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 1:45 PM. Two non-betting steeplechase races will be held every Monday at 12:30 PM before the pari-mutuel card begins. 

Owners of Virginia-Bred and Virginia-Sired horses will earn a 50% bonus on 1st to 4th place finishes in all open races. Developers of Virginia-Certified horses will earn 25% more for wins in open races and Breeders of Virginia-bred horses will earn awards for all wins at Colonial, in addition to any win in North America.   

Opening day features four $125,000 stakes for Virginia-Bred/Sired horses — the Edward P. Evans, Punch Line, M. Tyson Gilpin and Brookmeade — while closing day provides a perfect bookend to the campaign with four $150,000 stakes for Virginia-restricted horses — the Meadow Stable, Camptown, Bert Allen and Nellie Mae Cox — along with the $125,000 Jamestown Stakes for 2-year-old Virginia-bred/sired freshmen.

Virginia Thoroughbred Association (VTA) members can enjoy action every day in the VTA’s Hospitality Sky Suite on the 4th floor (except Derby Day). On race days, VTA members can simply take an elevator to the 4th floor level and present member credentials to receive access to the suite. Light appetizers and beverages will be served, along with the best view in the house.

Three special event day celebrations will be held as well during the meet. The VTA/VAHBPA Opening Day Picnic will be held in the trackside General Admission Tent from 12:30 – 3:30 PM on July 11. A complimentary lunch will be served. A similar closing day luncheon will be held on September 7 — Virginia-Restricted Stakes Day — with a location still to be determined. Finally, a special Legislators Day event will take place on Virginia Derby Day. A $50 admission ticket will provide attendees access to the 4th floor level and a lunch on the track’s biggest day of the season. More details are available at

Stalls are currently being allocated and indications are that all 840 spaces in the barn area will be filled. New stables from Illinois include Larry Rivelli’s (80 horses), Chris Block’s (30 horses) along with outfits from trainers Tony Mitchell and Joel Campbell. Some of the top returning conditioners include Michelle Lovell, Michael Stidham, Phil Schoenthal, Mike Tomlinson and Susan Cooney among others.

Hamilton Smith was leading trainer at the 2021 Colonial Downs meet.

Colonial Downs and the Virginia HBPA will partner in an initiative to support the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA). Since 2019, both parties have pledged $15 per start at the Colonial meet to benefit TAA. A $50,000 check was presented to the TAA between races last September.   

“Colonial Downs is once again proud to support the TAA throughout our 2022 racing season,” said Jill Byrne, Colonial’s VP of Racing Operations. “The care of horses during and after their racing careers is of the upmost importance, and the work the TAA does to ensure that this is accomplished, is extraordinary. We are delighted to have the TAA back at Colonial Downs for Virginia Derby Day.” 

Training on the main track will be available every day but Thursday and turf training will be available on Wednesdays. A condition book is online at   


Fans will again enjoy free parking and free admission every day. Five different giveaway days are scheduled including a Secretariat T-Shirt on opening day and a camouflage hat on MATCH Series Day, August 16.  And for the first time in 21 years, Colonial Downs will race on Labor Day afternoon, giving families a chance to enjoy summer’s last holiday in an affordable and fun atmosphere. 

For bettors, Colonial will lower the takeout rate on its 50-cent Pick 5 wager to just 12% and the bet will offer a carryover provision for the first time. On days when nobody picks all 5 winners, 25% of the net pool will be paid to those who correctly select the most winners while the remaining 75% will be carried over to the following day’s program. Also new this year is a Monday Mid-Atlantic Pick-4 wager during the month of August that will feature two races each at both Colonial and Monmouth.