(NEW KENT, VA — 7/11/2022) — Colonial Downs kicked off its “More Racing, More Money, More Fun” summer racing season in grand fashion Monday, with a large crowd on hand, a record opening day handle and “Chamber of Commerce”-type weather.
A crowd of 3,077 — up 23% from last year’s opener, saw 11 races, ten of which were over the Secretariat Turf Course. Two non-betting steeplechase races kicked off the afternoon festivities followed by nine flat races including a four-pack of $125,000 turf stakes races for Virginia-bred/sired horses. Total handle of $3,029,205 was an all time record for opening day, up 13% from last year’s $2.6 million day.
“It’s great to see opening day results signal a successful race meet to come,” said John Marshall, Executive Vice-President of Operations. “We thank our horsemen for committing to Colonial, our team for executing on service and the public for believing in the entertainment and wagering value of Colonial Downs. These results do not come easy in times like these and are driven by a genuine team effort. If you liked what you saw today, stay tuned for more to come!”
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ Largent connected for the second time in the Edward P. Evans Stakes, capturing the ’22 edition by one-half length over fast closing Alex Joon. The 6-year-old Into Mischief gelding, who entered the race with $504,320 in earnings, won the 2020 Evans in his only other New Kent start.
Paco Lopez led the effort for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher in the one-mile turf event. Largent raced second behind Passion Play — winner of the ’21 Evans — until midway through the second turn when he made his move. The winner took control by 2 1/2 lengths at the top of the stretch then crossed in 1:35.81 to record his seventh career win from 14 starts. Kendama finished third.
D. Hatman Thoroughbreds and Kingdom Bloodstock’s Determined Kingdom powered home by 5 1/2 lengths in the $125,000 Punch Line Stakes with Trevor McCarthy aboard. The 3-year-old Animal Kingdom gelding, winner of last year’s Jamestown Stakes at Colonial, was fresh off a victory in the James Murphy Stakes at Laurel a month ago. 2019 Jamestown Stakes winner Embolden finished second and ’21 Punch Line winner Boldor was third.
Lothenbach Stables’ Mo Clare’s authored a gate-to-wire performance in the 1 1/16 miles Brookmeade Stakes for fillies and mares. The 5-year-old Uncle Mo mare crossed in 1:43.22, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of ’21 Brookmeade winner Urban Fairytale. Winning trainer Chris Block’s 30-horse stable is competing in Virginia for the first time.
Sam English II’s Chambeau had a most impressive career debut Monday with a gate-to-wire effort in the 5 1/2-furlong M. Tyson Gilpin Stakes. Led by Colonial’s all-time leading rider Horacio Karamanos, the 5-year-old daughter of Japan-bred Karakontie crossed 3 1/4 lengths the best in 1:03.64. Susan Cooney’s Carolina Sun finished second and Eagle Point Farm’s Tea In China took third.
Two big payoffs also highlighted opening days festivities. The first race was won by Allison Fulmer’s The Happy Giant won went off at 26-1 and paid $55.80. Biggest payout of the day came from Andy Dion’s Luca Drew the Ace who was sent off at 51-1 — and prevailed. The 5-year-old Field Commission gelding returned $105.20 and triggered a $1 trifecta payout of $52,170.
Racing resumes Tuesday at Colonial with a 9-race card beginning at 1:45 PM.