9-Week Racing Season Begins Thursday, July 13
NEW KENT, Va. (June 23, 2023) – Horse vans began arriving in earnest as the stable area at Colonial Downs opened June 19 in advance of the New Kent, Va., racetrack’s 2023 season which spans 27 days from Thursday, July 13 through Saturday, September 9.
A record $5.25 million in stakes purses and an average daily purse distribution of $700,000 (includes stakes) ensures the 2023 meet will offer some of the best Thoroughbred racing ever seen in the Commonwealth, topped by the G1 Arlington Million, G1 $500,000 Beverly D., and G2 $500,000 Secretariat Stakes on Saturday, August 12, plus the G3 $500,000 Virginia Derby and $250,000 Virginia Oaks which will highlight the Saturday, September 9 card.
Weekend racing returns for the first time since 2019 with live racing scheduled every Thursday, Friday and Saturday with a first post time of 1:30 p.m.
Colonial Downs again will have a full complement of 850 horses on its backstretch. Among the first horses to arrive were those from the barn of Kelsey Danner, shipping in from Kentucky; Virginia mainstays Karen Godsey, Woodbery Payne and David Bourke; and Angel Rodriguez, arriving from his Florida home base.
“People remember when I was 16 and hotwalking, learning the ropes around here. The quality from what used to be here compared to what is here now is unreal. It is so nice to see bigger outfits, nice quality horses and big stakes race days in New Kent,” said Godsey.
She moved 18 horses in last Wednesday during a rainstorm and has six more to bring, for a total of 24.
“I’m pretty excited about this year. For some reason, I just feel my string has really come around — a lot further along than I thought they’d be at this point. My older horses are pretty talented and the young Virginia-Certified and Virginia-Bred babies have some pretty nice pedigrees to them and think they’re going to do pretty well. I don’t think I have one in the barn that I don’t want to have right now.”
“I have a lot of turf horses and the purses there are great,” added Mark Casse, a member of both the Canadian and American Halls of Fame, who will have a full contingent here for the first time. “Seeing the opportunities there, it just made sense.”
Casse mentioned that he is considering the G1 Arlington Million for Strong Quality who was fifth in the G1 Manhattan at Belmont on June 10.
The first horse on the track June 23 when training began was Payne’s young filly, Wine and Roses. “This is a Vino Rosso who is a first-year stallion and is very popular,” he said. “She is typical of a bigger, rangier type. She is very promising and is owned by the Pewter Stable out of Pennsylvania. They sent her down to Colonial and get her ready. Everybody appreciates how good this facility is for training and prepping horses.”
“Colonial has established its niche in the market and people are following the money,” he added. “You can tell by the stall list on the backside — there’s going to be formidable competition here this year. I think Virginia is on the upswing. I’ve got some solid 2-year-olds in the stable and the Virginia-Certified program is ultimately why I have them based here instead of at other tracks. People want to take advantage of the Certified races.”
Other trainers expected for the 2023 meet include Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen; Graham Motion, winner of both the 2019 and 2021 editions of the G3 Virginia Derby; last year’s leading trainer Mike Stidham; Jonathan Thomas; Mike Trombetta; and Michelle Lovell.
Colonial has added an Early 50-cent Pick 5 with a fan-friendly 12% takeout to the wagering menu covering the first five flat races daily and a $1 Pick 6 with a 15% takeout which covers the final six races each day.
All races from Colonial Downs can be seen daily on either FanDuel TV or FanDuel Racing. In house, Jason Beem returns for his fifth season at the mic while Kaitlin Free joins the broadcast team as racing analyst and paddock host.
About Colonial Downs
Colonial Downs Racetrack, in New Kent, Virginia, hosts live thoroughbred racing on two nationally renowned surfaces – the Secretariat Turf Course, the widest turf course in North America at 180 feet wide and on a 1 1/4-mile dirt track, second in length to only the world-famous Belmont Park.
The Colonial Downs Group, which is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN), also operates Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums® in Richmond, Hampton, New Kent, Vinton, and Dumfries which offer innovative historic horseracing (HHR) gaming technology and full card simulcasting as well as Rosie’s Game Room in Collinsville, which features a limited selection of some of their best HHR titles plus full card simulcasting. The 2023 live racing season, which consists of 27 days from July 13 through September 9, is highlighted by the Grade 1 Arlington Million, Grade 1 Beverly D. and Grade 2 Secretariat Stakes on August 12 and the Grade 3 New Kent County Virginia Derby on September 9. The Beverly D. is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win & You’re In” race.