The first meet at Colonial Downs in a half-dozen years concluded Saturday evening, a 15-day stand marked by strong support not just from the nearby Midlantic region, but from horsemen from 17 different states, healthy field sizes and and a lucrative daily purse structure.
Total handle on the 144 races that took place between Aug. 8 and Sept. 7 topped $17.58 million, while average daily handle was over $1.172 million. A total of $6,406,400 was distributed in total purses during the meeting, and over $1.5 million was in stakes purses. Some 1,229 horses faced the starter from as far afield as California and Minnesota for an average field size of 8.53 runners, and track officials reported no racing or training fatalities from the time the barn area opened July 25.
“On behalf of all of us at Colonial Downs, we are truly proud of our outstanding race meeting and the overwhelming response from our participating owners, trainers and jockeys and national racing media who embraced the return of Thoroughbred racing for our fans here in Virginia and across North America,” said Jill Byrne, Vice President of Racing Operations for Colonial Downs. “We are equally thankful for the dedication and support demonstrated by our racing department, officials and our track maintenance team, which worked long hours with great efficiency in conducting a safe and successful racing program.”
Capital improvements to the New Kent facility included a new irrigation for Colonial’s Secretariat turf course, renovations to the 10-furlong dirt oval, stable area and paddock, receiving and test barn and dormitories and a new jockey’s room kitchen.
“The Virginia HBPA, on behalf of all the owners and trainers who participated in Colonial’s meet, is absolutely delighted with its outcome,” said Frank Petramalo, Executive Director of the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. “The purses were great, races were very competitive and the track conditions were outstanding. We couldn’t have asked for anything better, except maybe for a few more weeks of racing.”
Mike Stidham and Jamie Ness shared the training title with 10 wins apiece, with Ness finishing on top in purse money won with $293,040. Trevor McCarthy was the meet’s leading rider with 15 victories, while David A. Ross’s DARRS, Inc. was the leading owner with five wins.