Before any action is taken on a Virginia Racing Commission plan that could have paved the way for racing at Colonial Downs in 2015, it will be challenged in court by the New Kent, Va., track.
Colonial Downs has informed the VRC it will appeal a June 23 decision that called for the track to agree to a 24-date racing season in 2015. The VRC requested the track reach an agreement with the Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association by July 1 on a new season conducted over eight weeks in 2015 or face the prospect of being required to run the 25 dates that had been approved for Colonial for 2014.
The VRC granted the track a stay from its July 1 deadline to allow judicial review. The track will file its appeal in the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond. The court process is expected to take at least a month.
In its appeal, the track said the VRC overstepped its statutory authority with the June 23 order.
"They ordered us to sign a contract with specific terms regarding racing and number of race days," Colonial president Ian Stewart said. "While the commission can require the existence of a contract, and can approve its terms, we have the opportunity to negotiate and write the contract then submit it for approval.
"The commission can't write the contract."
One part of the Virginia code the court will have to examine are rules defining the VRC's powers.
"Horse racing with pari-mutuel wagering as licensed herein shall be permitted in the Commonwealth for the promotion, sustenance, and growth of a native industry, in a manner consistent with the health, safety, and welfare of the people," the code reads. "The Virginia Racing Commission is vested with control of all horse racing with pari-mutuel wagering in the Commonwealth, with plenary power to prescribe regulations and conditions under which such racing and wagering shall be conducted, so as to maintain horse racing in the Commonwealth of the highest quality and free of any corrupt, incompetent, dishonest, or unprincipled practices and to maintain in such racing complete honesty and integrity. The Virginia Racing Commission shall encourage participation by local individuals and businesses in those activities associated with horse racing."