Edited press release
Colonial Downs will host 17 stakes races, including a pair of grade II turf stakes, during the 2009 summer Thoroughbred meet which runs from June 5 – July 28. A total of $2.2 million will be doled out in stakes purses over the eight week, 40 day season.
Highlight of the meet again will be the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIT) on June 20 and the $750,000 Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) on July 18, which make up the first two legs of the $5 million-plus Jacobs Investments "Grand Slam of Grass Series." Both races are for 3-year-old turf horses at respective distances of 1 3/16ths and 1¼ miles.
The Grand Slam Series continues with the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington on Aug. 8 and the $3 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) on Nov. 7 at Santa Anita. Any horse that can sweep all four “Slam” legs will earn combined purse and bonus monies of over $5,000,000, making it the richest Grand Slam in sports.
The Colonial Turf was elevated to grade II status for the first time in 2009. The fourth running last June was captured by Sailor’s Cap in a downpour. The Virginia Derby, which has had eleven editions thus far, was won by Gio Ponti in 2008.
Both marquee races have a pair of stakes on their respective under cards. Turf Cup Day features the $150,000 All Along Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. III) and $50,000 Buckland Stakes, while Derby Day has the $150,000 Virginia Oaks (gr. III) and $50,000 Kitten’s Joy Stakes as part of the lineup.
“In order to keep the overnight purse level in line with past years, we had to cut some of the stakes purses marginally,” said Colonial’s director of racing Tyler Picklesimer. “The local weekend stakes will go for $50,000, down $10,000 from last summer. The Turf Cup purse dropped to $500,000 (from $600,000 in ‘08) while the All Along and Virginia Oaks purses will be $150,000 (compared to $200,000 in ’08). The Virginia Derby’s $750,000 purse though will remain the same as it was last year,” added Picklesimer.
Colonial’s 13th annual thoroughbred season will be feature racing every Friday thru Tuesday. Post times will be 6 p.m. on Friday, 1 p.m. on weekend days, and 5 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday. The only exception will be on Saturday July 4, when an evening card will be held starting at 6 p.m..