Colonial Downs

Colonial Downs

Coady Photography

Virginia Horsemen and Track Move Bit Closer

State racing commission has proposed 25-day meet at Colonial Downs over five weeks.

While no agreement is in place and the two sides still disagree on some important details, Colonial Downs and the Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association have moved closer to an agreement to conduct this year's race meet.

With the track and horsemen remaining at odds on the 2014 live racing schedule, the Virginia Racing Commission offered a compromise May 7 that would see 25 race dates over five weeks at the New Kent, Va. track. The VRC compromise mirrors last year's number of racing dates.

On May 8, Virginia HBPA executive director Frank Petramalo Jr. said his group agrees with the compromise and forwarded initial paperwork acknowledging that agreement to Colonial Downs and the VRC. 

"I told the commission to execute the same contract that we had last year," Petramalo said on May 8. "In fact, this morning I sent off a draft of that to Colonial Downs and I'm waiting to hear back from them."

VRC executive secretary Bernie Hettel said May 8 that the commission had received the horsemen's paperwork.

Colonial Downs president Ian Stewart said the track is not opposed to the 25-day meeting this year but wants horsemen to help resolve a $1.5-million hit the track says it suffered when, without an agreement with horsemen, it closed several off-track betting outlets. Without an agreement, horsemen said the sites could not legally accept wagers on Thoroughbred races.

"We're prepared to run the 25 days but we need to be reimbursed for the money we lost over the last three months with our OTBs being closed to Thoroughbred racing," Stewart said. 

Petramalo said he thought the track's estimate on the OTB losses was too high.

The commission told the two sides to have an agreement in place by the next scheduled VRC meeting May 17.

The Virginia HBPA had been pursuing a longer stand of eight weeks while the track had proposed meets as short as six days at one point.