Colonial Downs

Colonial Downs

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2014 Virginia Racing Dates Still Unresolved

Dispute between Colonial Downs and horsemen centers around length of meet.

The 2014 racing schedule for Colonial Downs remains in limbo due to a contract stalemate over dates between track management and the Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.

The Virginia Racing Commission last fall ordered the New Kent track to conduct the same 25 days of racing over a five-week period that were raced in 2013. The Virginia HBPA, however, is seeking a longer meet and said it believed there would be enough money for an eight-week meet with average daily purses of $200,000.

In addition to holding up approval of dates, the dispute has resulted in the closure of four satellite wagering facilities that conduct Thoroughbred simulcasting. Though those four facilities were closed because they could not accept Thoroughbred wagers when the contract between Colonial and horsemen expired Jan. 31, four other satellite sites remain open for Standardbred simulcasts.

Wagers on Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds are still allowed through advance deposit wagering providers.

Earlier the week of Feb. 23, the two sides met with Virginia Secretary of Commerce Maurice Jones, whose cabinet oversees the racing commission, in an effort to reach a compromise.

Frank Petramalo Jr. said the discussions with Jones centered on whether both sides could agree on a 28-day meet over seven weeks. The Virginia HBPA's executive committee met Feb. 25 but did not take any action on a proposed schedule for 2014.

"Things are pretty much in a stalemate," Colonial Downs president Ian Stewart said Feb. 26. " I haven't heard anything new."

Last year's Colonial Downs meet began June 8.

Though Colonial was willing to race the same number of days this year as last, Stewart said that as the contract dispute has dragged on, the situation changed.

"Obviously, at the time the racing commission awarded 25 days, we said we would do that, but a lot of time has passed and the situation is almost back to square one," Stewart said.

Stewart said the lack of satellite wagering on Thoroughbred simulcasts in the state is costing the track and horsemen money, but he declined to say how much.