The $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIT) at Colonial Downs June 18 is now open to older turf horses—one of several changes for the 2011 summer meet at Colonial Downs.
In an environment friendly to experimentation to attract more interest, racing officials are open to changing previous meet conditions, including the track’s calendar and post times.
The Virginia Racing Commission March 22 “re-awarded” race days to Colonial Downs. Opening day for the 33-day meet is set for June 8, with four days of racing a week on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Post time will move to 5 p.m. EDT except for Sundays, when the first race is slated for 12:55 p.m.
The added day to the eight-week schedule is Monday, July 4, when post time will be 12:55 p.m.
The VRC reversed a decision made in February when it awarded 40 days of racing subject to an “impact review” on the number of days and overnights-to-stakes ratio. The reversal is consistent with the original request submitted to the commission jointly by Colonial Downs and horsemen.
Colonial Downs held a 40 days of racing in 2009 and 2010.
The condition change for the Colonial Turf Cup is an “experimental” initiative led by Virginia horsemen to create an opportunity for past Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) winners to return to Colonial Downs. Racing Secretary Tyler Picklesimer will likely waive starter fees for past Colonial Turf Cup and Virginia Derby participants that raced at the track as 3-year olds.
Another discussion item during the March 22 meeting was whether purse money should be redistributed from a 70/30 split to an 80/20 split, overnights to stakes. Such a split would divert about $700,000 from the stakes program to overnight purses. Officials said $6.4 million-$6.8 million may be available for purses in 2011.
The VRC also approved a limited license to conduct wagering for the Strawberry Hill Races to the State Fair Service Corp. that operates the Virginia State Fair. The Strawberry Hill Races currently held at Colonial Downs the third Saturday in May could move in future years to The Meadow, the birthplace of Secretariat now owned by State Fair Service Corp.
The meeting was the first one chaired by Clint Miller after Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell appointed J. Sargeant Reynolds Jr. to the seat of previous chair Peter Burnett.