After running the longest Thoroughbred meet in its 12-year history at 45 days, officials with Colonial Downs Dec. 17 proposed a 25-day meet in 2009.
The proposal to the Virginia Racing Commission drew some rare public comment from horsemen who questioned national interest in a substantially shorter meet. After the meeting, officials from Colonial, the racing commission, and horsemen’s groups held a multi-issue work session that included the 2009 dates working toward a formal proposal for the commission to hear in January.
Under the initial proposal, Colonial officials emphasized their goals to maintain average daily purses and maintain the purses of the twin turf signature stakes—the $750,000 Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) and $600,000 Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIT)—as well as a lack of funding between the end of the meet that typically ends in August, and the end of the operating year for revenue-generating off-track betting outlets.
The Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, represented by Frank Petramalo Jr., responded by offering a “status quo” approach in maintaining a 45-day meet. The group provided a solution to “gap funding” within the Virginia HBPA, and offered other cost-saving measures such as not broadcasting the Virginia Derby on a national network. For the last two years the Virginia Derby has been broadcast on CBS-TV nationally.
Also at the Dec. 17 meeting, the racing commission approved the renewal of licenses for four advance deposit wagering companies: TVG, XpressBet.com, Youbet.com, and Colonial Downs/the Racing Channel, which is called EZ Horse Play.
TwinSpires.com was granted a revocable six-month temporary license approval. Should Colonial and TwinSpires.com not reach an agreement on fees by Jan. 1, the commission is expected to appoint a mediator to resolve matters by February.