Colonial Downs: On-Track Down, Off-Track Up

Though on-track numbers were down at Colonial Downs, the Virginia racetrack reported gains in off-track business for its 41-day meet that ended Aug. 12.

Extreme heat forced the cancellation of racing Aug. 1, which shortened the originally scheduled 42-day meet by one day.

On-track attendance, which had been drifting downward, fell 11.1%, the largest drop since 2001. Colonial Downs averaged 1,804 patrons a day, down from 2,028 in 2005.

If not for a popular 10-cent day commemorating Colonial's 10th anniversary, on-track attendance would have been lower. It was the second most popular day of the meet behind the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) program.

On-track handle fell 8.4% to an average of $113,438. However, total wagering on live racing was $50,065,568, an average of $1,221,111, up 14.2% from 1,069,131.

Field size averaged more than 8.4 starters per race.

The meet featured the debut of Colonial's twin $1-million 3-year old turf races--the Colonial Turf Cup, won by Showing Up, and the Virginia Derby, won by Go Between. The two winners met in Arlington Park's $400,000 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) Aug. 12; Showing Up won the race.