Handle Up Across the Board at Colonial

Colonial Downs near New Kent, Va., ended its seventh Thoroughbred meet with records in total handle, on-track handle, and daily average total handle. This spring's 30-day meet was four days longer than the live racing offered last year.

The track recorded a total handle of $36,090,262 for the 2003 meet. The previous record high, set in 2002, was $31,035,401. The 2003 figure was also well ahead of the previous 30-day meet totals; $28,182,006 in 1998 and 2000's $25,406,748. Daily average total handle was also a new record at $1,203,009. The previous best was 2002's $1,193,669.

The total on-track handle of $5,677,943 was the best in track history, topping the $5,507,832 wagered in 1997 at Colonial Downs. Average on-track handle of $189,265 was down a tick from the 2002 high water mark of $191,212.

Total attendance for the meet was 65,796, up nearly 15% from the 57,293 people who saw live racing in 2002. Average attendance of 2,193 was essentially flat, down 0.5%, compared to last year's average of 2,204.

Virginia Derby Day set new wagering marks for single day total handle and on-track handle. The total handle of $2,473,385 for the July 12 card easily eclipsed the previous high of $2,105,650 set on October 3, 1998, the inaugural Virginia Derby. The on-track handle $569,355 bettered the $555,688 wagered on the 2002 Virginia Derby card.

Two records were set on the track as well. Bid Wild set the track record for 5 1/2 furlongs on the main track with a 1:02.68 clocking on July 1st. Ameri Prospect set the previous record of 1:02.94 in 1997. Also on July 1, Timothy Mac sped five furlongs in 55.74 to set an another record on the dirt. The previous record was 56.66, set by Band Performance in 2000.

The 9-year-old mare All That Glitters was the horse of the meet with three wins from three starts. The only horse to win three races at the meet, All That Glitters captured two stakes: the $50,000 Somethingroyal and the $50,000 Buckland Stakes. Michael Trombetta trains the mare for Judith Digon. Colonial's all-time leading jockey Mario Pino was aboard for all three wins.

Pino finished second in the jockey standings to 2002 Eclipse Award winner Ryan Fogelsonger, who won 42 races. The Colonial meet was the first full meet as a journeyman for Fogelsonger. Pino finished second with 38 wins, pushing his career total to 257 at the New Kent oval. Pino was also the leading rider by purses with $734,238. Defending champion Horacio Karamanos was third with 31 wins. Jozbin Santana rode 25 winners and Enrique Jurado booted home 15 winners to round out the top five.

Hamilton Smith won his second straight training title with 17 winners. Smith sent out the most horses, 92, of all trainers. All time leading trainer Ferris Allen finished second with 11 winners. Allen became the first trainer with 100 wins at Colonial when his Fifty East scored on Sunday July 20th. Two-time Virginia Derby winning trainer Jonathan Sheppard and perennial Colonial force Robert Bailes tied for third with nine wins.

The Secretariat Turf Course was again used extensively, but rainy weather and late weekday post times cut the usage down to 74% of the races in 2003. In 2002, 91% of Colonial's races were on the turf.

Field size was extremely strong once again with an average of 9.81 starters per race. The 2002 meet featured 9.26 starters per race.

Next up for Colonial Downs is a seven-week harness meet beginning October 3.