Colonial Downs: More Summer Racing Planned for 2002

Fresh off a successful 2001 summer meet at Colonial Downs, members of the Virginia Racing Task Force are looking forward to the 2002 Thoroughbred meet. They told the Virginia Racing Commission Wednesday they hope to race again in the summer.

Lane Kneedler, counsel for the Maryland Jockey Club on Virginia-related issues, read a letter on behalf of the task from Anne Paulson, its chairman. In her letter Paulson, said the task force will "focus on race dates in the summer again, and make those dates certain as quickly as possible in order to sufficiently promote the 2002 race meet."

The switch to summer racing from fall racing generated some controversy in Maryland, which was dark during the Colonial Downs meet. The Maryland Racing Commission earlier this year said it didn't want Virginia dictating the racing schedule in Maryland. The MJC operates the race meets at the Virginia track.

Said Kneedler: "We do not want to be perceived as or in fact imposing dates on Maryland."

The statutory deadline to submit requests for the 2002 race meet is Sept. 1. Colonial Downs may amend the dates based on recommendations of the task force. As part of a tentative task force three-year plan, Colonial Downs will apply for 26 days of racing in 2002, and 32 days in 2003. The meet in 2003 could be split between the summer and fall.

The commission met at the Oak Ridge Plantation in Lovingston, Va., to review site work on at the state's new racetrack. Oak Ridge is being restored by its owner, John Holland.

Oak Ridge will open for pari-mutuel harness racing Sept. 21, and plans to hold Thoroughbred racing and steeplechase racing in the future. The Oak Ridge racing facility includes a turf course and steeplechase course.

The restored racetrack is located on a 4,900-acre estate once owned by Thomas Fortune Ryan. Racing at Oak Ridge will have a fair atmosphere, with tailgating as well as portable tote board and mutuel windows. United Tote has been selected to handle the mutuels, while Teleview will provide the video and timing services.