Task Force Proposes Summer Meet For Colonial Downs

A task force made up of a number of horse organizations is likely to propose moving Colonial Downs' fall meet to June and July of 2001.

The task force includes representatives of Colonial Downs, the Maryland Jockey Club, the Virginia Thoroughbred Association, the Virginia Horseman's Association, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horseman's Association, and the Maryland Horse Breeder's Association. The task force proposal will be presented Monday to its member groups.
The new dates would offer the earliest start for live racing at the New Kent, Va., racetrack since its opening in 1997.

"I think potentially it could be approved," said Althea (Robin) Richards, a member of the task force.

The proposed dates are June 9-July 14. The Virginia Derby, the track's marquee event, would be held closing day. With 25 days of racing, purses would average about $200,000 per program. There could more of an emphasis on the dirt racing.

"We have had as many turf races as people have wanted (in previous years)," Richards said. "(The proposed) dates will provide more exposure to the dirt track at Colonial Downs. It will also broaden the spectrum of races for high and low purses. Every indication is that the turf course at Pimlico will be ready for a break when Colonial would open."

The new dates, if proposed and then approved by the Virginia Racing Commission Dec. 20, would offer Colonial Downs more marketing opportunities. Marketing efforts would capitalize on the tourist season of Colonial Williamsburg and not conflict with other events that occur in Virginia in the fall, such as the Virginia State Fair and the NASCAR race at Richmond International Raceway. By Nick Hahn