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Colonial Downs Pursues Dates Through Court

Track would like to offer four race days in 2016.

Still interested in offering live racing on its terms of a shorter meet with larger purses, Colonial Downs will seek judgment from federal court.

On Nov. 13 Colonial Downs filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against the Virginia Racing Commission in federal court in Richmond, Va. The filing seeks clarity on what Colonial says are conflicting federal and state laws that have interfered with the VRC granting the track a limited license to conduct Thoroughbred racing..

Because of the failure to reach an agreement between track and the Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, which favors a longer meet with purses more spread out, Colonial has not conducted live racing since 2013. Last year Colonial Downs owner Jacobs Entertainment surrendered its "unlimited" racing license.

Colonial Downs' has requested a limited license to conduct live racing and simulcast operations at two off-track outlets in 2016. It would offer four live race dates in September. Its request is on the agenda for the Nov. 17 VRC meeting.

Jacobs Entertainment chief executive officer Jeff Jacobs said he's still committed to bringing quality racing to Colonial, which would like to move forward with the Old Dominion Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (ODTHA), an alternative horsemen's group to the Virginia HBPA, which the VRC recognizes as the representative group for horsemen in Virginia.

"We voluntarily turned in an unlimited license in 2014 when we were required to be all things to all people," Jacobs said in a Nov. 13 release. "We have not been able to focus on the high-end racing product that our fans demand. With a limited racing license, we are able to focus on high-end racing and move forward successfully. There is no legitimate reason for the Virginia Racing Commission to deny Colonial Downs the ability to contract with the ODTHA. We are confident the court will find in our favor, which will allow us to focus on nationally recognized high-caliber Thoroughbred racing in Virginia."