Magna Entertainment has plans to transform Maryland's premier Thoroughbred racetracks into "destination entertainment centers," and apparently expand off-track wagering in the state. At this time, though, officials are reluctant to discuss details.
It's nothing new: put up the money and they will show up to run. Colonial Downs has done that, raising the purse for Saturday's Virginia Derby to $500,000, which attracted the attention of such trainers as Bill Mott and Neil Drysdale.
In what clearly has become one of most interesting race meets in North America, Colonial Downs will kick off its 2002 season the weekend of June 21-23 with 30 races, all of them scheduled for the turf.
With a little more than a week remaining until the start of the 2002 Thoroughbred meet, and stall assignments nearly completed, the Colonial Downs racing office is expecting more than 90 trainers to stable horses at the New Kent County, Va., racetrack.
The Virginia Racing Commission has approved a request that would allow Colonial Downs to become a guarantor of the debt of its parent company, Gameco. The proposal is part of a long-range plan that increases the purse of the Virginia Derby to $500,000 for at least three years.
Broad-based legislation on racing issues passed the House of Delegates General Laws Committee Feb. 28 after two sets of amendments were discussed. The bill patroned by Sen. Kenneth Stolle passed with a 16-3 vote late in the afternoon.
The Virginia Racing Commission on Feb. 20 approved a contract between Colonial Downs and the Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, and also discussed a decline in handle at off-track wagering facilities in the state.
Legislation that would remove impediments to horse racing in Virginia passed the state Senate Jan. 29. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Kenneth Stolle, was approved by a 27-12 vote. It now goes to General Laws Subcommittee in the House of Delegates.
Broad legislation that removes impediments to the pari-mutuel industry cleared a Senate committee by a 7-1 vote Jan. 23. Introduced by Sen. Kenneth Stolle, the bill delegates regulatory control of racing dates, provisional licensing, and account wagering to the Virginia Racing Commission.
Colonial Downs reported to the Virginia Racing Commission on Wednesday that the plan to privatize Colonial Downs was approved Jan. 10 by shareholders of the company that owns the Virginia track and its off-track betting facilities.
The Virginia Racing Commission may take a more active role in regulating horse racing if the recommendations of a blue-ribbon committee are implemented. The panel suggests a need for more off-track wagering facilities, elimination of a law that mandates 150 live racing dates by 2006, and addition of account wagering.
As soon as Housebuster crossed the state line, he became the leading sire in Virginia and, according to Robert Levy, perhaps the leading sire in the mid-Atlantic. For many who attended the open house at Blue Ridge Farm on Sunday, it was the first time for them to see and welcome Housebuster back to America from Japan.
At the Aug. 30 Maryland Racing Commission meeting at Ocean Downs, commissioner Terry Saxon erupted in anger over a letter from Colonial Downs president Ian Stewart in regard to the Virginia track's plan to apply for another summer meet next year.
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.
The plan to privatize Colonial Downs moved a step closer to fruition Tuesday when the Virginia Racing Commission, after a public hearing and about an hour of deliberation, voted 3-2 to allow the acquisition of Colonial Holdings Inc. by Gameco Inc.
Only weeks before the scheduled opening of its Thoroughbred meet, Colonial Downs still hasn't secured a loan to fund purses for its summer meet. It appears, though, that track owner Jeffrey Jacobs and some horsemen are prepared to provide the funds in the interim.
The Virginia Racing Commission on Monday approved a revised live racing schedule for Colonial Downs that dovetails with dates in neighboring Maryland. For next year, one racing official has floated a plan to create a three-state circuit -- Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware -- designed to capitalize on each state's assets.
Under the plan approved Wednesday by the Maryland Racing Commission, Thoroughbreds will cease racing in the state from July 8 to Aug. 7. During that period, Colonial Downs, the track in Virginia managed by the Maryland Jockey Club, will run its 25-day meet.
There was little discussion by the Virginia Racing Commission Wednesday about the planned June-July meet at Colonial Downs even though it remains possible there could be racing in Maryland as usual during that period. Colonial Downs gets about 75% of its horses from neighboring Maryland.
In a tense meeting that exposed deep divisions within Maryland's racing community, the state racing commission on Wednesday rejected a plan for ceasing Thoroughbred racing for five weeks this summer so that horses can compete in Virginia. The commission voted 6-2 against the proposal advanced by the Maryland Jockey Club and a task force representing segments of the racing industry in Maryland and Virginia. The plan called for Pimlico and Laurel Park to close for racing from June 10 to July 14 while Colonial Downs, the struggling track near Richmond, conducted a 25-day summer Thoroughbred meet.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has banned horses from entering the state if they come directly or indirectly from countries where outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease have occurred.
With the first case of foot-and-mouth disease confirmed in Ireland, and the British government now saying the situation will last for months, the scope of the highly contagious disease continues to widen.
Virginia horsemen have two weeks to secure a loan that will allow Colonial Downs to pay an average of $200,000 in purses daily during a summer meet. The two-week deadline also applies to resolving a racing dates conflict between Virginia and Maryland.
The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association has reiterated its position that live racing shouldn't be suspended in the state in June and July, and that Colonial Downs in Virginia should continue to offer Thoroughbred racing in September and early October.
With Colonial Downs in Virginia planning to hold its Thoroughbred meet from June 10-July 14, the Maryland Racing Commission hasn't yet awarded the customary summer dates to Laurel Park. Commission officials said the issue will be resolved at a March meeting after track officials and horsemen agree on a schedule.
The Virginia Racing Task Force believes it will obtain a loan to fund purses for the proposed spring-summer meet at Colonial Downs this year, but regulators are concerned there won't be enough money or horses to support the plan.
The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association has recommended that Maryland's racetracks maintain a schedule whereby there is a shutdown in September. That throws the decision on Colonial Downs dates back to the Virginia Racing Commisssion.