New Kent, Virginia 23124
Colonial Downs is a racetrack for Thoroughbred flat racing and Standardbred harness racing located in New Kent, Virginia adjacent to Interstate 64, halfway between Richmond, Virginia and Williamsburg, Virginia.
History and Information
The track opened on September 1, 1997. More than 13,000 attended the track on opening day. The track used several unconventional construction and business approaches. They constructed one of the largest tracks in size in the country but built a relatively small clubhouse. They also built OTB's prior to the opening of the track. The track also struck a deal with Maryland to stop Maryland racing during Colonial Downs thoroughbred meet, although this later ended.
Until 2005, the track was managed by the Maryland Jockey Club under a complicated agreement with Virginia and Maryland regulators and the Maryland-Virginia Racing Circuit. The track has been fairly successful and has offered good summertime turf racing in the traditionally poor three-year-old turf division. Since 2005, the track has run two legs of the annual Jacobs Investments Grand Slam of Grass. This event consisted of the Colonial Turf Cup and the Virginia Derby from Colonial Downs, the Secretariat Stakes from Arlington Park and the Breeders' Cup Turf.
The track requested 25 thoroughbred dates in 2009, down from 45 in 2008. After negotiations with the track's horsemen and the Commonwealth of Virginia, the track will run 40 thoroughbred dates. The schedule originally ran from June 12 to August 4, 2009, but was later moved up one week. This allows the track to run live racing on Belmont Stakes day, June 6. The fall harness meet will run 36 dates. from September 8 through November 7. The harness meet is timed to end on Breeders' Cup weekend.
During the summer thoroughbred meet, the track runs three steeplechase races on Sunday afternoons. The track also hosts the Strawberry Hill Racs, a day of steeplechase racing, in April, as well as an additional card in September. All of these races are sanctioned by the National Steeplechase Association.
The track has a one and one-quarter mile dirt oval, a seven and one half furlong inner turf oval and a one and one-eighth mile outer turf oval.
Harness races start from a chute on the back stretch of the dirt oval.