The Virginia Racing Commission met last week to discuss a number of items that have an impact on future of Virginia racing. Here’s what you need to know:
1. The VHBPA has been approved as the majority horsemen’s representative and the Virginia Equine Alliance has been designated as the industry stakeholder organization.
These were designations provided for under the recent legislative amendments and the Commission approved the groups’ requests yesterday. Both groups have been formally recognized for the next three years—meaning that the Alliance will not have to reapply for recognition until July 1, 2018.
In practical terms, this means that the VHBPA will continue to receive its 5 percent share of Virginia online wagering through TVG, XpressBet and Twin Spires and that the Alliance will begin to receive a 4 percent share of that wagering, which used to go to Colonial Downs.
2. The Commission approved five Virginia-bred stakes and four open graded stakes to be run at Laurel Park in 2015.
The major stakes races formerly held at Colonial Downs will likely move to Laurel Park during its fall meet, thanks to Commission approval. Following discussions with the Maryland Jockey Club’s Tim Ritvo, Sal Sinatra and Georganne Hale, the $60,000 Virginia-bred stakes will run Saturday, September 26th. The $250,000 Grade II Colonial Turf Cup and the $100,000 Grade III All Along will run on September 12th. The $400,000 Grade II Virginia Derby and the $150,000 Grade III Virginia Oaks will run on October 3rd.
The open graded will run under different names this year for copyright reasons—the Virginia Derby will become the Old Dominion Derby and the Virginia Oaks will become the Old Dominion Oaks—and will be presented by and branded through the Virginia Equine Alliance. Because of the configuration of the Maryland oval, there will also be some distance changes: The Old Dominion Derby—usually 1 1/4 miles—will be run at 1 ⅛ miles. The Colonial Turf Cup will be shortened from 1 3/16 miles to 1 ⅛ miles.
The proposal calls for the Maryland Horsemen to put up half of the total $900,000 graded stakes purse money and share wagering revenue generated by those races with the VHBPA. Next year, the races will return to Virginia—hopefully to be run at Morven Park.
There are some regulatory hurdles still to clear: The Maryland Jockey Club, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and the Maryland Racing Commission all must sign off.