Monthly Archives: December 2018

Return of Vinton off-track betting in the Homestretch

  • The odds are in Vinton’s favor for an economic boost fueled by the return of a horse betting parlor, according to the new owners of Colonial Downs racetrack.

    Rosie’s Gaming Emporium will have about 125 employees with an average income of $40,000, plus benefits, Mike Donovan, the chief marketing officer for Colonial Downs Group said Monday at a groundbreaking event. The parlor is a resurrection of an off-track betting site that closed four years ago on Vinyard Road.

Lilly, a retired racehorse from WTR Stables in Roanoke, and trainer Stacey Fitzgerald appeared Monday
during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Colonial Downs off-track betting facility and restaurant in Vinton.


The project is expected to generate $1.5 million in taxes annually, with one-third going to Vinton, Donovan said. The company expects customers to travel from surrounding counties, providing more money to the town.

The ceremony drew about 30 people to the parking lot of the 15,200-square-foot building. They huddled beneath a canopy to learn more about the new betting site on a chilly morning.

Rosie’s in Vinton is part of a network of parlors set to reopen across the state. The Colonial Downs Group is reviving the parlors with the new Rosie’s moniker, along with the racetrack in New Kent County, located just east of Richmond off Interstate 64.

The track and parlors closed in 2014 following contract disputes between previous owner Jacobs Entertainment and the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

This spring, Chicago-based Revolutionary Racing bought Colonial Downs for more than $20 million. Revolutionary Racing was then absorbed into Colonial Downs Group for branding purposes, said spokesman Mark Hubbard.

The company said it plans to revive thoroughbred racing in Virginia through a $300 million enterprise funded largely by historical horse racing machines.

Historical horse racing is a new type of wagering system legalized by the Virginia General Assembly prior to the track’s sale. Users place bets on an archive of prerecorded races. The terminals look similar to slot machines but operate under the same pari-mutuel wagering system as live horse racing.

The Virginia Racing Commission officially approved a new license for Colonial Downs last week, including 15 thoroughbred racing days for 2019, and 30 race days in 2020.

The Vinton parlor, open every day of the week, will include a restaurant, bar and gift shop, and is projected to open in April, the company said. It will offer 150 historical horse racing games, and live streaming of thoroughbred horse races across North America.

Colonial Downs Group is clearing the decks inside the facility as part of the renovation.

Vinton Mayor Brad Grose said the project is “another great example of what’s going on” in the town as a result of hard work and community partnerships.

“I think it’s going to be great for Vinton, and for a good part of the state,” Grose said.

The previous facility operated for 10 years after local voters approved off-track betting at the parlor through a ballot referendum.

Debbie Easter, the president of the Virginia Equine Alliance, said the trainers, racers and owners she represents “couldn’t be more happy” with the resurgence of the track and connected parlors, and its economic impact on the state.

Colonial Downs Group bought the Vinton property for $2.5 million last month. It was previously owned and leased by the Brabham family.

The first race day at Colonial Downs is set for Aug. 8, with the Virginia Derby scheduled for Aug. 31.

Virginia Racing Commission Lowers Horsemen Licensing Fees Beginning In 2019

At its December monthly meeting, the Virginia Racing Commission approved a lower licensing rate structure for horsemen, employees and vendors across the board beginning in 2019! More details are available at Here are the new rates:


•Owner $25

•Trainer $25

•Assistant Trainer $25

•Authorized Agent $25

•Jockey $25

•Jockey Agent $25

•Blacksmith $25

•Veterinarian $25

•Groom $10

•Pony Rider $25

•Exercise Rider $25

•Stables/LLC $25

•All others $25

Fingerprint Processing Fee

$25 Fingerprints are required for new applicants between 18 and 69 years of age and every five years thereafter.



•Owner $25

•Trainer $25

•Driver $25

•Trainer/Driver $25

•Owner/Trainer/Driver $50


Licensee Employees

•Seasonal Employees $25

•Full Time Employees $25

•Mutuel Teller $25

•Backside Employee $25



•Vendor $25

•Vendor Employee $25

Photo Gallery: Colonial Downs Construction Continues At The New Kent Track

With thoroughbred racing returning to Colonial Downs in 2019, here are scenes from in-progress construction goings on at the New Kent track. Here are some shots from December 13th.

The entrance area leading up to the Colonial Downs front pillars will look quite different when it reopens in 2019. A circular road will allow vehicles close access to the doors.

Here’s a shot looking out over what used to be the main walkway leading to the front entrance.

Looking out from the top tier of the third floor Jockey Club. The former lounge will be a simulcast area where horseplayers can bet live races from tracks around the country.

The first floor will house over 500 historical horse racing terminals.

Work on an enhanced paddock is already underway.

First floor construction is in high gear with an anticpated opening date of April 15th.

A former outside bar/concession area heading toward the Green is being enclosed.

First floor preparations continue. The 2019 season will feature 15 race days. The Virginia Derby is August 31st.

The Green side of the third floor Jockey Club is being renovated to a higher level Historical Horse Racing area that will feature 92 terminals.


Live Racing To Return At Virginia’s Colonial Downs Next Summer

The following appeared in The Paulick Report and is a press release from Colonial Downs 

Colonial Downs Group is pleased to announce licensing today by the Virginia Racing Commission to return live racing to the Commonwealth along with approval to open a 600-unit historic horse racing (HHR) operation in New Kent County. “Rosie’s” at Colonial Downs anticipates opening in mid-April, while Colonial Downs in conjunction with the Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) plans to operate 15 thoroughbred racing dates in 2019. Live racing begins August 8 through September 7, with the stable area consisting of 1000 stalls, to open July 25. Further updates on “Rosie’s”, race conditions and purse levels for Colonial Downs will soon follow.

“This is an exciting step for everyone impassioned by the rebirth of live racing in Virginia and for our team delivering on our promise to revitalize horse racing in the Commonwealth,” said Colonial Downs Group senior vice-president and general manager John Marshall. “We are already making significant progress preparing Colonial Downs to evolve into one of the country’s premier race meets.”

“It has been a long four years waiting for this day,” added VEA president Debbie Easter. “Our owners, breeders, trainers, veterinarians and everyone else associated with horse racing in Virginia have much anticipated the return of live racing at Colonial Downs and the resurgence in our industry that we know will come with it.”

Colonial Downs stopped operating under previous ownership in 2014. The new Colonial Downs Group will re-introduce the facility in New Kent County in April 2019 offering the newly approved historical horse racing machines as well as satellite wagering on live horse racing across North America. A variety of dining services will also be available. Eventually, Colonial Downs Group plans several special events at the venue, but the return of live thoroughbred horse racing in August is the priority for 2019 with plans under way for an exciting opening day including the return of the Virginia Derby on August 31. The rebirth of racing at Colonial Downs powered by innovative technology at “Rosie’s” positions the Commonwealth of Virginia, home of the famed Triple Crown Champion Secretariat, to re-emerge to relevance within the racing industry.

Colonial Downs Group is making a $300 million investment in the Commonwealth of Virginia creating 800 new jobs by the end of 2019. This effort will generate $25 million annually in state tax revenues, $17 million annually in local tax revenues and $25 million annually to Virginia’s horse industry. The project is not receiving any tax credits or government incentives.

Virginia 2018 Handle On Horse Racing Is Up Over 4% Through November

With one month to go in calendar year 2019, all source wagering handle from pari-mutuel activity in Virginia continues to trend ahead of last year. Through November, a total of $108,878,114 has been bet on horse racing on track, at the four in-state Off Track Betting (OTB) Centers and via four partner on line betting companies that operate in the Commonwealth. The eleven month handle figure in 2017 was $93,980,969.

2018 handle at the Breakers Sports Grille OTB in Henrico is almost $9 million thru November.

Combined OTB handle from the four in-state sites in Henrico (Breakers Sports Grille), Richmond (Ponies & Pints), Chesapeake (Buckets Bar & Grill) and Collinsville (The Windmill OTB Sports Grill) is $30,121,428. OTB handle at the same point a year ago was $18,444,183. Buckets opened in mid-November last year and The Windmill opened this past March.

Harness racing fans in Woodstock bet $120,000 on the Shenandoah Downs races this fall.

Even with more OTBs open in 2018, on line wagering has still risen an impressive 4.26%. Twin Spires handle of $29,593,607 is nearly 10% above its 2017 figure. TVG, top Virginia performer of the four, has handled $35,610,954, up 2.21%. NYRA Bets, the newest partner company, is up 15% this year with a handle of $1,892,933. XpressBet is off nearly 4% but has still handled $11,659,191. Total combined on line wagering for the year so far is $78,756,685, up over $3 million from 2017’s $75,536,785 figure.

Million Dollar-Plus Earning Virginia-Bred Long On Value Is Retired

The following appeared in Thoroughbred Daily News December 7th.

Grade I-winning millionaire Long On Value (Value Plus–Long Message, by Orientate) will stand in Florida at Pleasant Acres Stallions for $2,500 for the 2019 breeding season.

Long On Value won the Jamestown Stakes at Colonial Downs in 2013. Courtesy of Coady Photography.

“Helen and I are excited to have the millionaire, Long On Value, join our roster here at Pleasant Acres Stallions, said Pleasant Acres’ owner Joe Barbazon. “He brings stamina and resilience on dirt or turf–going short or long. Breeders should find a lot to like about Long on Value.”

Long On Value is shown winning the Grade II Twilight Derby at the 2014 Breeders’ Cup. Photo Courtesy Benoit Photo.

Winner of the 2014 GII Twilight Derby and 2015 GIII Canadian Turf S. during his tenure for Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Long On Value finished second in the 2017 G1 Al Quoz Sprint and third in that year’s GI Ricoh Woodbine Mile. Purchased by trainer Brad Cox for $100,000 at that term’s Keeneland November Sale, the 7-year-old made just two starts for his new conditioner, winning the Might Beau Overnight S. at Churchill June 2 and closing out his career on a high note in the GI Highlander S. at Woodbine June 30. The bay retires with a record or 32-9-5-5 and earnings of $1,136,253.

Celebrate First Anniversary Of Buckets OTB In Chesapeake December 7, 8

Racing fans are invited to celebrate the first anniversary of the Virginia Bets Off Track Betting Center at Buckets Bar & Grill on Friday December 7th and Saturday December 8th. The event will feature $500 in prize drawings, free programs, a free buffet and a free handicapping contest with $1,000 in cash prizes up for grabs.

On Friday, enjoy a free appetizer buffet from 4-7 PM as a thank you to both racing fans and restaurant/bar patrons for making Buckets a great success. There will be hourly prize drawings for $50 betting vouchers from 1-10 PM and past performance programs will be available for free all day and evening.

The OTB at Buckets is open seven days a week from 11 AM – 11 PM.

On Saturday, play a free “Pick The Horses” handicapping contest with $1,000 in cash prizes on the line. The five contestants that accumulate the highest mythical bankrolls will share the $1,000 ($500-$250-$125-$75-$50).

The contest will include races from Gulfstream’s Caribbean Classic program, a stakes filled card on what looks to be December’s biggest pre-Christmas racing event. Stop by Buckets between 11 AM and 2:30 PM to fill out a free contest entry. The first contest race begins shortly after 2:30 PM. Participants will be asked to select one horse in each of the contest races. They will receive a mythical $2 win/place bet on each selection and accumulate mythical bankrolls accordingly.

A free appetizer buffet wil be offered at Buckets on Friday December 7th.

Buckets is located in the Battlefield Shopping Center at 228 N. Battlefield Blvd. in the Great Bridge section of Chesapeake, just before the drawbridge

Colonial Downs Plans Rich 2019 Fall Meet To Kick Off Revival

The following appeared in The Daily Racing Form and wax written by Matt Hegarty.

In 2013, Colonial Downs, Virginia’s only Thoroughbred track, went out with a whimper.

In 2019, the track plans to come back with a bang.

Buoyed by new ownership and the prospect of tens of millions of dollars of annual revenue from an exclusive license to operate devices similar to slot machines in the state, the track is planning to hold 15 days of live racing next fall, with the potential to offer as much as $500,000 a day in purses. The next year, the track is planning a 30-day meet stretched over 10 weeks in the fall, with purses of $600,000 a day, which would place Colonial among the top tier of tracks in the U.S. by purse distribution.


“I think it’s fair to say that ownership has been very bullish about this project of revitalizing horseracing in Virginia,” said John Marshall, a veteran racing executive who has been installed as general manager of the track by the partnership that purchased Colonial earlier this year.

The plans for the track and its gambling parlors are a stark turnaround from six years ago, when the track’s previous owner, Jacobs Entertainment, surrendered its operating license after its deteriorating relationship with the state’s horsemen cost the track an agreement over live racing dates. Colonial Downs has not held a live race since then.

But earlier this year, the Virginia legislature passed a bill allowing the new owners to operate historical horseracing machines, devices similar to slot machines that use the results of previously run races to determine payouts to winners. Under rules approved by the racing commission, Colonial’s owners will be able to operate a maximum of 3,000 machines at Colonial and as many as 10 off-track betting facilities, a lucrative license for a state whose neighbors that have limited gambling options.

The first machines are expected to be operational in mid-April, when the track’s owners debut 600 of them at Colonial Downs, located in sparsely populated New Kent County. But three other gambling parlors are expected to open throughout the year, according to Marshall, in three of the state’s most populous areas: Richmond, Hampton, and Chesapeake, each with 700 machines.

“We’re optimistic – I hope not too optimistic – about historical horseracing,” said Frank Petramalo, the executive director of the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. “Those are big population centers, and we expect them to do very well.”

Up first is the partnership’s two license applications, one to operate the gambling devices and the other to operate the track and its OTBs. The Virginia Racing Commission is expected to take up both license applications at a meeting scheduled for Dec. 13, according to Dave Lermond, the executive director of the commission.

During Colonial’s dormancy, four off-track betting parlors continued to operate, owned by a consortium of horsemen’s groups that banded together under the name of the Virginia Equine Alliance. Those four locations are being surrendered to Colonial’s new owners next year, which is rebranding all of the off-site gambling parlors as Rosie’s, Marshall said.

Because of those off-track betting operations and revenue built up through account-wagering in the state over the past five years, horsemen have a rich pool of money to draw on for the track’s first meet, according to Petramalo. Virginia has one of the most generous laws on the books in regard to guaranteed revenue to horsemen from account-wagering, with all bets in the state requiring a 5 percent source-market fee. In 2018 alone, account-wagering revenues to horsemen are expected to total $3.5 million, Petramalo said.

“We have a good bit of flexibility for the first couple of meets,” Petramalo said.

The plans for 2019 would have Colonial race 15 dates over a stretch of five weeks from August to September, running on a Thursday-through-Saturday schedule. Both Marshall and Petramalo said that the track’s turf course, which received high grades throughout its history, would be the focus of the live racing cards. The track plans to run as many as 90 percent of the races on grass, a strategy that would seem to position the track well in an era when turf racing generates the biggest fields in U.S. racing.

The meet would be expanded in 2020 to 30 dates stretched over 10 weeks, but that’s when things may get a little tricky. Petramalo said the ideal dates for the meet would run from early September to late October, but officials also said that they need to reach out to their racing counterparts in Maryland to reach an agreement that avoids any toe-stepping.

“We’re going to have to come to some sort of arrangement in the Mid-Atlantic, to at the very least coordinate the types of races we are going to put on,” Petramalo said.