This Saturday, March 30th, the four Virginia Bets OTBs will offer simulcast wagering on a trio of powerhouse stakes races from Meydan Racecourse in Dubai. The OTB lineup that day already includes stakes filled cards at Gulfstream (Florida Derby Day) and Santa Anita (Beholder Stakes Day).
Off Track Betting Centers are located at Ponies & Pints (Richmond), Breakers Sports Grille (Henrico), Buckets Bar & Grill (Chesapeake) and The Windmill OTB Spprts Grill (Collinsville/Martinsville). A complete list with addresses and phone numbers is at virginiahorseracing.com.
Virginia residents can also wager the entire Dubai card at any of the four on line betting partner sites: TVG.com, XpressBet.com, TwinSpires.com and NYRABets.com.
The following appeared on richmond.com March 26th and was written by Graham Moomaw.
NEW KENT — Fur coats, piles of cash, convertibles, yachts and diamond rings spun across the gambling machine’s screen. But the horses were optional.
The first shipments of historical horse racing terminals were scheduled to be delivered Monday at Colonial Downs, about a month before the track’s new owners hope to open the doors of their revamped, casino-esque facility in New Kent County.
To mark the occasion, Colonial Downs representatives held a demonstration showing how the machines the General Assembly legalized last year will work. The historical horse racing machines — a major step toward casino-style gambling in Virginia — will provide a critical new revenue stream to support the reopening of Colonial Downs and Thoroughbred racing’s return to the track.
The plan was pitched as a way to revive horse racing, create hundreds of jobs and generate tax revenue for state and local governments. But the debate in the legislature focused largely on the return of horse racing, without delving deeply into the functionality of the gambling machines or their similarity to traditional slot machines.
According to an economic impact analysis circulated by Colonial Downs, the new iteration is projected to take in $203.7 million in revenue by 2022, with $161.9 million coming from historical horse racing.
The machines look and feel like traditional slot machines. But instead of using random numbers, they’re powered by an archive of horse races that have already been run, combining players’ money into pools under the same pari-mutuel wagering system used in live horse racing.
Monday’s game demo — just off a newly carpeted red floor lined with black bases awaiting the machines’ arrival — showed that players can pull up charts showing horse odds and jockey information and use it to carefully predict the horses’ finishing positions. Or they can just press a button over and over again and hope to get lucky.
“If you don’t understand horse racing or you don’t consider yourself a handicapper, just by hitting the spin button you can automatically pick the top three horses … without having to do any work at all,” said Aaron Gomes, chief operating officer of the Colonial Downs Group.
Though the new owners kept the Colonial Downs name, the gambling side of the company will be branded Rosie’s, both in New Kent and at a handful of off-track facilities opening around the state.
At the New Kent Rosie’s, the minimum bet per spin will be 20 cents, company representatives said, but a “high-limit” room will allow up to $15 per spin. Winners’ payouts will depend on the size of the pools, they said, and could range from $1,000 to six-figure jackpots.
Nate Mize, director of marketing for the Colonial Downs Group, said the machines will let players bet on three horse races within 20 seconds. The appeal of the machines, he said, is in their speed and efficiency.
The company acknowledged most historical horse racing players would use the automatic bet feature, while more experienced horse racing fans could bet on live races or simulcast races from other tracks.
The machine used for the demo featured a game-show theme called “What’s Behind That Door?,” one of about 50 game themes Colonial Downs plans to use. Other themes listed on the website of Exacta Systems, the manufacturer providing the machines to Colonial Downs, include fairies, pirates, monkeys, angels, ninjas, turtles, leprechauns and conquistadors. Still, the games are based on past horse races, even if the machine has an entirely different cartoon theme.
There will be 600 machines at the main Colonial Downs facility in New Kent and its associated Rosie’s gambling wing; 700 machines at a separate Rosie’s facility being built in South Richmond; and hundreds more at Rosie’s sites planned in Hampton, Chesapeake and the town of Vinton in Roanoke County. The Rosie’s in New Kent is expected to be open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
The Colonial Downs track had been shuttered since 2014 after its former owner surrendered its racing license amid a bitter financial dispute. A Chicago-based company bought the track last April, shortly after the Virginia General Assembly voted to allow historical horse racing machines in the state. That bill passed despite opposition from anti-gambling groups that said the facilities could encourage gambling addiction and drain money from working-class people.
The General Assembly’s apparent willingness to entertain casino-style gambling caused a rush of interest in the 2019 legislative session as multiple would-be casino operators and sports betting proponents tried to get lawmakers to go even further. Those bills did not pass, but were instead wrapped into a comprehensive gambling study scheduled to be completed this fall.
Live horse racing won’t return to Colonial Downs until August. But the gambling machines could be up and running in New Kent by mid- to late April. The Rosie’s in South Richmond is expected to open in June.
The company has erected five billboards in Virginia to advertise the new enterprise, including one off Interstate 64 heading west out of Richmond.
Gomes said he would not call the machines slot machines because the behind-the-scenes functionality isn’t the same. But to the player, he said, it might seem “no different.”
“It’s very similar if you don’t want to get into the horse racing details,” Gomes said.
The spring Point-to-Point season got under way March 16th at the Airlie Resort, which played host to the Warrenton Hunt Point-to-Point Races on a delightful spring afternoon.
Ten races were contested including a side saddle race and a Virginia-bred or sired flat event. It also marked the debut of the Virginia Equine Alliance’s “Point-to-Points Pay” starter reward bonus program.
Orchestra Leader, Storm Team and Special Skills jump successfully in the Open Hurdle race March 16th at the Warrenton Hunt. Photo by Douglas Lees.
Any horse that starts in a flat, hurdle or timber race which is owned by a Virginian or trained by a Virginian will receive $200 per start. It’s an effort to increase participation and build field size at these events.
The program appears to be off to a great start after the first weekend. A total of 30 awards totaling $6,000 were distributed to owners who had horses participating. Beverly Steinman collected six of them courtesy of her Doug Fout trained entrants. Kincross Farm bagged a trio of starter rewards and in all, 20 different owners were recipients.
5 horses compete in the Open Hurdle stretch run March 16th at the Warrenton Hunt. Photo by Douglas Lees.
“The VEA recognizes that the Point to Point circuits are a vital element of steeplechase racing and we want to do everything we can to promote and support the Point to Points in Virginia,” said VEA Executive Director Jeb Hannum. “They are an important first step for many horses and they give young riders an opportunity before going to the sanctioned meets.”
Rider Graham Watters guides winner Gold Braid in the March 16th Maiden Hurdle Race in Warrenton. Photo by Douglas Lees.
The new initiative will continue with the Piedmont Hounds Point-to-Point Races March 23rd in Upperville, and at every weekend event through April including the Orange County, Old Dominion Hounds, Loudon Hunt, Blue Ridge Hunt and Middleburg Hunt Point-to-Points.
Dapper Dan won the $2,000 Virginia-bred or sired flat race at the Airlie Resort March 16th. Photo by Douglas Lees.
Donna Rogers owned Dapper Dan captured the Warrenton Hunt’s $2,000 Virginia-bred or sired flat race on Saturday. The 7 year old Pleasantly Perfect gelding wired the field in a 1 1/8 miles test and crossed in 2:08 2/5 over a soft turf. The winner, who entered the race with over $95,000 in earnings. He is trained by Neil Morris and was bred by Mr. & Mrs. Bertram Firestone.
Gun Lobby and King of Hearts battle in the Side Saddle Chase Cup stretch March 16th. Photo by Douglas Lees.
The Side Saddle Chase Cup was won by Gun Lobby and rider Julie Nafe, who battled King of Hearts and rider Devon Zebrovious.
Photos are courtesy of Douglas Lees.
Secretariat Heritage Center Launched to Establish Secretariat’s Birthplace as National Tourism Destination
The Secretariat Heritage Center, a new 501c3 organization, has been formed to celebrate the legacy of Secretariat and Meadow Stable at The Meadow Event Park. The non-profit has plans to elevate the current Secretariat tour program and its existing historic assets to a national heritage tourism destination and educational center.
Secretariat, acclaimed as the greatest race horse in America’s history, was born at The Meadow in Caroline County on March 30, 1970. His Triple Crown victory in 1973 stands as one of the greatest moments in all of sports, and he remains the only Triple Crown winner since 1919 to break all three track records. Those records in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont are still unbroken today and his bloodlines continue to dominate Thoroughbred racing.
Initial plans for the Secretariat Heritage Center focus on restoring the original barns which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. Included are the yearling barns, with the farm manager’s office and tack room, the stallion barn, Secretariat’s foaling shed, training barn, and a horse cemetery. A Hoofprints of History Trail will link all the key points of interest on the property. A life-sized statue of Secretariat to stand at his birthplace, long desired by fans, is also in the works. The existing Meadow Hall Mansion, which houses galleries and exhibits of important Secretariat memorabilia, will be enhanced to serve as a museum and conference center. The mansion also will continue to serve as a wedding and meeting venue.
The vision for the Secretariat Heritage Center is to provide a top-level museum and visitor experience for fans and tourists from all over the country. Through tours of the historic barns, interactive exhibits, photos, videos, memorabilia, historic artifacts, racing trophies, special events and youth-focused activities, it will celebrate the story of the land, the family and the legend of Secretariat. The Center also seeks to showcase the theme of excellence as embodied by Secretariat and his team. Through partnerships, it will foster studies in leadership and excellence with a special focus on women in equestrian sports.
The Secretariat Heritage Center plans to conduct a national capital campaign, the Secretariat Heritage Center Promise Campaign of $2.5 million. The chair of this campaign is Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of Penny Chenery, Secretariat’s owner.
“Fans from all over the nation already flock to the Meadow. We are very excited to bring Secretariat’s and my mother’s inspiring stories to a wider audience,” Ms. Tweedy said.
The goal of this campaign is to start the barn restorations in 2020, the year of Secretariat’s 50th birthday, and to have everything in place for the 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown in 2023. For more information, see www.secretariatheritagecenter.org
In the meantime, fans from all over the country will be flocking to the annual Secretariat Birthday Celebration at The Meadow Event Park on March 30. For more information on that event, see www.meadoweventpark.com
The Meadow Event Park is owned by Virginia Farm Bureau and is home of the State Fair of Virginia.
Media contact: Leeanne Meadows Ladin, Secretariat tourism manager/historian at firstname.lastname@example.org, 804-363-1683.
The remodeled and reinvigorated Colonial Downs will open its 15-date meet on Thursday, Aug. 8, and will race on a three-day-a-week schedule through Saturday, Sept. 7. Racing will be on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays with the exception of Labor Day week, when the schedule will be Monday (Labor Day), Friday, and Saturday.
Steeplechase racing, a longtime Virginia tradition, will be a regular feature at Colonial Downs when the New Kent County track presents its inaugural meet under new ownership and management this summer, the National Steeplechase Association and Colonial Downs Group announced.
Initial plans call for two steeplechase traces every Saturday at Colonial Downs. Photo by Betsy Burke Parker.
Post time will be 5 p.m. each day with the exception of Labor Day on Sept. 2, which will have a 1 p.m. first post.
Steeplechase racing will be featured during each racing week. While subject to change, current plans call for two jump races each Saturday of the meet.
“The National Steeplechase Association Board of Directors and I are delighted to be a part of the inaugural meet of the new Colonial Downs,” said NSA President Guy J. Torsilieri. “We have a very large constituency in Virginia, and there’s great enthusiasm in the jump-racing community for returning to a tremendous facility.”
“Colonial Downs welcomes the return of steeplechase racing to the Secretariat Turf Course, a 1 1/8-mile circuit that is—at 180 feet—the widest in North America,” said Jill Byrne, Colonial’s vice president of racing operations. “Jump racing has such a deep history in Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region, so we are thrilled to host a time-honored tradition as racing returns to the Commonwealth.”
CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — 120 new jobs and millions in tax revenues for Chesapeake, those are the numbers expected for a new Rosie’s gaming establishment proposed in the city, one of several in the works to support the return of the Colonial Downs racetrack in New Kent County.
The site is located at Battlefield Blvd and I-64. It’s easy to get to and easy to leave.
The potential Chesapeake site follows a Hampton groundbreaking on February 11 for another of the handful of Rosie’s locations.
There is a Rosie’s in Vinton, Richmond, New Kent County, Hampton, and possibly one in Chesapeake if approved by the Chesapeake Board of Zoning Appeals on March 28.
Two Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums are expected to open in April — at the New Kent track and in Vinton.
The Rosie’s will have about 700 slot-like historic horse racing gambling machines, and there will be satellite horse race wagering and a bar and restaurant.
“It’s important because of the jobs it will bring, the tax revenue that it will bring to the city of Chesapeake as well as Virginia. This will also be a new entertainment opportunity for consumers in and around Chesapeake.”
The project will bring 120 new jobs to Chesapeake and the one in Hampton will bring about 120 new jobs to the Peninsula.
“It’s an entertainment center and there will be a combination of historical horse racing machines, which are the new entertainment games where you can place wagers, potentially win jackpots that is based on previously run horse races that play like a regular video machine,” Hubbard adds.
Hubbard says in order to reopen Colonial Downs, they need a revenue source. “Everyone in Virginia is excited about bringing thoroughbred racing back to the Commonwealth. Colonial Downs has been shuttered for last several years, we will be racing again in August.”
As for the Chesapeake site, “This location is very accessible. It is easy to get in and out. It will attract a lot of people, and will generate a lot of revenues, and we are very pleased to work with the City of Chesapeake and other stake holders in the community,” Hubbard says.
The location is also expected to bring in more than 2,500 customers a day.
After a one-week hiatus, Off to the Races on The Racing Biz Radio Network returned to the airwaves on Saturday, March 9th at 10:00 a.m.
The show featured newly minted Virginia Racing Commissioner Stephanie Nixon, a long time trainer at Colonial Downs, to discuss the most recent developments in the Commonwealth. Also participating in the program was Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of The Stronach Group, which owns the Maryland Jockey Club He discussed the future of Maryland racing and current updates at Santa Anita Racecourse. And of course, Derby Bill Watson and Nick Hahn were be on board to handicap the big Derby prep races scheduled that day as well.
Derby Bill Watson provides handicapping tips every Saturday on the “Off To The Races” radio show.
The program airs every Saturday at 10:00 a.m. for one hour over terrestrial radio on the ESPN Richmond family of stations, including 950 AM and the FM stations 99.5 and 102.7. It also is available everywhere via livestreaming and will be archived on The Racing Biz website at www.theracingbiz.com.
The show is scheduled to run in them10-11 AM time spot for the next five months before shifting to a different time during August.
The following appeared in The Paulick Report March 4th.
The Colonial Downs Group today announced that it has tapped Allison De Luca to serve as racing secretary. De Luca comes to Colonial Downs Group from Tampa Bay Downs in Tampa, Fla., where she has served as racing secretary since 2006. A graduate of the Race Track Industry Program at the University of Arizona, De Luca has been involved in the horse racing industry in official capacities at racing jurisdictions in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1978.
New Colonial Racing Secretary Allison De Luca will be able to maintain the same duties at Tampa Bay Downs.
“We are delighted to have Allison joining the team at Colonial Downs as we bring racing back to Virginia,” said Jill Byrne, vice president of racing operations at Colonial Downs. “She has an extensive background with in-depth knowledge of all facets of the horse racing industry. Allison has immense respect from colleagues and the horse men and women that support Thoroughbred racing worldwide.”
Prior to joining Tampa Bay Downs, De Luca was assistant racing secretary at Churchill Downs from 1996 to 2006. She has also worked as an official for the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Park, Keeneland Racecourse and Churchill Downs.
“I am looking forward to being part of Virginia racing at Colonial Downs and the efforts to bring competitive horse racing back to the Commonwealth,” said De Luca. “This will be an exciting endeavor as we attract preeminent races to New Kent, including the Virginia Derby, the pinnacle of Virginia horse racing.”
Live racing returns to Colonial Downs on August 8 for a 15-day boutique meet through September 7. The Secretariat turf course at the New Kent property is the widest is the country and has been a popular destination for many of the top racing stables in the country throughout its history. The Virginia Derby, which has been won by the likes of champions Kitten’s Joy, Gio Ponti and English Channel, will headline a lucrative stakes schedule supported by a strong daily purse structure.
A total of 25 Virginia-Certified horses provided their respective owners with a 25% bonus from victories in January and February!
Sip of Sunshine earned a Certified bonus win for Marla Salzman at Laurel February 24th. Photo by Jim McCue.
Horses who complete a six month residency at a Virginia farm prior to December 31st of its two-year-old year are eligible for the bonus when they win in the Mid-Atlantic region. Ten of those 25 wins came at Laurel including Sip of Sunshine (shown here), who captured a $42,000 allowance race February 24th. Owner Marla Salzman collected a bonus courtesy of her three-year-old filly’s dominating win. The John Salzman trainee earned her fourth victory in 11 starts and has bankrolled $113,349 to date.
Rip Ran Riley won by 4 1/2 lenghths February 22nd at Laurel. Photo by Jim McCue.
Another pair of recent Maryland-bred/Virginia Certified winners at Laurel were Rip Rap Riley and No Refunds. The former won a $27,000 maiden claiming race on February 22nd while the latter bagged her third bonus win on the same card. Rip Rap Riley is a Ferris Allen trainee who is owned by Hickory Ridge Farm. The 3 year old Friesan Fire gelding won his race by 4 1/4 lengths in just his second start. No Refunds previously snagged bonuses in Maryland starts on June 30th and August 24th. The 3 year old Buffum filly, who is another Salzman trainee, earned her third award for owner Bird Mobberley in a $28,000 claiming sprint.
No Refunds was strong while collecting her third Certified bonus win in Maryland on February 22nd. Phoot by Jim McCue.
Taylor Mountain Farm corralled four of the 25 awards in those two winter months. Three came at Charles Town as their Windsors for It, Step Out Dancing and Charitable Rose prevailed. The fourth score, authored by Hero’s Mant, came at Laurel.
Other January and February Certified wins came at Charles Town (9), Aqueduct (4), Penn National (1) and Parx (1). Details on the Residency program along with a list of participating farms and training centers are at vabred.org.
This Saturday, March 9th, is the biggest race day of 2019 so far! Horseplayers will be treated to four major Derby prep races along with a pair of Grade I stakes — the Santa Anita Handicap and Frank Kilroe Mile.
To top it off, the Off Track Betting Center at Breakers Sports Grille in Richmond will play host to a free handicapping contest with $1,000 in cash prizes! To participate, just stop by Breakers between 11 AM – 3 PM on Saturday and fill out an entry. Fans will be asked to select one horse in each of the 8 contest races and they will get a $2 mythical win/place wager on each selection. Players that generate the five highest mythical bankrolls based on their selections will share $1,000 in prize money in this breakdown of 1st thru 5th place: $500 – $250 – $125 – $75 – $50.
Breakers is located in the TJ Maxx Shopping Center in Henrico, at 9127 W. Broad Street between Parham and Gaskins Roads.
The list of major stakes on Saturday March 9th is listed below, and the Derby preps are highlighted. Fans can wager the action at any of the four current Virginia Bets OTBs — Breakers Sports Grille, Ponies & Pints (downtown Richmond), Buckets Bar & Grill (Chesapeake) and The Windmill OTB Sports Grill (Martinsville/Collinsville). Virginia residents can also wager via our four on line betting partners: TVG.com, XpressBet.com, TwinSpires.com and NYRABets.com.
Tampa Bay Downs will host the Tampa Bay Derby (Gr. 2) March 9th.
At Aqueduct: *$300,000 Gotham Stakes (Gr. 3)
*$200,000 Tom Fool Stakes (Gr. 3)
*$250,000 Busher Invitational
*$150,000 Stymie Stakes
At Tampa Bay Downs: *$400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (Gr. 2)
*$225,000 Hillsborough Stakes (Gr. 2)
*$200,000 Florida Oaks (Gr. 3)
*$100,000 Challenger Stakes
At Santa Anita: *$500,000 San Felipe Stakes (Gr. 2)
*$500,000 Santa Anita Handicap (Gr. 1)
*$400,000 Frank Kilroe Mile (Gr. I)
*$200,000 San Carlos Stakes (Gr. 2)
At Turfway: *$200,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks Stakes (Gr. 3)
*$100,000 Kentucky Cup Classic
*$100,000 Bourbonette Oaks
Mark your calendars — the Kentucky Derby is Saturday May 4th!