Monthly Archives: May 2020

Extravagant Kid Proves the Man in Churchill Turf Sprint

The following appeared in May 29. Extravagant Kid is owned by Virginia businessman David Ross, who is President of the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association (HBPA). Ross claimed the horse for $75,000 in January, 2018. Since then, Extravagant Kid has won $561,925 in purse monies. 

The Kiss the Kid gelding outran fellow stakes winners Leinster and Wellabled.
By Byron King

Extravagant Kid didn’t have the Breeders’ Cup experience of some of his rivals in the eighth race May 29 at Churchill Downs, but he had the necessary class and determination.

Closing from midpack under Joel Rosario, the 7-year-old Kiss the Kid gelding outran fellow stakes winners Leinster and Wellabled to win by 1 1/4 lengths in a $68,824 open allowance at five furlongs on turf. It was his 14th victory from 42 starts.

Although the race was not a stakes, it might as well have been. Open allowance races at Churchill Downs this meet have replaced the overnight stakes program.

David Ross’s Extravagant Kid won for the third time in his last four starts. Photo by Coady Photography.

Unable to keep pace with the winner were four horses who raced in the Breeders’ Cup: Leinster (second), Wellabled (third), Bulletin (fifth), and Totally Boss (eighth). Leinster and Totally Boss were making their first starts since finishing unplaced in the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) at Santa Anita Park; Bulletin won the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs; and Wellabled was 10th in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T) at Santa Anita.

None of them could keep up with Extravagant Kid, though Leinster came closest, finishing evenly from a stalking position after securing room in midstretch. Wellabled, whose best efforts have come mostly on synthetic, also ran well after flying to the lead.

Totally Boss was compromised by trouble on the turn that forced him to be checked, and Bulletin was beaten 4 1/4 lengths.

Winning trainer Brendan Walsh said the July 11 Shakertown Stakes (G2T) at Keeneland could be an option for Extravagant Kid. The veteran campaigner is already a six-time stakes winner and earner of $821,210. Of that, $561,925 have come for current owner DARRS, which claimed him for $75,000 at Gulfstream Park In January 2018.

Bred in Florida by Vicino Racing Stable, Extravagant Kid ($15.80) is out of the With Distinction mare Pretty Extravagant. He finished in :57.37 on a firm course.

“He’s such a cool horse,” Walsh said. “Anytime he gets sort of amped up like that in the paddock, he runs a huge race. He’s earned more than $800,000 in his career and has run well on nearly any surface.”

Also Friday at Churchill, graded stakes winners Lexitonian and Hog Creek Hustle matched up in an $85,541 allowance optional claimer on dirt in the seventh race, and Lexitonian ($25.80) defeated the favorite by three-quarters of a length. He completed the seven furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.29 under Tyler Gaffalione.

“He ran a huge race,” the rider said. “When he felt the horses coming up from behind him, he dug in and really finished strong down the lane.”

Lexitonian won the Chick Lang Stakes (G3) last year at 3, and Hog Creek Hustle won the Woody Stephens Stakes (G1).
Jack Sisterson trains Lexitonian, a 4-year-old son of Speightstown, for owner/breeder Calumet Farm.

Colonial Downs Considering A Revised Racing Schedule

The following appeared in The Racing Biz May 29 and was written by Nick Hahn.

While public attention has centered on racetracks that ought to be open but aren’t, Colonial Downs’s July 23 opening is fast approaching, too, and Virginia horsemen are awaiting Governor Ralph Northam’s green light to return live racing this summer.

Racing officials are looking to provide an encore to last year’s successful return of live thoroughbred racing in Virginia with the reopening of Colonial Downs. As several tracks across the country have shuttered, sanitized and are re-opening their doors, a few adjustments to the upcoming Colonial Downs racing schedule may also be forthcoming.

Horsemen have proposed an early-week shift to the racing calendar at Colonial Downs. Colonial’s original 2020 racing schedule, which envisioned a replay of last year’s Thursday-Saturday slate, was approved by the Virginia Racing Commission in December of 2019 — well before coronavirus or the advent of fan-less racing.

English Bee (inside) Holds off Jais’s Solitude to win the 2019 Virginia Derby. (photo by Coady Photography.)

“We’ve been discussing it with Colonial,” said Frank Petramalo, Executive Director of the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA). “Nothing has been submitted to the Virginia Racing Commission yet.”

A Colonial Downs official referred questions on the matter to Petramalo.

Under the plan the three-day-a-week racing schedule of Thursday through Saturday would switch to Monday through Wednesday. Colonial’s opening day for its 18-day meet, currently set for Thursday, July 23, would shift to Monday, July 27.
The Virginia Racing Commission canceled its May 21 meeting, but it is expected that a meeting held in some manner will take place in late June.

“The thought [is] that Monday-to-Wednesday would work much better without spectators,” added Petramalo.

The move to early-week racing would shift Colonial’s place in the Thoroughbred landscape. Instead of following the nation’s major tracks, which all race on the weekend, the track would likely find itself virtually alone offering evening Thoroughbred racing early in the week, which could prove a boon to wagering.

During Colonial’s golden era between 2001 and 2008, the Virginia track handled over a million dollars a day on Mondays and Tuesdays, though grandstands were sparse. In those days, out-of-state handicappers showed plenty of interest in Virginia racing early in the week.

In addition to consideration of a schedule switch, Colonial has also developed a COVID-19 protocol plan that includes testing, masking and distancing. It awaits a review that goes through Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Department of Health. The plan uses the guidelines developed by the National HBPA, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and tracks currently hosting racing.

“The ultimate decision is made by the Governor and his staff,” explained Petramalo. The package of proposals would allow the running of The Virginia Gold Cup (June 27), the Middleburg Spring Races (June 13) and Colonial’s meet, all without spectators. As a result of the shutdown of wagering on historical horse racing machines in Virginia, average daily purses for Colonial’s meet are expected to fall from $500,000 to $300,000, according to Petramalo.

Tracks have opened without spectators in West Virginia, Florida, Texas, Kentucky, California, Oklahoma, Utah, New Mexico, and Nebraska, where Fonner Park recently concluded a handle record-breaking meet. New York tracks open June 3 while on Thursday, horsemen in neighboring Maryland received approval to reopen their starting gates Saturday, May 30 at Laurel Park.

Not lost on Virginia racing officials is the recently concluded meet at Fonner Park in Nebraska, which ran in its own private timeslot on early weekdays in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and cruised in the $2.5 million lane of average daily handle even without spectators. One of only a handful of tracks running with other gaming options severely limited, Fonner saw an unprecedented handle increase.

“We’re hoping the momentum built up across the country has a positive influence on our situation,” concluded Petramalo.

Middleburg Spring Races Set To Run June 13 & Virginia Gold Cup Races Set To Run June 27, Both Without Spectators

NSA Official Notices Friday, May 29, 2020 

NSA Spring Race Schedule: Please see the attached conditions for the Middleburg Spring Races and the Virginia Gold Cup. Both the Middleburg Spring Races and the Virginia Gold Cup will be run under NSA Rules and will be held without spectators. An NSA license is the only requirement to participate at these race meets.

The specific protocols for participants at both the Middleburg Spring Races and the Virginia Gold Cup will be forthcoming.
Middleburg Spring Races Entries for Middleburg close next Monday, June 1.

Substitute Race for Middleburg and Virginia Gold Cup
(Ratings Handicap Hurdle) Purse $25,000. Hurdle Handicap. For Four Year Olds and Upward which are rated 125 or lower. The highest rated horse will be assigned 158 lbs. with all other weights adjusted accordingly based on the current ratings. Minimum weight 140 lbs., not including apprentice allowances. Entry fee $125; $125 additional if not scratched on time Wednesday; $500 additional to start. Two Miles and One Furlong over National Fences

Extra Race for Virginia Gold Cup
The Louis Neilson, III (Amateur Apprentice Timber) Purse $10,000. Timber. For Five Year Olds and Upward. To be ridden by amateur apprentice riders. 170 lbs. Non-winners of a timber stakes, allowed 5 lbs.; of a race over timber, 10 lbs. Riders who have never won a race, allowed 5 lbs. No other rider allowances. Entry fee $50; $50 additional if not scratched on time Wednesday; $200 additional to start. About Three Miles over Timber

Ratings Please see the current ratings list. Note: Fillies/Mares and Four-Year-Olds will be allowed 4 lbs. additional in a Ratings Handicap.


FIRST RACE 1 THE GLENWOOD HURDLE (Allowance Hurdle) Purse $25,000. Hurdle. For Four Year Olds and Upward which have never won two races. Four-year-olds, 148 lbs.; older, 154 lbs. Entry fee $125; $125 additional if not scratched on time Wednesday; $500 additional to start. Two Miles and One Furlong over National Fences.

SECOND RACE 2 THE MIDDLEBURG HUNT CUP (Open Timber) Purse $20,000. Timber. For Five Year Olds and Upward. Five-year-olds, 160 lbs.; older, 165 lbs. Non-winners of two races over timber, allowed 5 lbs.; of a race, 10 lbs. (Amateur apprentice timber races not considered). Entry fee $100; $100 additional if not scratched on time Wednesday; $400 additional to start. Three Miles and One Quarter over Timber.

THIRD RACE 3 THE TEMPLE GWATHMEY (Grade III) (Sport of Kings Hurdle Stakes) Nominations Close Monday, June 1 Purse $50,000. Hurdle Handicap. For Four Year Olds and Upward. Nomination fee $125; $125 additional to enter; $250 additional if not scratched on time Wednesday; $1,000 additional to start. No Supplementary Nominations. In addition to NSA fees, 5% of any purse money earned in this race will be deducted as a fee to the Sport of Kings Reserve Purse Fund. Two Miles and One Half over National Fences.

FOURTH RACE 4 THE VIRGINIA EQUINE ALLIANCE MAIDEN HURDLE RUN IN MEMORY OF PAUL R. FOUT (Maiden Hurdle) Purse $20,000. Hurdle. For Maidens, Four Years Old and Upward. Four-year-olds, 148 lbs.; older, 154 lbs. Entry fee $100; $100 additional if not scratched on time Wednesday; $400 additional to start. Two Miles and One Furlong over National Fences. This race may be split with a $20,000 purse in each division, with Four-Year-Olds in one division. Note: This race is sponsored in part by the VEA for the promotion and growth of steeplechase racing in Virginia.

FIFTH RACE 5 (Maiden Filly/Mare Hurdle) Purse $15,000. Hurdle. For Maiden Filly/Mares, Four Years Old and Upward. Four-year-olds, 147 lbs.; older, 153 lbs. Entry fee $75; $75 additional if not scratched on time Wednesday; $300 additional to start. Two Miles and One Furlong over National Fences

SIXTH RACE 6 (Maiden Claiming Hurdle) Purse $10,000. Hurdle. For Maidens, Four Years Old and Upward. Four-year-olds, 150 lbs.; older, 156 lbs. Claiming price $15,000. For each $2,500 to $10,000, allowed 3 lbs. Entry fee $50, $50 additional if not scratched on time Wednesday; $200 additional to start. Two Miles and One Furlong over National Fences

SEVENTH RACE 7 (Training Flat) For Three Year Olds and Upward. Three-year-olds, 145 lbs.; older, 155 lbs. Maidens allowed 5 lbs. Jump riders are eligible for applicable jump apprentice allowances. The result of this race does not count toward a horse’s offi cial record. One Mile and One Half on the Turf.

EIGHTH RACE 8 THE ALFRED M. HUNT (Steeplethon) Purse $20,000. Timber. For Five Year Olds and Upward. 160 lbs. Entry fee $100; $100 additional if not scratched not time Wednesday; $400 additional to start. Two Miles and Five Furlongs over the Alfred Hunt Course.

NINTH RACE 9 (Maiden Timber) Purse $10,000. Timber. For Five Year Olds and Upward which have never won over timber. Five-year-olds, 160 lbs.; older, 165 lbs. Entry fee $50; $50 additional if not scratched on time Wednesday; $200 additional to start. Three Miles over Timber

RACE COMMITTEE LAUREN WOOLCOTT, Chairman P. DOUGLAS FOUT, President & Clerk of the Course F. TURNER REUTER, JR., Vice President MIDDLEBURG SPRING RACE ASSOCIATION P. O. Box 1173 Middleburg, VA 20118 107 West Federal, Unit 9B Middleburg, VA 20117 (Physical Address) 540-687-6545



FIRST RACE 10 THE VIRGINIA EQUINE ALLIANCE MAIDEN HURDLE (Maiden Hurdle) Purse $20,000. Hurdle. For Maidens, Four Years Old and Upward. Four-year-olds, 148 lbs.; older, 154 lbs. Entry fee $100; $100 additional if not scratched on time Wednesday; $400 additional to start. Two Miles and One Furlong over National Fences. This race may be split 3 ways with a $20,000 purse in each division, with Four-Year-Olds in one division. Note: This race is sponsored in part by the VEA for the promotion and growth of steeplechase racing in Virginia.

SECOND RACE 11 (Steeplethon) Purse $20,000. Timber. For Five Year Olds and Upward. 160 lbs. Entry fee $100; $100 additional if not scratched on time Wednesday; $400 additional to start. Three Miles over the Steeplethon Course.

THIRD RACE 12 THE DAVID SEMMES MEMORIAL (Sport of Kings Hurdle Stakes) Nominations Close Monday, June 15 Purse $35,000. Hurdle. For Four Year Olds and Upward. Four-year-olds, 152 lbs.; older, 158 lbs. Non-winners of $45,000 twice in 2019-2020, allowed 4 lbs.; of $45,000 once in 20192020, 8 lbs.; of $45,000 once at any time, 12 lbs. (Novice races not considered in estimating allowances). Nomination fee $75; $100 additional to enter; $175 additional if not scratched on time Wednesday; $700 additional to start. Supplementary nominations, at a cost of $350, may be made at the time of entry. In addition to NSA fees, 5% of any purse money earned in this race will be deducted as a fee to the Sport of Kings Reserve Purse Fund. Two Miles and One Furlong over National Fences

FOURTH RACE 13 THE VIRGINIA GOLD CUP (Timber Stakes) Nominations Close Monday, June 15 Purse $40,000. Timber. For Five Year Olds and Upward. 165 lbs. Nomination fee $100; $100 additional to enter; $200 additional if not scratched on time Wednesday; $800 additional to start. Supplementary nominations, at a cost of $400, may be made at the time of entry. Four Miles over the Virginia Gold Cup Timber Course.

FIFTH RACE 14 (Maiden Claiming Hurdle) Purse $10,000. Hurdle. For Maidens, Four Years Old and Upward. Four-year-olds, 150 lbs.; older, 156 lbs. Claiming price $15,000. For each $2,500 to $10,000, allowed 3 lbs. Entry fee $50, $50 additional if not scratched on time Wednesday; $200 additional to start. Two Miles and One Furlong over National Fences.

SIXTH RACE 15 (Ratings Handicap Hurdle) Purse $20,000. Hurdle Handicap. For Four Year Olds and Upward which are rated 115 or lower. The highest rated horse will be assigned 158 lbs. with all other weights adjusted accordingly based on the current ratings. Minimum weight 140 lbs., not including apprentice allowances. Entry fee $100; $100 additional if not scratched on time Wednesday; $400 additional to start. Two Miles and One Furlong over National Fences.

NOTICES Virginia breds are preferred in all races. Virginia bred, sired or certified horses will be eligible for a 25% owners’ bonus with a $10,000 cap for any win in all races.

VIRGINIA GOLD CUP OFFICE:  DR. WILLIAM H. ALLISON, Co-Chairman DR. ALFRED C. GRIFFIN, Co-Chairman DIANE JONES, Executive Director P. O. Box 840, Warrenton, VA 20188-0840 Phone: 540-347-2612 Fax: 540-349-1829

Laurel Park To Resume Live Racing May 30

The following appeared in May 28 and was written by Meredith Daugherty. 

In a May 28 meeting of the Maryland Racing Commission, members unanimously approved the decision to open Laurel Park to resume live racing beginning May 30. Simulcast, intertrack, and common pool wagering are approved to begin as early as May 29.

The Laurel Park summer meet will encompass 28 days of racing starting May 30 and ending Aug. 22. Racing will be held on a Friday and Saturday basis without the presence of spectators. Any changes to the decision to open the grounds to fans is dependent upon a change in the state’s executive order from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

“We respectfully submitted, with approval by the horsemen, those dates based on the funds we have available for the purses in the purse account with the lack of casino wagering,” said Sal Sinatra, president of the Maryland Jockey Club. “For the time being, during this pandemic, the backstretch has been operating under very stiff protocols. I thank the horsemen and riders and everyone taking care of those animals. We respectfully request that we have those dates to attempt to do what our neighbors have been doing—running fan free.”

Racing was last conducted at the MJC March 15.

On March 12, Gov. Hogan issued an executive order prohibiting the gathering of more than 250 people in a public space. At the time, Laurel Park was conducting live racing without the presence of spectators. The track continued to run horses through March 15, when the governor issued a follow-up order to close the tracks to the public for public wagering.

Alan Rifkin, attorney for The Stronach Group and Maryland Jockey Club, said that because the executive order did not expressly prohibit racing, it is possible to resume under the condition that strict safety protocols are put in place.

“As the commission is aware, on March the 12, the governor issued an executive order to prohibit gatherings of more than 250 people,” said Rifkin. “Live racing, however, was proceeding at that time without fans and we conducted racing from March 13-15. Then another executive order was issued to close the tracks to the public for public wagering. I emphasize that point because at no point has live racing been ordered to be closed.

“As a point of fact, the Maryland Jockey Club closed racing voluntarily and did so after the (March) 15th. During that time, when the Maryland Jockey Club ceased racing, we took that opportunity to work with horsemen, with breeders, and with medical colleagues to develop protocols for a safe and appropriate way to conduct racing should racing be reopened. We’re very pleased with those protocols and we think they incorporate not only best practices, but also reflect that throughout the country, live racing is proceeding at various Stronach Group tracks.”

The Stronach Group’s Santa Anita Park in Southern California was approved to resume racing without spectators May 16. Santa Anita had been closed since the health department ordered a cessation of racing March 27. In contrast, Gulfstream Park has remained open throughout the COVID-19 lockdown albeit subject to revised health and safety protocols.

“We’ve learned from our experience and incorporated much of what we have learned within the protocols we put before you,” Rifkin told the commission. “We would ask (to resume racing) in light of the fact that the executive orders, from our read of them, have never precluded live racing and we have voluntarily stood down. But it is now time to move forward without fans on the dates we have requested.

“I would point out, as I have in the past, that racing is a unique ecosystem. It is different than other gaming and sporting activities. There is no ball that passes between athletes in conflict. There is no need for—although we always want—public attendance at the facility. We’ve said many times before that racing and training are very similar enterprises. Training has continued uninterrupted during the pandemic and done so safely. The only real distinction between training and racing is the existence of the oversight of the commission and a starting gate. We have made this point many times that as an outdoor activity the transition back to live racing from training is not a large leap, it’s a natural progression.”

In response to the proposal, commission member Ernie Greco asked for clarification regarding the decision to race only on Fridays and Saturdays. Although the track has had extended race dates during the week in years past, Rifkin reiterated that the decision to keep the casinos of the state closed has impacted purse coffers.

“We take this in small steps,” said Rifkin. “Because the casinos are still closed at the moment, the purse account has to be considered in determining the number of race days and when. I think we’re at a little bit of a new universe at the moment. We want to take it slowly at first to see what we have and how to best proceed. I think the industry is well-positioned going forward to take the appropriate steps and do whatever is necessary to proceed safely and soundly both within its financial resources and its health responsibilities.”

Commission member Thomas Bowman asked Rifkin for further clarification on the proposed racing dates. Bowman put forth the notion that if following the governor’s order was a matter of compliance and not legality, the decision to resume racing on May 30 seemed arbitrary.

“We took into consideration a variety of different factors,” explained Rifkin. “We’ve always believed that our first priority is to the safety and health of the industry, the horses, and to those who participate in every aspect of it. We, like the governor, were looking to see a downward turn in the virus throughout the state before we made the overture to you as the commission and regulatory body. We, like the governor and administration, have been watching these numbers very carefully and we wanted to make sure when we requested these dates from you that we could stand on the same kind of firm foundation that the administration is standing on in opening up during Phase 1 and Phase 2. I think what you’re seeing is that our calculus and assessment is paralleling that which was made by the administration.”

The Maryland Jockey Club has issued the following protocols for horsemen when they access Laurel Park through the Horsemen’s Gate during live racing. The protocols are effective Saturday when live racing resumes:
Everyone entering through the Horsemen’s Gate must have a face covering and their Maryland Racing Commission badge. There are no exceptions.

Everyone will have their temperature checked as the enter.

The trainer or their representative responsible for saddling the horse will be the only person allowed through the Horsemen’s Gate for their specific race. Once the race is finished, they must leave immediately through the Horsemen’s Gate.

A racing official will be stationed at the Horsemen’s Gate to collect papers, coggins, colors, checks for the bookkeeper, or anything else that needs to go to the Racing Office.

The claims box will be with the racing official at the Horsemen’s Gate, where a claim must still be dropped 10 minutes to post. No one will be allowed past the gate to observe the horses in the paddock.

Any money that needs to get to the Horsemen’s Bookkeeper must either be wired (instructions are on the Laurel Park website) or be in the form of an official bank check made out to the Maryland Thoroughbred Purse Account and given to the racing official at the Horsemen’s Gate.

Please call the Racing Office if you are in need of papers or colors or anything else so we may get it out to the racing official at the Horsemen’s Gate.

No family members, guests, owners, or jockey agents will be allowed through the Horsemen’s Gate.

All grooms must have a MRC badge and face coverings once they leave the receiving barn or their respective barns to head to the paddock for their race.

As of May 28, a total of 49,709 cases of COVID-19 had been reported by the Maryland Department of Health. The number of virus-related deaths has reached 2,428.

Whenever It Gets the Go-Ahead, Rosie’s Bets On Safe Reopening – By Invitation, With Masks

The following article appeared on May 20 and was written by Michael Martz. 

Colonial Downs Group is ready to enter the starting gate for reopening Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums in Richmond and three other Virginia localities, but it plans to run a much different business than before the coronavirus pandemic shut down gaming and other recreational venues.

People will be “invited” to make reservations to visit Rosie’s locations in South Richmond, New Kent and Roanoke counties, and Hampton, under the company’s plan. They’ll have two hours to play the historical horse racing machines before cleaning crews return to scour every potentially contaminated surface before the next group of players arrives.

Employees and guests will have to wear face masks over their mouths and noses. Everyone’s temperature will be scanned by thermal cameras — and in some cases rechecked by hand — and no one will be allowed to enter with a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or other potential symptoms of COVID-19.

The formerly bustling parking lot at Rosie’s on Midlothian Turnpike (in Richmond) was empty on May 20. RTD photo by Mark Gormus.

No more elbow-to-elbow gaming at racing terminals, which will be reduced by two-thirds and spaced 6 feet apart, separated by plexiglass dividers. Outdoor dining will be allowed at the Colonial Downs race track and Rosie’s gaming emporium in New Kent, but only takeout food will be served at the other locations.

“These are unprecedented times,” said Aaron Gomes, chief operating officer at Colonial Downs, which also owns and operates the live horse racing track in New Kent. “While we may not know when we will be allowed to reopen and welcome back guests and team members to our facilities, we do want them to know we will be ready when that moment comes.”

Colonial Downs has communicated its proposal to Gov. Ralph Northam and his staff, but doesn’t expect imminent action to lift the restrictions the governor imposed on March 23, eight days after the company voluntarily closed its operations.

“It’s all about being proactive in our discussions with him,” Gomes said in an interview on Wednesday. “We want to show that we’re ready when it’s safe to do so.”

Clark Mercer, Northam’s chief of staff, said the administration recently spoke to a number of businesses that run large recreational, cultural and athletic venues.

“All of the businesses we’ve been talking to have been really serious about putting together appropriate plans to reopen safely,” he said.
Colonial Downs “has been good about communicating with us,” Mercer said. “I think their plan is a good one. It’s something we’re going to have to dig in on in a little bit.”

The reopening can’t come too soon for Colonial Downs, which has spent $5.5 million on maintaining salaries and benefits for its more than 1,000 employees in the past two months. The company, owned by the casino resort operator Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, expects to spend $500,000 on equipment, training and extensive safety measures to carry out its “Extra Care” plan for operating under the shadow of COVID-19.

Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums in the state, which have OTBs on site, closed on March 16 due to Covid-19.

The stakes are high for the lucrative gaming industry in Virginia.

Before Northam declared a public health emergency, ordered recreational and other nonessential businesses to close and prohibited gatherings of 10 or more people, Virginia was embarking on a new era of public gaming, with Colonial Downs taking an early lead.

This year, the General Assembly approved legislation, which Northam signed, that will legalize casino gambling in five Virginia cities with voter consent; allow sports betting and internet lottery sales; and compensate Colonial Downs with 2,000 additional gaming terminals, primarily at a planned facility in Dumfries, a Prince William County town in the lucrative Northern Virginia market.

The pandemic didn’t stop those plans from moving forward, but it gave unexpected life to electronic games of skill that the assembly had banned largely because they had posed unregulated competition to the Virginia Lottery. Northam gave them another year of life and taxed them heavily to generate money for the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund.

Colonial Downs is ahead of the pack because the General Assembly approved historical horse racing in 2018, allowing the operation of gaming terminals that look like slot machines but rely on data from actual races. The legislation allowed the company to operate up to 3,000 gaming terminals.

The company has invested $300 million to reopen the shuttered horse track and establish gaming parlors with a total of 2,150 machines there in New Kent; South Richmond; Hampton; and Vinton, in Roanoke County; and prepare to open a fifth Rosie’s in Chesapeake.
The company also hopes to open Rosie’s locations in Dumfries — with up to 1,650 machines under the casino legislation — and Danville, where Peninsula Pacific is vying for a casino license. Voters approved referendums last fall to allow historical horse racing gaming in both jurisdictions.

When the first Rosie’s opened in New Kent just over a year ago, 500 people lined up outside.

That won’t happen this time. Colonial Downs is producing a video that it will send to its invited guests and circulate on social media to let them know “what to expect when you come back to a Rosie’s,” said Gomes, the company’s chief operating officer. “It’s going to be a different experience.”

Instead of lining up to play, people will come to Rosie’s “by invitation only,” with reservations for a two-hour slot. Between each two-hour slot, crews will sweep in to spray sanitizer and clean thoroughly. Initially, the company will invite previous customers in its database, although it also will allow the public to make reservations through the system it already operates for dining and other events at the New Kent track.

Two-thirds of the gaming terminals in each facility will be unplugged, allowing 6 feet of space between those that remain in operation. In Richmond, that means guests can play 233 of the facility’s 700 terminals. The company will limit the number of people to less than half of each building’s approved occupancy.

When guests arrive, they will undergo touchless temperature screenings at kiosks outside the buildings. Anyone who runs a confirmed temperature of 100.4 degrees or above, or displays COVID-19 symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath, won’t be allowed to enter.
Those who show an elevated temperature will be offered a second temperature reading conducted by a security officer wearing protective gear and using a temporal thermometer. Anyone who refuses the temperature check will not be allowed to enter. Anyone whose temperature is confirmed at 100.4 degrees or higher will be turned away with an information card on COVID-19.

The new protocols include “required cloth face coverings for all employees and guests,” the plan states.

Curtis Marshall, vice president of security and a former longtime agent at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the company is drawing on the experiences at other Peninsula Pacific gaming facilities, which the company has reopened in Louisiana and expects to open this week in Kansas and later in Iowa.

“So far, the public seems to be supportive of what businesses have required in certain protective equipment, namely masks,” Marshall said.
Gomes said the Extra Care program “goes above and beyond” health and safety requirements in the five states, including Virginia, where Peninsula Pacific operates.

“Now, we want all Rosie’s guests and employees to know that when we open our doors again, their health and safety will be first in mind,” he said. “We can’t wait for our guests to resume playing, our employees to return to working, and the fun to begin at Rosie’s.”

On Line Betting Handle In Virginia Is Up 23% So Far In 2020

There may not be any fans trackside, but mainstay ovals like Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs and Oaklawn that host late winter/early spring meets have been posting record betting handles the past two months solely from on line wagering. Fonner Park and Will Rogers Downs — lesser known tracks to east coast players — have experienced similar record shattering marks.

Despite the lack of U.S. horse racing product available to wager due to the covid-19 pandemic, a large audience has embraced the handful of tracks that have been able to run. Through the first four months of 2020, handle from Virginia horseplayers is up 23% over last year. Fans can wager via four partner wagering sites —,, and

Tampa Bay Downs, which extended their meet thru April, requested to add another eight days to their season.

In April alone, TVG handled $5,261,753, which was $1.3 million more than they handled in either January, February or March. For the four month period, they have handled $16,744,374, up almost 40% from 2019.

Twinspires followed next, accepting $2,800,544 in bets which was $582,000 more than in any other month. They have handled $9,025,538 this year, up 1% over 2019. Xpressbet has seen a comparison double digit business increase. They handled $1,331,242 in April and $4,540,037 for the year, which is up 10.6%. NYRABets, newest Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) outlet of the four, is up 97% this year with $1,2317,678 in handle versus $615,846 in 2019.

Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums in the state, which have OTBs on site, closed on March 16 due to Covid-19.

Overall, Virginia residents wagered $31,627,629 in the first four months compared with $25,629,433 in 2019. Thoroughbred handle is up 29% while harness is off 21%. Unlike thoroughbreds, no North American harness track has conducted races in the past couple months.

Heading into Memorial Day weekend, the menu of tracks available to wager —without on track spectators — is increasing. The list includes Gulfstream Park, Churchill Downs, Santa Anita, Golden Gate, Tampa Bay Downs, Charles Town, Fonner Park and Will Rogers Downs. Scioto Downs will be the first harness track to return to action with an opening day of May 22.

Top 2019 Virginia-Owned Horse Bellafina Returns to Winners Circle At Santa Anita

The following appeared in May 17 and was written by Meredith Daugherty. Bellafina, who won the Desert Stormer Stakes, earned Top Virginia-Owned Horse honors in 2019. The Kentucky-bred filly is co-owned by Virginia businessman Kaleem Shah who previously won this category in 2015 with Dortmund. Bellafina bankrolled $858,725 last year from a stellar campaign that included a three stakes wins at Santa Anita — the Grade 2 Santa Ynez and Las Virgenes, and the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks. In 10 starts at California tracks — that include Del Mar and Los Alamitos as well — she has 7 wins and three runner-up finishes. 

Returning to the winner’s circle for the first time in over a year, Bellafina drew away in deep stretch to claim the $101,000 Desert Stormer Stakes (G3) May 17 at Santa Anita Park.

The favorite in a field of seven older fillies and mares, Bellafina broke from the gate just a touch slow under jockey Flavien Prat. Fighting Mad and jockey Drayden Van Dyke went straight to the lead, followed closely by Artistic Diva, who pressed the leader through an opening quarter-mile in :21.38.

Bellafina settled well back in third, allowing the frontrunners plenty of room to duel it out along the backstretch. Fighting Mad maintained a head advantage over Artistic Diva as the half-mile went in :44.47.

Bellafina and jockey Flavien Prat win the Grade III, $100,000 Desert Stormer Stakes, Sunday, May 17, 2020 at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia CA.

Turning for home, the pair came under threat from Bellafina, who ranged up three wide to draw even at the top of the stretch. Spurred home by Prat’s left-hand urging, Bellafina opened up through midstretch and crossed the wire one length clear.

The final time for the six-furlong sprint on a fast track was 1:09.85. The victory was the fifth of the day for Prat.

“This is pretty cool,” said Prat. “She broke well and she put me in a good spot and we had those two fillies (Fighting Mad and Artistic Diva) as a target. At the quarter pole, we angled out and she did the rest. It’s great to be back home with this filly, she loves it here. I won five in one day at Del Mar last summer, but never here at Santa Anita.”

Hang a Star chased the pack near the rear of the field through much of the race before kicking home between rivals in the stretch to take second. Fighting Mad held on to cross the wire in third but was disqualified to fourth following a steward’s inquiry into a claim of interference at the start. Mother Mother, Artistic Diva, Tomlin, and First Star completed the order of finish.

“It unfolded pretty much as we expected,” trainer Simon Callaghan said. “We had decent speed, and Flavien had her in a great position to stalk and gave us a really good performance. It shows how much she loves Santa Anita, and we’re glad to get her back in the winner’s circle.”

Owned in partnership by Kaleem Shah, Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith, Bellafina improved her record to 7-3-1 from 15 starts with $1,512,975 in earnings. She made her season debut April 25 at Oaklawn Park in the Carousel Stakes where she finished fourth. Her previous victory came in April 2019 when she took the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) at Santa Anita.

Bellafina was bred in Kentucky by JSM Equine out of the Malibu Moon mare Akron Moon. The daughter of Quality Road was purchased by Shah under the name K S I for $800,000 from the consignment of Wavertree Stables to The Gulfstream Sale, Fasig-Tipton’s March sale of 2-year-olds in training.

Catching Up With Virginia Owner/Breeder Anne Tucker & Her 2013 Colonial Downs “Horse of the Meet” Boltin’ Out

When Anne Tucker’s prize horse Boltin Out won the Punch Line Stakes, two allowance races and Horse of the Meet honors at the 2013 Colonial Downs thoroughbred season — it’s final one before a six year hiatus — it provided an exclamation point to a 15-plus year legacy as a breeder/owner.

Based at her Bowles Knob Farm in Western Hanover County, Tucker estimates she bred 30 or 40 horses over the years once she retired in 1996 from a career in immunotoxicology at the Medical College of Virginia and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. From that point, she devoted all of her time to breeding and from a small band of mares, had 21 winners including two stakes winners.

Anne Tucker, along with Mary Looman, conduct the “Through The Gate” program at Bowles Knob Farm.

Her great grandfather was the owner of Day Star, the fourth Kentucky Derby winner back in 1878. “He and my grandfather were noted breeders in Kentucky,” she said. “My grandfather passed away at an early age from pneumonia and my Dad was a just a kid then so of course I never knew him. As a child, I used to go the track in Kentucky with my uncles and all of them were either trainers or bookies. They’d take me into a barn and introduce me as Kenny Nickols’ granddaughter. I could do pretty much anything I wanted from that point. I could sit on a lead pony or do whatever. So yeah, racing’s kind of in my blood.”

Besides her breeding/racing involvement, Tucker is past president of the Deep Run Hunt Horse Show Association, a past board member of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association and was involved in founding the James River Chapter of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation —a Second Chances program offering unwanted race horses and inmates another chance — and is still active there.

Anne Tucker’s Bowles Knob Farm is located at the highest point in Hanover County.

Scootin Girl provided an early success story as a breeder/owner. She broke her maiden at Colonial in 2001 and went on to win a handful of races with purse earnings of $147,193. The Dumaani mare won the Jenny Wade Handicap (black-type) at Penn National, was second in the ’02 Punch Line and ’03 Somethingroyal Stakes and competed in seven other stakes. She is out of Boltin Bride by Runaway Groom.

If Scootin Girl offered an initial bookend, Boltin Out’s success created a later one of sorts. The Outflanker gelding won a maiden race and a claimer at Colonial in June, 2012 then in 2013, won the trio noted earlier. In his first four starts at Colonial, he went gate to wire. In the first three, he won by at least four lengths. After a 2014 allowance win at Delaware and a runner-up finish in the Punch Line that year — held at Laurel at this point — he called it a career with $174,505 in earnings, six wins and 13 “top three” finishes. Tucker’s second career, as a breeder, also reached the finish line.

11-year-old Boltin Out enjoys his post-racing career at Tucker’s farm.

“We had so much fun with him,” she said. Half the fun was with his trainer, Stephanie Nixon. She would run down the steps from the box seat area at Colonial Downs when the horse won, screaming at the top of her lungs. One time the track announcer even called oen of his wins a “Stephanie Nixon scream race. She still comes out to the farm frequently to see him.”

Tucker recalled a moment soon after she acquired him. “In 2012, before Boltin Out’s first race, he did some work in the starting gate and was taught to go in, stand and walk out,” said Tucker. “The day came he was supposed to break in company and I was standing on the hill with Stephanie. I said to her, ‘I hope I’m not going to be a laughingstock for claiming this horse Boltin Out.’ He didn’t disappoint us.”

Boltin’ Out won the Punch Line Stakes at Colonial Downs in 2013.

When thoroughbred racing returned to Colonial for the first time in six years last summer, Tucker attended but with mixed feelings. “It was tough,” she said. “It was my first time at the track without Nellie Cox, who I had horses with over the years and was a great friend (she passed away in 2015). That was hard. And not being involved in the business or having a horse in training any more was tough. It felt weird. But that first part is over now and I’m anxious to go again. I know I can enjoy the races.”

Boltin Out’s story doesn’t end with that 2014 retirement from racing, nor does Tucker’s. The pair combine efforts these days at the same place “Bolt” was bred and raised — at Bowles Knob Farm. Tucker has become passionately involved in a program called “Through The Gate”, which offers equine assisted personal development through a horse-human relationship model.

Anne Tucker’s Bowles Knob Farm encompasses 42 acres and has 8 paddocks. 10 horses currently reside there.

Using a method called eagala (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association), a registered, credentialed mental health professional and a certified equine specialist work together collaboratively to assure clients get therapeutic attention they need as they make life changes. Clients can include those suffering from addictions, depression and trauma and at the same time, those looking to improve relationships in families and groups through team building. Eagala, which was founded in 1999, is a non-profit organization with over 2,500 certified members in 40 countries.

Tucker became interested in eagala soon after she stopped breeding horses and was certified as an equine specialist in July of 2017. She teamed with Dr. Mary Looman, who has a PhD in Clinical Psychology and has been a licensed mental health provider for over twenty years. Her career as a trauma psychologist has been spent working with marginalized people in prisons, psychiatric hospitals and in rural and inner-city communities.

Tucker has owned Bowles Knob Farm for 23 years.

Tucker’s farm is ideally suited for teams or clients to focus on their task without distraction. It is private and quiet. Some of her retired horses are living out their years peacefully at the farm where they were bred. A few of them as well as several newcomers participate in her eagala program. “I like to work with thoroughbreds because they are very sensitive, very smart and they engage with people so beautifully,” she said. “And they pretty much have been there and done that in so many different scenarios.”

“We worked with a nursing student a couple years ago who was having frequent panic attacks. When she first came to work with us, her anxiety level was totally off the charts. She gave off an aura of this anxiety. We worked with her for six weeks and saw a great turnaround. Bolt is sort of our barometer,” Tucker added. “We brought her in with Bolt one day and he walked right up to her. When that happened, I just glowed. That showed me he’s perfect for this program. He doesn’t necessarily like for anybody to come and start fooling with him but he’s got the attitude that, ‘I’ve had a few tough days too so lets talk about it’. The student has now graduated, is working in a hospital emergency room, is engaged to be married and has a wonderful life. Success stories like that are very rewarding.”

Super Doppler is one of three horses Tucker adopted from the James River’s Second Chances program.

Tucker also adopted three horses from the Work Center program to use in Through The Gate too — Super Doppler, Timber Cruise and To Clem. They have all fit in nicely and are active in her eagala activities. Super Doppler is a 25-year-old grandson of Storm Cat and made 83 starts on the Suffolk Downs and Rockingham Park circuit during his racing career. “He had been suffering a bit at the Work Center. He had a lot of dental issues, wasn’t finishing his grain and was dropping weight so I brought him here. He is doing lots better, is a wonderful companion for Bolt and has been a great addition to the eagala program.”

Timber Cruise, another grandson of Storm Cat, was bred by Stuart Janney, III who also owned and bred 2011 Virginia Derby winner Air Support. Now 15, Timber Cruise competed in New York on the NYRA circuit first then at Finger Lakes and bankrolled $143,063 from 53 starts. “He had sort of an attitude issue initially but he’s doing fine now,” said Tucker. “He’s been here since August and lives out in a far paddock. He is out the Secretariat line so I call him Red.”

To Clem, who was also adopted from the Second Chances program, has been a star pupil in the eagala program.

Tucker noted that almost any horse can be involved in an eagala program but some horses just excel at it. To Clem is one who excels. He is 16 and only raced four times, back in 2008 at Penn National. When speaking about him, she beamed and inferred he was her best pupil. “I adopted him from the Work Center and he was just unbelievable from the start. He has a way to pick up what’s going on with somebody and just relate to them, then help them work through it. It’s really quite amazing. I knew from the get go he’d be a solid addition. You need to see how they react to a stranger.”

Tucker hopes to recruit additional horses from the Work Center’s 29 horse population. “We hope to evaluate some of those horses but right now only two can be ridden. The rest are pasture horses. One of them who would be great is Covert Action, yet another grandson of Secretariat. He likes people and I know he’d be good at it. And there are others.”

After a day’s work, Tucker can relax on her back patio which overlooks a small lake.

In the current covid-19 pandemic, Tucker is not able to accommodate groups for team building at her Through The Gate initiative. But she will take individual clients since they are outdoors and can maintain social distancing at a six foot distance. For more information, visit or e-mail her at

Montpelier Hunt Races Provide a Homecoming Environment For 18,000 Attendees

For over eight decades, the Montpelier Races have been a staple on the National Steeplechase Association’s (NSA) annual calendar. Held at the lifelong home of James Madison, fourth President of the U.S., the 86th running is scheduled to take place this coming November 7. The property, located four miles west of the Town of Orange in the Piedmont district, has evolved from plantation to 20th-century horse farm to historic landmark.

In 1901, William duPont purchased the Montpelier Estate and along with his wife Annie, made substantial changes to the house, enlarging it and adding many outbuildings and stables. Mr. duPont’s daughter, Marion duPont Scott, an accomplished horsewoman, inherited the property from her parents and resided there until her death in 1983 at which time the duPont family transferred Montpelier to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

A renovation of the Montpelier mansion from the duPont Scott era back to the Madison era was completed in 2009.

Mrs. Scott, with the help of her brother, William duPont, Jr., transformed Montpelier into a first class thoroughbred breeding and racing facility, building a state of the art steeplechase course and a flat training track. In 1934, she inaugurated the Montpelier Races on the large front lawn of the home and opened them to the public. Regarded by many as America’s First Lady of Racing, she generously supported the equine industry throughout her life and donated funds to construct Virginia’s leading equine medical center in Leesburg.

Asked to describe the niche Montpelier Hunt Races has established over decades, Executive Director Martha Strawther responded with just one word — “homecoming”.

Martha Strawther stands in front of live brush jump on the course at Montpelier.

The 86th homecoming — or running of the historic races — will take place on the grounds of the Montpelier Estate the first Saturday in November. “I like to think this is a lot like Saratoga in a way,” said Strawther, now in her 15th year. “The event is bigger and grows a little bit every year but the feel here still stays the same. People that grew up here and moved away come back every year for the races. Regulars want to share the Montpelier experience with others, especially when they find people that have never attended. It’s a very welcoming setting.”

Two horses from Ingleside Training Center, based on the property, head to the dirt training track for several laps before they ship to Belmont for the summer.

Seven races, put together by Race Directors Brooke Royster and Justin Wiley, are traditionally held with total purses of around $140,000. Featured race is the $40,000 Noel Laing Hurdle Handicap, run over their signature live brush fences. Other races pay tribute to Marion duPont Scott and her 1938 Grand National champion steeplechaser, Battleship. Between 16,000 – 18,000 people annually gather for the festivities.

Mrs. Scott’s Battleship, won the 1938 Grand National, is buried at Montpelier.

A training flat on the dirt track kicks off the afternoon races .”Mrs. Scott always used the dirt track as part of the event,” said Strawther, “So we want to continue that aspect. It sets Montpelier races apart from the other steeplechase meets. And it’s something we actually need. All the cars have to cross Center Road to access the tailgate and infield area so when we use the dirt track for our first race, we can keep Center Road open to get spectators in. The one or two times we didn’t have a dirt race, it wreaked havoc with traffic.”

A look out Montpelier’s front lawn and dirt track with mountains in the background.

Tickets always go on sale the first business day after the July 4 holiday — Monday July 6 this year. Strawther says attendees come from between 19-23 states and as far away as Arizona and California. “We attract an older crowd, family oriented and multi-generational,” she said. “We’re also becoming more popular with the James Madison University (JMU) community. We pride ourselves in having zero arrests. It’s almost at the point of being self regulating. When I come back the morning after the races, trash from everyone’s tailgate is bagged and sitting right at the parking numbers. That’s just the way the crowd is — very respectful of the event and property.”

Montpelier’s hurdle course features the live brush jumps in the Commonwealth.

“We have incredible groups that help pull this all together,” she said. One example is the Orange County ROTC which handles trash pickup duty the morning after the races. “They bring in three busloads of cadets and have the property cleaned in 2 1/2 hours.”

The Orange County High School cross country team plays a valuable role but one that is less obvious. On the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of race week, their runners come in and pick up walnuts that have dropped from trees overhanging the course, in return for being able to practice there. “A couple years ago, we had a bad storm come in on Thursday night and a new batch of nuts fell over the course they had just cleaned up,” Strawther recalled. “The Foundation office called me on Friday around 2 or 3 PM and asked who was going to pick them up. Their staff was already maxed out getting ready for race day so I said, ‘I guess I’ll have to do it’. I started walking to the course and a car pulled up next to me. The driver said, ‘Hi Martha, we’re here to pick up the nuts’. They were coaches from the cross country team that just assumed the high winds would blow nuts back onto the course. They showed up without even being called. People like that make this event a joy to put on.”

The 2020 edition of Montpelier’s Hunt Races are scheduled for November 7.

When Strawther first started as Executive Director, the Montpelier Foundation received a $10,000 or $15,000 contribution as a result the annual races. That figure has risen to around $70,000 now. “The races raise money for the Foundation so we simply can’t break even. We need to provide funds.”

Acquiring sponsors to cover purses and other expenses is a big part of her job. “It’s different now,” Strawther said. “The category of businesses that support us has changed. A new category has come in to replace older, more traditional categories. Financial management companies used to beat a door down to be a sponsor but not so much any more. Banks are harder to get now. Cars used to be the mainstay of race sponsorships but even they are hard to get now. We’re lucky though. We’ve got many loyal partners that have stayed with us. Last year, a company that wanted to broadcast our races became a sponsor and they brought a number of other companies under their umbrella which opened up new possibilities and some off the wall ones for us as well.”

A training flat race over Montpelier’s dirt oval traditionally kicks off their annual festivities.

“My favorite part of this job is that it’s so entrepreneurial,” she added. “One day I could be trying to sell a $20,000 marketing package to a prospective sponsor and the next day I could be weeding the garden path. Overall though, it’s more of a big business now,” she said. “We used to be able to handle a lot of jobs with volunteers, like putting up the national fences. Some of our Directors even brought help in from their farm to get everything set up. Now we’re more under the auspices of a paid staff and crew to get that done.”

Strawther recalls several moments that stand out over the years. “When I started here, the duPont mansion was still in place but a complete renovation was in progress. The mansion was big, pink and had a turqoise colored door. It was also much bigger than James and Dolley Madison had it originally. The renovation, which returned it to the Madison era with 22 rooms, was completed in 2009 and it was a big deal at the races that year.”

The mansion at Montpelier provides a unique setting for the annual meet.

That same year, a souvenir program that featured the history of Montpelier Races was produced for the 75th anniversary running. “People in town were very appreciative of that,” said Stawther. “There was a lot of love for Mrs. Scott in town. She was a big employer in Orange with 110 people on the payroll. There was a lot of angst among locals for taking the house back to the Madison era thru the renovation. They were reluctant to think it was a good idea but when it opened, people were won over. It fits the landscape better and the story of James Madison can be told better.”

A permanent stewards stand is located at Montpelier’s dirt track. A larger, multi-level tower for the grass course is erected and taken down each year.

Battleship, Mrs. Scott’s best horse, was celebrated at Montpelier in 2013 on his 75th anniversary of winning the British Grand National. Battleship was the first American owned and bred horse to win that preeminent test of a steeplechase horse. He won six of 12 starts as a four-year-old and started racing over fences at five. In 1938, Battleship, aong with 32 other horses, started in the Grand National, which itself was celebrating its 100th anniversary. Only 13 finished including Battleship, who won the race by a head after a nail biting stretch run. Mrs. Scott retired him to stud at Montpelier after the win and he is buried there alongside two of her other famous horses, Annapolis and Accra.

Annapolis, along with Accra and Battleship, are buried on the grounds.

The Montpelier races are the biggest one day event the Foundation puts on annually. “Mrs. Scott started this lovely tradition and we get to keep it going,” said Strawther. “The mansion being right here gives this whole event a certain aura. We are so lucky. I am so lucky. 70% of the people come back every year. Do you know how lucky that is? I am so grateful.”

The recent Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every spring steeplechase or Point-to-Point meet whether it be via rescheduling, cancellation or possibly running without spectators. Montpelier is the last scheduled race meet in Virginia this year and has some time on their side to see how events play out through the summer and early fall. Tickets go on sale July 6. For more details on the November 7 races, visit

Breeding Farms Can Now Apply For Economic Injury Disaster Loans

The following appeared in The Paulick Report May 5.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has reopened the application process for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)-COVID-19 related assistance program after a short delay. Farms with fewer than 500 employees whose primary activity is breeding horses may now apply for these loans offered to businesses that have suffered economic hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is welcome news and a terrific opportunity for horse farms that are currently facing a number of daunting challenges,” said NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop. “The NTRA encourages quick action by those interested, as the loans are processed on a first-come, first-served basis.”

The NTRA lobbied the SBA for several weeks after farms were excluded from earlier federal emergency aid packages.

On April 24, President Trump signed into law another package providing relief to small businesses, including farms and ranches.
NTRA partner Dean Dorton, one of the nation’s leading experts on equine tax matters, posted an update to the COVID-19 microsite on that outlines the new provisions that will positively impact horse breeding farms. That PowerPoint can be found here.

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