Yearly Archives: 2022

‘Folks Think We Are Crazy’: Colonial Downs to Switch to Weekend Dates in an Attempt to Draw Better Crowds

The following appeared on December 27, 2022 and was written by Jerry Lindquist.

Virginia has never been considered a major player in the world of Thoroughbred horse racing, but recent developments have thrust it into the national spotlight.

Famed operator Churchill Downs finalized its purchase of Colonial Downs earlier this year, and did not waste any time making good on its promise to deliver high-stakes racing to the commonwealth.

The company is moving two of its Grade 1 stakes races, the highest rating given by the sport’s sanctioning body, to the New Kent track for the 2023 season.

The Arlington Million, Beverly D. Stakes and Secretariat Stakes (a Grade 2 race) will be held August 12 at Colonial Downs in a one-day extravaganza of racing that Churchill’s executive director of racing, Gary Palmisano, thinks will be worthy of national network television – possibly on NBC.

The move didn’t come without controversy. The Arlington race was moved from the company’s now-shuttered track in suburban Chicago, and the Kentucky-to-Virginia move is a major switch within the industry.

The American Graded Stakes Committee, entrusted with regulating designations, met Churchill’s request to move the races after what was described as one of the most contentious discussions since the 11-member group was formed 49 years ago. In the end, industry publication Horse Racing Nation reported that the vote in favor was 6-to-5.

It’s another switch, though, that made waves locally.

The track is switching from its Monday-through-Wednesday racing formula – which produced record wagering – to Thursday-through-Saturday for the 2023 meet, which will run from July 13 to September 9. (Post time will be 1:30 p.m.)

“We could have hit the easy button and ran Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays … like every person we talked to has told us to do. Folks think we are crazy,” Palmisano said at a recent Virginia Racing Commission meeting. “We understand the challenge … and ask for a year to navigate through the process, make this the best we can make it, then re-assess.”

The Commission expressed concern during its Dec. 14th gathering that the new times would go head-to-head with the more prestigious races being run at Saratoga.

While Churchill’s vice-president for gaming operations, Jack Sours, acknowledged it was a gamble, he said the goal was to attract larger in-person attendance. To accomplish that meant Fridays and Saturdays and, down the road, Sundays – with twilight racing as well.

In 2022, Colonial’s average live attendance for 26 days (one day was lost to hot weather) was about 1,700 … which accounted for only 10 percent of the betting handle.

In 2011, the Virginia Derby drew a reported 10,100 for the event’s first night race. More than 5,000 were on hand for this year’s Derby when the 11-race card generated a track-record handle of $6.5 million, surpassing last year’s former standard of $4.8 million.

At the VRC meeting held at Colonial, Frank Petramalo, the longtime executive director of the Virginia horsemen’s association, questioned the change, noting Colonial used the Thursday-through-Saturday format for one year after the track re-opened in 2019 … and betting had more than doubled since then.

He noted the average off-track handle went from approximately $1.1 million daily (2019) to $2.2M (2021) and $2.8M (2022), both track records.

In addition, Petramalo questioned Churchill’s expectations of significantly increasing live attendance at Colonial Downs. And, neither did he buy their argument that Saratoga, which will have a 1:05 post time, seldom started on time and therefore Colonial Downs should not be hurt badly by betting on races at the iconic track in upstate New York.

“Let’s not kid ourselves … in this digital age … most racing is watched on TV and the internet … and that’s reflected by the people who are wagering. It’s nice to have fans at the track, but let’s be realistic. If a [bettor] has a choice between watching a card at Saratoga or Colonial Downs … I’m sorry … but it’s going to be Saratoga,” said Petramalo, who indicated the horsemen would favor Sunday-through-Tuesday here instead. “It’s crazy to give up our Mondays and Tuesdays. We’ve established ourselves. We’re beating everyone else in the market. Let’s look at the data … not go on wishful thinking.”

The commission heard Petramalo but didn’t listen, voting 5-0 to approve Churchill’s plan for the coming year.

Details haven’t been announced – like purse structure – but the Arlington and Beverly D. will be the first top-level Thoroughbred races held at Colonial, although it’s doubtful either will pay more than the $1 million that first Colonial owner Jeff Jacobs handed out for the Virginia Derby in 2006 and 2007.

That was part of his ill-fated, thee-year “Grand Slam of Grass,” a four-race affair that included the Secretariat Stakes. It also marked the Virginia Derby’s first of 11 Grade 2 runnings at Colonial Downs. Now Grade 3, the 2023 Virginia Derby will close the meet on Sept. 9.

Palmisano said daily purses would remain at $600,000 or more, which naturally pleased Petramalo, even though he wondered how that record-track amount under the former owners could be maintained by switching dates.

“I know we’re diving into the deep end,” Palmisano said. “But we’re going to make it happen.”

Colonial Downs Receives 2023 Race Date Approval That Features a Thursday, Friday & Saturday Schedule

Colonial Downs race dates for 2023 were approved at the Virginia Racing Commission’s December 14 meeting, and the 27-day, 9-week meet features a move to partial weekend racing after several years of operating on a Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday afternoon schedule.

The summer campaign will run from July 13 – September 9 with racing every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 1:30 PM. The 20th running of the $300,000 Grade 3 Virginia Derby is scheduled for closing day, Saturday September 9. A request has also been made to the American Graded Stakes Committee, as of press time, to consider running a pair of Grade 1 stakes, the Arlington Million and Beverly D, along with the Grade 2 Secretariat Stakes, at Colonial on Saturday August 12. The 2023 live race meet will be the first at Colonial Downs under the operation of new owners, Churchill Downs Incorporated (“CDI”).

A view of Colonial Downs’ finish line during the VRC’s meeting in New Kent December 14.

“There were many considerations taken into account to arrive with this schedule,” said Jack Sours, VP of Gaming for CDI. “The long-term goal of Churchill Downs is to offer racing on weekends. That is our goal to be clear. We feel racing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday is a good first step toward that. This will allow more fans to enjoy racing in New Kent and will allow us to run the Virginia Derby on a Saturday.”

The 2021 and 2022 Virginia Derbies were both held on a Tuesday. The ’22 edition attracted an all-time record handle of $6.5 million. The overall ’22 meet itself offered $612,000 in average daily purses, had 8.35 starters per race and saw 1,382 horses from 321 trainers compete in the 9-week session. Approximately 40,000 fans attended the races on track.        

Capensis, with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., captured the 2022 Virginia Derby (Coady Photography).

“Another consideration in this process was finding a consistency in the post times. As we enter into this more competitive schedule, we need fans to be able to find our signal easily. Saratoga normally starts at 1:05 PM or a little bit after, so we can start after their first race and continue in that manner through the afternoon. Another key consideration was the ship-ins. We have a lot of horses that ship from Maryland and other areas so by having consistent matinee post times, it will be easier for them to plan and then get back home at a reasonable hour.”

From a fan standpoint, the new management team will face some hurdles. 

“Moving to new days and times will require a lot of human resources,” added Sours. “We have to staff the place to accommodate large Saturday crowds and we know that’s not going to be an easy challenge. We’re all aware of staffing issues these days but we’re committed to overcome that challenge. There’s also the logistic piece as to how this will all flow,” he continued. “We want to get our feet on the ground with this new schedule, then can always come back with further adjustments. The final consideration is the opportunity to host corporate outings on Thursdays and Fridays. We have found success with that piece at our other properties. It will give us a chance to expose racing to a new audience and drive attendance.”  

Summer racing in New Kent provides unique scenes on occasion.

Sours said HHR handle is on pace for $3.9 billion this year, a 25% increase over the prior year. He expects that Colonial will add more Historical Horse Racing (HHR) terminals in 2023 which could result in additional race dates come 2024. There are currently 2,606 machines in operation between six Rosie’s Gaming Emporium sites. He projects that two more could come on board as early as September next year. The Rosie’s in Emporia will have 150 and the first phase of “The Rose” gaming resort in Dumfries is expected to open with 1,150 terminals. 

“More HHR means more race dates,” said Sours. This will allow us to add more dates and possibly race over the entire weekend instead of just Saturdays. We may even explore evening racing in the future but we need to understand the entire operation first before we can even think about that. That’s something we’ll have to work towards.”

Gary Palmisano, CDI’s Executive Director of Racing, spoke at the meeting and addressed the strong safety record of Colonial’s turf and dirt surfaces. “It’s a very well kept track and we want to continue to maintain what already is in place,” he said. “The track crew that has been on board — that includes Harrison Young, Ken Brown and James Jackson — will not change.”

Horses will be out of the gate July 13 at Colonial Downs (Coady Photography).

Palmisano noted the 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown run will be an important element of Colonial’s promotional focus in 2023 especially if the Secretariat Stakes is held in New Kent along with the other two Grade 1 stakes. 

“It will take some doing, but if we are able to get those three historically important stakes here on August 12th, our vision is to make that one of the biggest days in Virginia horse racing history with thousands of people on hand. There isn’t a Grade I stakes in this area after Preakness Day.”

Another key Saturday event will be the annual Virginia-Bred Stakes Day along with others in the planning stage. “We’re talking to a lot of people about promotions that can bring people in. Our goal is to make every Saturday a really big event day.” 

Work has begun in earnest to make the 2023 meet under CDI’s leadership a success. “Folks think we’re crazy for taking on this schedule,” said Poliseno. “We could have hit the easy button and continued to run on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday like everyone told us to do. We just want to have one year to navigate this new schedule and see how it goes.”   

Updates in the coming days will be available at and `   

Jill Byrne Leaving Colonial Downs After “Exhausting, Rewarding’ Tenure

The following appeared at “” December 12 and was written by Nick Hahn.

With the November closing of a multistate sale of assets from Peninsula Pacific Entertainment to Churchill Downs, the upcoming Virginia Racing Commission meeting on December 14 will provide new insight into a new era of racing at Colonial Downs.

One thing will certainly be different. The new track owners will move forward without Jill Byrne, who served as Colonial’s Vice-President of Racing Operations from its 2019 reincarnation following a six-year stoppage. Under Byrne’s leadership, Colonial attracted a wide array of horses and horsemen, achieved record wagering handle figures, and maintained a strong safety record.

Byrne spent much of her professional career with Churchill Downs, first as an on-air signal host and later directing broadcast operations, helping to modernize the way racing, including the Kentucky Derby, is received.

So it might have seemed a logical fit for her to remain in her Colonial role for the new ownership. In fact, Byrne said she was encouraged to stay on at Colonial and had praise for both Churchill and the situation the company will inherit in Virginia.

“I appreciate the offer from Churchill Downs to stay on at Colonial Downs,” Byrne said. “Churchill is like horseracing family to me. I was there a long time and have some incredible friends and colleagues there. I have huge respect for management. They are extremely smart — very sharp at what they do. One thing I’ve shared with them is that the sky is the limit in Virginia for the horse industry. Churchill Downs has the team and resources to support the continued growth in Virginia and success that I’m proud to be a big part of the last four years.”

Colonial, which began racing in 1997, was shuttered following its 2013 meet amid acrimonious disputes between the state’s horsemen and then-track owner Jacobs Entertainment. When the state legislature approved “historical horse racing” machines, leading to the sale of Colonial, Byrne was approached by the new owners with “an opportunity just way too exciting and challenging for me to turn down.”

That allowed her not only to spearhead the return of racing to Colonial but to do so in her home state. Byrne grew up in Virginia, her father Peter Howe a trainer for Marion duPont Scott, who had horses at Belmont Park and at Montpelier, James Madison’s Virginia estate, which she owned.

Jill Byrne
From 2019, Jill Byrne at Colonial’s annual turf burn. Photo by Nick Hahn.

It was perhaps Byrne’s work ethic and success with Colonial’s quick rise that contributed among other factors in turning down the chance to circle back with Churchill Downs.  Byrne, visibly and invisibly, managed Colonial’s return in 2019 from a five-week, 15-day meet to a record-breaking 27-day meet conducted over nine weeks in 2022.

The complexities and logistics of a growing seasonal meet in a state that doesn’t have year-round racing required demanding “minute-by-minute, boots-on-the-ground, A-to-Z operations,” Byrne said.

Average daily handle in 2022 reached nearly $2.9 million, a record for the facility. Each of the final two days of this year’s meet saw more than $6 million wagered on Colonial’s product – the two best days in the track’s history.

“It was four years of what we did to get to this point to make Colonial Downs and Virginia racing so valuable to Churchill Downs,” observed Byrne. “It was exhausting and rewarding at the same time when you’re the one person responsible for the entire racing part of it — the safety and everything that goes with it. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.”

As rewarding as it was, however, it’s important for Byrne not to have her decision confused.

“It’s my choice, my decision, my future which is very important to me. It was going to have to be change regardless,” explained Byrne. “I’ve seen what Churchill can do, and I think they are going to be a huge asset.”

Byrne, with Stall Superintendent Carlos Garcia.

Byrne was born and raised in Virginia, and most of her family lives nears Charlottesville. She graduated from the University of Virginia before moving to Kentucky. Byrne’s father passed away in September. The event may have changed her family dynamic, but don’t expect it to put her out to pasture. She’s resolved in her commitment towards racing’s future.

“I look forward to continue to make a positive impact in the horse racing industry that has literally been my life from the day I was born and that my dad made sure that I took on every challenge and got me where I am today,” she said.

VTA Welcomes Patricia Ramey As Its Newest Board Member

The Virginia Thoroughbred Association is pleased to welcome long-time thoroughbred breeder Patricia Ramey to its Board of Directors. She will be replacing Jim Fitzgerald, who had to resign his seat due to out-of-state work obligations.  

Patricia has been involved in Virginia horse racing since 1991. Her Hunt Ridge Stables are based at the Blue Ridge Farm in Upperville — a venue that has served as a horse breeding farm since 1903. The property includes three broodmare stables, two stallion stables, training stables and an implement shed. The property was purchased by Rear Admiral Cary Travers Grayson in 1928 and it is still owned today by members of the Grayson family.

Patricia has been quite active since that initial mare purchase in ’91. She acquired more mares shortly after and even purchased a stallion from Edward Evans’s farm. 

Fast forward to 2022 where she has foaled 34 mares, many of which were from out of state — 12 from West Virginia with others from South Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania and of course, Virginia. 

She partners with Susan Cooney in equine ventures as well. Patricia foals Susan’s mares and raises the babies, then when Patricia has a horse to race, Susan serves as trainer. This year, Patricia took 7 yearlings — of hers and Cooney’s — to the VTA’s annual Yearling Futurity at the Warrenton Horse Show Grounds. One of those won Reserve Champion honors — Pretty Jimmy, who is owned by Quest Realty and was bred by Dan Wukich. 

 Congratulations to Patricia and we all look forward to her further contributions to Virginia racing and breeding as a VTA Board member.   

Virginia Certified Filly Crowned Grand Champion in 2022 Virginia Breeders Fund Yearling Futurity 

The 21st annual Virginia Breeders Fund Yearling Futurity was held September 13 at the Warrenton Horse Show Grounds which again saw solid participation from twenty different breeders who were competing for $40,000 in awards.

Prize money of $7,500 was distributed that day in each of four classes — VA-Bred/Sired yearling colts/geldings, VA-Bred/Sired yearling fillies, VA-Certified colts/geldings and VA-Certified fillies. Grooms were recognized as well with awards in each division and in the championship class. 

A total of $5,000 in bonus monies will also be split between top earning Virginia-Bred/Sired participants at the end of their three-year-old seasons — based on earnings at that time. An identical prize pool and deciding factors will apply to Virginia-Certified Yearling participants as well. 

2022 Yearling Futurity Grand Champion is an Un-named bay by Cooper Bullet, shown with owner Sara Miller of Timbercreek Farm, the VEA’s Jeb Hannum and event judge Frank Shipp.

Event judge was Frank Shipp, who compared each entrant’s conformation, quality, substance and suitability to become racehorses. The top two finishers in each of the four classes returned to compete for Futurity Grand Champion and Champion Reserve honors.  

The Grand Champion, winner of the Virginia Certified Fillies class, was a 2021 Un-named bay by Cooper Bullet out of Worth The Risk by Bodemeister. She is owned by Timbercreek Farm’s Sara Miller. Reserve Champion honors went to the winner of the Virginia-Bred/Sired Colt/Gelding category, Pretty Jimmy. The chestnut by Jimmy Cred is owned by Quest Realty and was bred by Dan Wukich. 

Finishing second in the Certified Fillies category was an Un-named bay by Good Magic (Timbercreek Farm) followed by an Un-named by Street Boss (David Ross). Rounding out the class was Made Birdie (Charles Clement & Brandon Mackey), an Un-named by Bourbon Courage (Eagle Point Farm), an Un-named by Frank Conversation (Alfred Smithwick), and a pair of Un-nameds owned/bred by Joni Fontana/Sugarland LLC and Equine Etiquette. They were by Unified and Outwork respectively.

The balance of the Virginia-Bred/Sired class included second place finisher Aonbharr (Susan Cooney), an Un-named by Limehouse (Darlene Bowlin), Nancy Made My Day (Quest/Wukich), Mister Rockefeller (Phyllis Jones), Cousin Giorgos (Quest/Wukich), Free Costs To Much (DMC Racing/Didier Plasencia), Lucky Pauper (Quest/Wukich) and Lord Rockingham (Tim Hulings & Analie Laressi).      

 2022 Yearling Futurity Reserve Champion is Pretty Jimmy, owned by Quest Realty and bred by Dan Wukich (in orange shirt).

Friend Fuhr Real, a chestnut by Friend or Foe, won the Virginia-Bred/Sired Fillies class. Owned and bred by Katherine Martin, the champ is out of the Fiber Sonde mare, I Am Furh Real. Runner-up was Foe What Its Worth — also by Friend or Foe — and is owned by Williams Howland Jr. and co-bred by Howland, Allison Consentino and Timothy Stephan. Am Un-named by Golden Lad was third (Patricia Ramey). The rest in order were an Un-named bay by Great Notion (Morgan’s Ford Farm), a 2021 Un-named by Street Boss (MFF/Sally Thomas) and Buzzaway (Carlos Moore/Gillian Gordon-Moore).

In the Virginia-Certified Colt/Gelding class, a 2021 Un-named dark bay/brown by Great Notion prevailed over six others. Owned by Fontana and bred by Sugarland/Equine Etiquette, the ribbon earner is out of Lemon Schnapps by Flatter. Runner-up was an Un-named bay by Great Notion owned/bred by Eagle Point Farm. Thankmyluckymoons was third (Quest/Wukich) followed by Big Happy Notion (Fontana/Sugarland/Equine Etiquette), No Cents Non Cents (Eagle Point Farm), Orienteer (Kathleen Hamlin) and a ’21 Un-named by Unified (Fontana/Sugarland/Equine Etiquette).

Amy Moore’s South Gate Farm Making Noise from Saratoga to Keeneland

Updated: September 1, 2022 at 6:46 pm. This story appeared in Thoroughbred Daily News.

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Forte | Susie Raisher

By Jessica Martini

After a youth spent around horses, Amy Moore took a three-decade long sabbatical from the sport to focus on a career in law, but she is making up for lost time with the launch of her South Gate Farm in Millwood, Virginia. The fledgling operation has a star-in-the-making in ‘TDN Rising Star’ Forte (Violence), who goes postward in Monday’s GI Hopeful S. at Saratoga, and will follow up the following Monday when that colt’s half-brother by Uncle Mo (hip 11) goes through the sales ring during the first session of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

“I rode as a child and teenager and showed hunters that belonged to other people,” Moore said of her first introduction to horses while growing up in Raleigh, North Carolina. “The people I was with got into racehorses and I helped them at a few sales. Then I galloped horses one summer at the track for Del Carroll, Sr.”

Eventually, Moore had to take a step back from her interest in racing.

“I had to earn a living, so for 30 years I worked as a lawyer in Washington, D.C.,” she said. “But when I retired, I bought a farm and bought a couple of horses.”

Moore bought South Gate Farm in 2015 and moved to the 126-acre property in January of 2016.

A year before purchasing the farm, she made her first equine purchases at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Her very first purchase was Queen Caroline (Blame), who she acquired for $170,000. Trained by Michael Matz, the dark bay went on to win four stakes races in Moore’s colors in 2016 and 2017 and earned over $400,000 before helping to kick start the South Gate broodmare band.

Forte, Queen Caroline’s first foal, sold for $80,000 as a weanling at the 2020 Keeneland November sale and was purchased by Mike Repole and Vinnie Viola for $110,000 at Keeneland September the following year.

“I thought he was a gorgeous foal,” Moore recalled. “I was really happy with him. I had had weanlings by Violence that I had pinhooked–I bought weanlings and sold yearlings–and I liked them, but they didn’t really resemble the sire at all. So I was pleased to get a foal in Forte that looks a lot like Violence. He’s a good blend of his sire and his dam.”

The prohibitive 1-5 favorite, Forte romped to a 7 3/4-length debut victory (video) May 27 at Belmont Park.

“When he won big in his first race, of course, that was a joy to see,” Moore said. “That was what I was trying to achieve when I bred the mare to Violence. I hoped to get a foal that had a little more speed and was a little more precocious than she was, but had her athleticism and racing temperament. It worked out just as I had hoped. Another case, I am sure, where it won’t always work out like that. But Queen Caroline has been very good to me, both as a racehorse and as a broodmare. If they were all like her, it would be easy.”

Forte comes into the Hopeful off a fourth-place effort in the six-furlong GIII Sanford S. July 16 and will get an extra furlong to work with Monday at Saratoga.

“I would be ecstatic if that happened,” Moore said of a possible Hopeful win. “But I think, win or lose the Hopeful, he looks like he’s going to be a good racehorse. So I am looking down the road, as I am sure his connections are, and hoping for good things for him. I think he will do better as the races get longer. So I think the extra furlong in the Hopeful will help and I hope he goes on from there.”

Queen Caroline next visited Uncle Mo and produced a colt by the Coolmore stallion last spring.

“It is a cross that I really liked, both physically and in the pedigree,” Moore said. “The mare is a nice, big athletic mare and Uncle Mo is obviously a nice, big athletic stallion with a similar build. But it also has some intriguing pedigree aspects to it. Nyquist (Uncle Mo) is out of a Forestry mare and Queen Caroline is out of a Forestry  mare. And the good filly by Uncle Mo, Bast, is out of an Arch mare and Queen Caroline is by Blame who is by Arch. So you have a lot of good pedigree connections to some very successful runners, as well as having a good physical match.”

The yearling will be Moore’s first homebred Book 1 offering at Keeneland September when he goes through the ring as part of the Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services consignment next Monday.


“He is a lovely colt,” she said of the yearling. “I am prejudiced, of course, but he is a really, really nice colt. He has his dam’s mind, which is good, he has a good racing temperament. He is tall and big-bodied and strong and athletic. I think he is what everyone wants–he’s what I want.”

Well. The colt wasn’t exactly what Moore wanted.

“I was, to be honest, hoping to get a filly,” she said with a laugh. “I would have kept and raced her and hoped to retire her to the broodmare band one day. But I got a very nice colt.”

The colt conundrum is nothing new to Moore, who currently has four broodmares housed at her Virginia farm.

“I have bought nothing but fillies,” she said. “I sell the colts that I breed. I would keep fillies, if I ever had a filly. I am 0-for-7, seven colts and no fillies.”

Moore takes stock of market conditions when determining when to sell her foals.

“I just sort of fly by the seat of pants,” Moore explained. “If the stallion is doing very well, as Violence was when I sold Forte–I think Violence had three Grade I winners that year–I might sell the foal as a weanling. But if it’s a nice physical that I think would be one to send to the Saratoga select sale or one of the first two books at Keeneland, then I would keep it and sell it as a yearling. It just depends on how the stallion is doing and how the foal develops. And what the finances are like.”

As for Queen Caroline, after not producing a foal in 2022, she is now in foal to Not This Time.

“She was in foal to Authentic, and lost that one, which was very disappointing, but I am really excited that she is in foal to Not This Time,” Moore said. “I think that’s going to be a great match and who knows, I might get a filly this time. She is an easy mare to mate because she is doesn’t have any faults you want to breed away from. She is a very nice well-conformed mare that had a lot of success on the track. So you are trying to add a little speed and a little precociousness to the offspring, but you don’t really have faults that you want to breed away from. Which is helpful.”

Queen Caroline’s first two foals are both Kentucky-breds, but future foals are expected to be born at South Gate Farm.

“In the case of Forte and his brother, those I sent the mare back to Kentucky to foal,” Moore said. “I am now starting to foal in Virginia, so that I will have Virginia-bred foals.”

In addition to her four-horse broodmare band, Moore also has borders at South Gate taking advantage of the Virginia-certified program which allows horses conceived and foaled outside of the state to become eligible for incentives at Mid-Atlantic racetracks if they maintain residency in Virginia for at least a six-month consecutive period prior to Dec. 31 of their 2-year-old year.

“I have lot of yearlings, a lot of boarders, that are here for the Virginia-certified program,” Moore said. “And I do some sales preparation for the boarders.”

Reflecting on her seven years as a farm owner, Moore said, “I enjoy living on a farm. It’s very nice to have a reason to have a farm–you can’t have 126 acres and not have any animals. So that’s been a lot of fun. The racing has been highs and lows, as it is for everybody. When it’s good, it’s spectacular. When it’s bad, it’s pretty depressing. But you get through the bad and hope for more of the good. And on balance, I have enjoyed it quite a bit.”

The Keeneland September sale opens with two Book 1 sessions next Monday and Tuesday beginning at 1 p.m. Book 2 sessions Wednesday and Thursday begin at 11 a.m. and, following a dark day Friday, the auction continues through Sept. 24 with sessions beginning daily at 10 a.m.

Virginia Derby® Day to Feature $1 Million in Purses and a $25,000 “Cash Dash” for Fans

Day of Family Fun & Cash Dash Drawings Highlight Event on September 6

NEW KENT, Va. (September 1, 2022) – Featuring horses from nationally prominent trainers, Colonial Downs Group is pleased to announce large crowds are expected for the New Kent County Virginia Derby on Tuesday, September 6. The nation’s top turf horses will compete on the widest turf course in North America. Post time is 1:45 p.m.  The day will be highlighted by the grade 3, $300,000 New Kent County Virginia Derby® for 3-year-olds, along with the $200,000 Virginia Oaks® for 3-year-old fillies, both of which will be raced over the renowned Secretariat Turf Course named for the famous Triple Crown champion who was born in Doswell, Virginia. A total of $1 million dollars in prize money will be up for grabs on Virginia Derby Day.

Be there for your FREE chance to win a share of $25,000 cash in the New Kent County Virginia Derby Cash Dash where 50 lucky winners will win $500.  Numbers will be drawn after each race between 2 pm and 6 pm. Plenty of family friendly entertainment will be available on the grounds, including a Dixieland strolling band, magician, juggler, and face painter. Plus, Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year, T-Fox will be performing the National Anthem, God Bless America, and a free show at Rosie’s immediately after the last race. Additionally, a variety of food trucks will be on-site.

Wootton Asset won the New Kent County Virginia Derby in 2021 (Coady Photography).

FREE general admission includes access to an air-conditioned Homestretch Hospitality tented space, apron access with track and paddock-side viewing where you can get up close to the horses, covered bench seating and access to the Paddock Bar. Drink specials to highlight the occasion will be offered. Additionally, Colonial Downs will offer other options including clubhouse dining, clubhouse boxes, turf club dining and turf club suites. Parking and general admission are both free for the biggest horse race in Virginia!

2019 Virginia Derby winner English Bee (#8, inside) won a thriller at Colonial Downs over Jais’s Solitude. Photo by Coady Photography.

The event culminates the fourth successful season of Thoroughbred horse racing at Colonial Downs since the track was revitalized and re-opened in 2019. “Peninsula Pacific Entertainment has not only lived up to the promise of bringing high caliber Thoroughbred horse racing back to Virginia but is honored to present this year’s Virginia Derby card.  It is great to see so many families and fans enjoying live racing that adds so much value to business and tourism in the Commonwealth,” said John Marshall, executive vice president of operations for Colonial Downs Group.

Trainer Graham Motion will be going for his fourth straight Derby win on September 6.

For fans who can’t make it out to the track on September 6, all the excitement can be viewed live, and wagers can be made through  For more information on 2022 Colonial Downs Racing presented by Woodford Reserve visit

About Colonial Downs Group: Colonial Downs Group is a proud business operator in Virginia employing more than 1,000 team members in the Commonwealth, paying over $30 million in annual salaries, wages, and benefits. Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums® in Richmond, Hampton, New Kent, Vinton, and Dumfries offer innovative historic horse racing (HHR) gaming technology and full card simulcasting. Colonial Downs Group also operates a Rosie’s Game RoomTM in Collinsville, which features a limited selection of some of their best HHR titles. Colonial Downs Racetrack in New Kent County hosts live thoroughbred racing on two nationally renowned surfaces – Secretariat Turf Course, the widest turf course in North America at 180 feet wide and on a 11/4-mile dirt track, second in length to only the world-famous Belmont Park.

Colonial Downs, Virginia HBPA to Honor TAA on Virginia Derby Day

August 30, 2022 (Lexington, KY): Another successful Colonial Downs race meet will culminate on Virginia Derby Day, highlighted by a dedication to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA).

The Kitten’s Joy Stakes (G3) will be presented by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance on Virginia Derby Day. A presentation of a TAA blanket and swag bag will be made to the winning connections following the running of the race.

“We’re thrilled to again partner with the TAA in sponsorship of the Kitten’s Joy Stakes,” said Colonial Downs Vice-President of Racing Operations, Jill Byrne. “We appreciate and value the importance of what the TAA provides to the industry and are happy to recognize their great efforts on our biggest day of the year, especially with a race named after one of the greatest Virginia Derby winners ever.”  

The TAA will host the Best Turned Out Horse awards sponsored by the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent Protection Agency (HBPA) for every stake race on the Sep. 6 card.

Winning grooms of the Best Turned Out Horse awards sponsored by the Virginia HBPA will receive a $100 cash prize and a TAA swag bag and will be streamed on the live simulcast feed at the New Kent, Virginia-based track.

“The Virginia HBPA is happy to sponsor and recognize the fine care that grooms provide our horses,” said Virginia HBPA Executive Director, Frank Petramalo Jr. “We at the Virginia HBPA are so appreciative of what the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and its accredited organizations provide for these horses after they retire.”

Initiated in 2019, Colonial Downs and the Virginia HBPA have each pledged $15 per start at the Colonial Downs meet to the TAA.

Colonial Downs and the Virginia HBPA combined to make a $50,000 donation to the TAA in 2021.

“Both Colonial Downs and the Virginia HBPA are staunch supporters of the TAA, and we are thankful for their recurring inclusion of the TAA on Virginia Derby Day,” said TAA President, Jeffrey Bloom. “We look forward to this event every year and the opportunity it provides to work alongside TAA supporting racetracks and horsemen’s groups to promote Thoroughbred aftercare.”

About Colonial Downs

Colonial Downs Group is a proud business operator in Virginia employing more than 1,000 team members in the Commonwealth, paying over $30 million in annual salaries, wages, and benefits. Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums® in Richmond, Hampton, New Kent, Vinton, and Dumfries offer innovative historic horseracing (HHR) gaming technology and full card simulcasting. Colonial Downs Group also recently opened a Rosie’s Game Room™ in Collinsville, which features a limited selection of some of their best HHR titles. Colonial Downs Racetrack in New Kent County hosts live thoroughbred racing on two nationally renowned surfaces – Secretariat Turf Course, the widest turf course in North America at 180 feet wide and on a 1 1/4-mile dirt track, second in length to only the world-famous Belmont Park. Colonial Downs Group has made a $300 million investment in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The company pays more than $32 million in annual state and local taxes plus an additional $12 million in racing industry payments annually. 

About the Virginia HBPA

The Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent Protection Agency is a non-profit organization whose members are owners and trainers licensed to race in Virginia by the Virginia Racing Commission. On their behalf it negotiates horsemen’s contracts with Colonial Downs and provides benevolent services for individuals working on the backside of the racetrack. The VHBPA is affiliated with the National HBPA in Lexington, Ky. To learn more about the VHBPA, visit

About the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance

Based in Lexington, KY, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that accredits, inspects, and awards grants to approved aftercare organizations to retrain, rehome, and retire Thoroughbreds using industry-wide funding. Along with continued funding from its original partners Breeders’ Cup, The Jockey Club, and Keeneland Association, the TAA is supported by owners, trainers, breeders, racetracks, aftercare professionals, and other industry members. Since inception in 2012, the TAA has granted more than $24.5 million to accredited aftercare organizations. Currently 82 aftercare organizations and approximately 180 facilities across North America have been granted accreditation. To learn more about the TAA, visit

PHOTO: Suzie Picou-Oldham


Stacie Clark


Alexandra Kokka

Simply Super, Titoschangedmyluck Capture $150,000 VA-Restricted Stakes in New Kent

NEW KENT, Va. (Aug. 9, 2022) – Maxis Stable’s Simply Super ($5.00) passed odds on favorite Heldish inside the sixteenth pole to win the $150,000 Hickory Tree Stakes, and Matthew Schera and Lawrence Stable’s homebred Titoschangedmyluck ($29.80) split horses in deep stretch to capture the 5-furlong, $150,000 Keswick Stakes for 2-year-old fillies in co-featured Virginia Bred/Sired Virginia Certified stakes races Tuesday at Colonial Downs.

In the Hickory Tree, Simply Super, trained by Mike Maker and ridden by Horatio Karamanos, won his second race in four starts this year. A son of 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Super Saver out of So You Know by Jump Start, Simply Super completed the 5 furlongs over a fast track in 56.74.

Simply Super wins the $150,000 Hickory Tree Stakes August 9 at Colonial Downs (Coady Photography).

Heldish, the 4-5 favorite, broke on top in the eight-horse field, and saved ground along the rail going into the far turn. Simply Super came from fourth to second place at the top of the stretch, set his sights on Heldish, and eased by in the final yards.

“I saw the speed was with the four (Heldish). My horse broke okay, but the four quickly and of the gate, and I chased him to stay close,” said Karamanos. “ He (Simply Super) was a little lazy at the top of the stretch but he responded.”

Grand Escape finished third, followed by My Mamba in fourth.

This was the second time this meet that Karamanos and Maker combined to win a stakes race.  The duo won the Colonial Cup with Red Knight on July 27. 

Simply Super won on debut at Keeneland on April 20 in a 4 ½ furlong maiden special weight. In his most recent start, he finished fourth in the listed 6-furlong Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs on July 4.

In the Keswick, Titoschangedmyluck ($29.80) split horses in deep stretch and sped to a 2 1/2-length victory over Rebel Consort. Trained by James Lawrence II and ridden by Jeiron Barbosa, Titoschangedmyluck broke her maiden in her third start.

Titoschangedmyluck was best in the $150,000 Keswick Stakes (Coady Photography).

Facing seven rivals, Titoschangedmyluck broke well and stayed in fourth on the backstretch while Bee Mountain set the pace up front through the stretch, followed by 35-1 Rebel Consort. As Bee Mountain faded, Barbosa found a space between the two leaders in the final furlong to post a 2 ½ length victory over Rebel Consort, with Livana finishing in third, Cocktail Dreaming in fourth and Bee Mountain in fifth.

A daughter of Social Inclusion out of Tiztito by Tiznow, Titoschangedmyluck completed the 5 furlongs in 58.59 over a fast track.

“She’s always shown me a lot of talent,” said Lawrence. “She really blossomed so I wanted to give her a chance here. It’s not every time that you can run for $150,000.”

Buoyed by an $82,000 carryover in the Pick 5, an additional $761,373 was bet into the wager on Tuesday and combined with the other offerings on the race led to a total of $1,113,614, bet into the sixth race on August 9 at Colonial Downs. That total is the highest non-Virginia Derby single race pool in the history of the New Kent, Virginia racetrack.

The New Kent, Virginia, track’s Pick 5 was altered this year to offer a carryover pool when nobody selects all five winners in the sequence which covers the last five races daily. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent minimum wager and offers a low 12% takeout rate.

Total handle on the 10-race card was $4,158,873.

Colonial Downs’ Average Daily Wagering Up 30 Percent In 2022

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Spearheaded by competitive fields on both of its racing surfaces and continued high interest in its Pick 5 wager, Colonial Downs has announced that the average all-sources wagering through the first five weeks of the 27-day Colonial Downs presented by Woodford Reserve race meeting is up 30.7 percent over the same corresponding time period of the 2021 meet.

Now in its fourth year under the management of the Colonial Downs Group and ownership of Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, Colonial Downs has registered a daily all-sources average handle of $2,625,248 through the first 15 days of the meeting, compared to the daily all-sources wagering handle of $2,008,092 through the first 15 days of the 2021 meeting.

Colonial Downs is offering a record of more than $600,000 in daily average purses for the season, attracting horsemen and horsewomen from various parts of the nation to the New Kent facility for the daily Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon racing programs.

Additionally, horseplayers wagering on the Colonial Downs races have taken a liking to the Pick 5 wager, which last week produced an $82,000 carryover into the Aug. 9 race card leading to $761,000 in new money wagered the following day. The Pick 5 at Colonial Downs, a 50-cent minimum wager, has a take-out rate of 12%, which is one of the lowest take outs offered by any racing facility in the U.S. The wager was altered this year to offer a carryover pool when no one selects all five winners in the sequence which covers the last five races daily.

A total of $1,113,614 was bet into the sixth race on Aug. 9 at Colonial Downs, which is the highest non-Virginia Derby single race pool in the history of the track and contributed to a meet-high daily handle of $4,158,874.

“We are delighted with the response thus far from fans from around the country who are enthusiastically wagering on our high-quality racing product, featuring horses from some of racing’s most familiar trainers and competition among top jockeys,” said Jill Byrne, Colonial Downs Vice President of Racing Operations. “Our Pick 5 has been wildly successful since we reduced takeout to 12% on the bet this year. We look forward to continued success for the second half of the meet resuming on August 15.”

Colonial has also been participating in the Monday Mid-Atlantic Pick 4 in conjunction with Monmouth Park. The 50-cent wager includes two races each from Colonial and Monmouth Park.

Colonial continues to be one of the nation’s most horsemen-friendly racetracks, proven by its innovative meet-long horsemen incentives branded as “Every Race, Every Day.” As a bonus, all owners are guaranteed $1,000 per start or their share of the purse money, and all trainers will receive $300 per start as recognition for loyal participation every race, every day. In recognition of horse welfare, Colonial Downs will contribute $15 from each starter in every race to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, which is matched by another $15 per horse contribution by the Virginia HBPA.

At the halfway point, jockey Jareth Loveberry and trainer Larry Rivelli – each competing at Colonial for the first time – lead their respective standings. Sarah and Reid Nagle’s Big Lick Farm is leading owner through the first five weeks of racing.

The second half of the meet gets off to a tremendous start with four MATCH Series stakes races headlining a solid Tuesday, Aug. 16, card while the $300,000 New Kent County Virginia Derby (G3) for 3-year-olds and the $200,000 Virginia Oaks for 3-year-fillies are both scheduled for Sept. 6.