Monthly Archives: May 2022

Former VTA Executive Director Glenn Petty Passes Away

We are very saddened to report that former VTA Executive Director, Glenn Petty, passed away on May 11. Mr. Petty served three separate terms as Executive Director of the VTA. He was instrumental in getting pari-mutuel legislation passed in the 1990’s and was involved in promoting many other racing & breeding initiatives. His obituary that appeared follows.

Glenn Douglas Petty, 65, of Warrenton, passed away May 11, 2022, at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, after complications of the treatment of lymphoma.

A service and celebration of his life will be held at Saint James’ Episcopal Church, where he was a member, at 73 Culpeper Street, Warrenton, on Friday, May 20, at 2 p.m., with The Rev. Benjamin Maas officiating.

Glenn was born in Patagonia, Arizona, to Col. Floyd Ernest Petty and Mary Ann Petty. His father’s career in the U.S. Army had Glenn’s early years spent in Arizona, Germany, New Jersey and Fairfax, Virginia. The family settled in Markham, in 1966, on Gibraltar Farm. Glenn joined his older sister Gail in horseback riding and show jumping, guided by his mother’s involvement in the sport. For Glenn, it led to a lifelong love of the horse industry.

He graduated from Fauquier High School in 1975 and from James Madison University in 1980 with a degree in journalism. After serving as horse sports editor of the Fauquier Times Democrat, Glenn continued to follow his passion serving many impactful roles in the Virginia thoroughbred industry. In his decades long career, he spearheaded the Virginia Thoroughbred Association with three separate terms as Executive Director, playing an integral role in the industry’s efforts to bring parimutuel wagering to the Commonwealth and the formation of the Virginia Breeders Fund.

He also served as a senior advisor to the Maryland Jockey Club during the development and opening years of Colonial Downs Racetrack in New Kent, Virginia. Prior to his work at the VTA, Glenn played a key role at EMO Insurance with Ernie Oare, serving as Operations Director where he was instrumental in the formation of racing, breeding and pinhooking partnerships and the formation and operation of EMO horse and farm insurance. He also worked in partnership with Tyson Gilpin for many years at the Stallion Service Bureau as a bloodstock advisor. In addition to these roles, Glenn served as Interim Executive Director of the Virginia Horse Center, a job he dearly loved, and served as a member, and later chair, of the Virginia Horse Industry Board, appointed by former Governor Mark Warner. Though a 2014 diagnosis of CNS lymphoma impacted his work in the equine industry, he was a horseracing fan throughout his life. Along with his wife and children, Glenn watched Rich Strike win the Kentucky Derby in his hospital room, where his enthusiasm showed despite how poorly he felt.

Glenn’s biggest love was his family, and fatherhood was his greatest joy. He delighted in all the love his children brought into his life, and they will greatly miss him. Glenn cheered them on through youth football, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, and riding lessons, and later in high school games, plays, art shows and more. He made great salsa and homemade pizza, planned fun family vacations, and was a wonderful example of a caring and encouraging father.

Glenn’s life was rich with friendships, which he valued tremendously. He loved to fish, golf and ski – especially with friends on golf trips to Pinehurst, ski trips to Park City and Seven Springs, and fishing on the Shenandoah River or any convenient river or ocean. After playing basketball and football in high school, he continued with rec volleyball and basketball for several years. Glenn was a huge supporter of the Washington Commanders, the Washington Nationals, the JMU Dukes, and the UNC Tarheels (he liked to say he married into a nest of Tarheels). Glenn also loved to listen to Tony Kornheiser’s podcast, and he would fully endorse Dan Snyder selling the team. A writer at heart, he entertained friends and family for years with his Today’s ACC Headlines blog, which specialized in misspelling the name of a coach whose name begins with the letter “K” (and shall not be written here). He saw lots of live music over the years and loved Jimmy Buffett, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, and Jerry Jeff Walker, to name a few. Glenn found his time on a mission trip to Haiti very meaningful, and he was an active member of the Warrenton Rotary Club for several years, along with other local charitable efforts.

Survivors include his wife, Amy Thomas Petty; his daughter, Anna Galina Petty; his son, William “Toly” Petty; his brother, Joel Petty and his wife Yana, nephews David and Pasha, and niece Donna. Glenn is also survived by Amy’s parents, Dr. and Mrs. Robert Thomas, of Ramseur, North Carolina, who loved him like a son. He was predeceased by his parents and much-loved sister Gail Petty Williams.

Glenn’s family thanks staff at UVA Medical Center for care over the past eight years, especially Dr. David Schiff, Dr. Guillermo Solorzano and Amanda Lane. They also thank the many family, friends and neighbors who have shown love through countless visits and acts of kindness.

In lieu of flowers, those choosing to donate in his memory can do so to Saint James’ Episcopal Church, Fauquier County SPCA, or a therapeutic riding or thoroughbred retirement nonprofit in your area.

Scenes From the Virginia Breeder’s Awards Night at Great Meadow


The 2022 Virginia Thoroughbred Association Championship Awards Ceremony kicked off Virginia Gold Cup weekend at Great Meadow in The Plains on May 6th, first time the awards have been held at the trackside Turf Club chalet since 2019. A rainy and cool evening could not damper the celebration which was welcomed by all. The 2020 edition was cancelled due to Covid and 2021’s was held at Colonial Downs, with award winners being recognized between races.

The weather turned colder and the rain intensified even more on Gold Cup Saturday, but thousands came out anyways to tailgate in the adverse cold weather and create new memories.

David & Dana Ross (middle), whose Extravagant Kid was named 2021 Virginia-Owned Champion, display the Grade 1 Al Quoz Sprint Stakes trophy from their big win in Dubai last year.
VTA Executive Director Debbie Easter is flanked by VTA Past President Jill Gordon-Moore (left) and current VTA President Susan Cooney (right).
Wayne & Susie Chatfield-Taylor of Morgan’s Ford Farm accept awards for 2021 Horse of the Year (Chess Chief) and 2021 Breeder of the Year.
Street Lute’s connections, including trainer John Robb, accept an award for 2021 Virginia-Certified Filly Champion.
Members of Audley Farm Equine accept honors for Urban Fairytale who was named 2021 Virginia-Bred Champion Mare.
 2021 Virginia-Bred Over Fences Champion honors went to Vincent Van Gogo. Pictured is owner Adam Newman, breeder Katie Fitzgerald and trainer Neil Morris.  
 Phyllis Jones, owner of Smallwood Farm in Crozet, accepts an award for 2021 Virginia-Sired Champion Mr. Buff, who was bred to her stallion Friend or Foe. 
John Robb, Nancy Rizer and Eric Rizer receive an award from Debbie Easter for Sparkle Sprinkle, 2021 Virginia-Bred 2-Year-Old Filly Champion. 
Betsy Cromwell & Amy Sales of Easter Associates greeted award recipients and guests.
The drizzly Gold Cup setting Friday, and the weather turned colder with more rain on race day.
Morgan’s Ford Farm (Wayne & Susie Chatfield Taylor and family members) accepts hardware for winning the 2021 Virginia-Bred 2-Year-Old Colt Champion with Oviatt Class, and others.
On Gold Cup Day, over 300 guests attended the trackside chalet for food, beverages, wagering and great horse tracing action.

2022 Colonial Downs Race Meet Opens July 11 with More Than $600,000 in Daily Average Purses


Condition Books Now Available with Major Horsemen Incentives and Bonus Money Offered over Expanded 9-Week Meeting 

NEW KENT, Va. (May 12, 2022) — With its much-anticipated return just under eight weeks away, the Colonial Downs Racing presented by Woodford Reserve ─ “More Racing, More Money and More Fun” ─ 2022 season promises to be the biggest horsemen-incentive meeting in the New Kent, Va. track’s history.

Now in its fourth year under the management of the Colonial Downs Group and ownership of Peninsula Pacific Entertainment ─ and as further proof of Colonial’s progress in the Middle Atlantic region ─ Colonial Downs will offer a record of more than $600,000 in daily average purses, punctuated by an expanded stakes schedule and increased purse monies in open races, and for Virginia-bred, sired, and certified horses.

As an additional benefit to horsemen, maiden special weight (MSW) races during the meeting will carry a $60,000 purse.

The $300,000 Virginia Derby (G3) for 3-year-olds and the $200,000 Virginia Oaks for 3-yearfillies, both on Sept. 6, once again highlight the stakes calendar. 

This year’s meeting has been expanded by six racing days beginning July 11 and continuing through Sept. 7 with racing every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Daily first post time is 1:45 p.m. ET. 

All Colonial Downs races will be televised on TVG. 

The Colonial Downs barn area opens on Monday, June 27 and condition and stakes book, stall applications and all horsemen information are available at Stall applications have been received thus far from more than 60 trainers for the 2022 meeting.

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, once again, all owners will be 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 an ultra-competitive racing environment, we look forward to another season with bigger purses and greater incentives for our horsemen and industry stakeholders towards increased participation in the 2022 season,” said Jill Byrne, Colonial Downs Vice President of Racing Operations. “Our team is excited to present a wide-ranging program of racing opportunities on our outstanding racing surfaces.”

The formidable purse and bonus incentives contributed to a total of 725 horses stabled at Colonial last year. In all, total handle for the 21-days was $46,867,078, which generated a record average daily handle over $2.2M. 

Owing further to the popularity of Colonial Downs and its racing surfaces, the 2021 meeting generated a total of 1,713 starters for the 205 races, for an average of 8.36 runners per race. A total of 148 races were contested over Colonial’s signature Secretariat Turf Course ─ the widest grass racing surface in the country. 

Both of Colonial’s racing surfaces are highly regarded as among the safest in all of horse racing as evidenced by public release of Equine Injury Database data from The Jockey Club. A total of 1,325 horses competed over turf, an average of 8.85 starters per race; and 388 horses participated in 57 dirt races for an average of 6.81 per race.

“We are extremely proud of our past performances and the opportunity to build upon our enormous success positioning Colonial Downs as one of the nation’s elite boutique race meetings for horsemen and fans alike,” said John Marshall, Colonial Downs Group Executive Vice President, Operations. “The Virginia Equine Alliance and the Virginia HPBA also have provided the commitment and support for our cause to revitalize racing in Virginia and continue its growth and prosperity.”

In addition to those based in Virginia, Colonial looks forward to new and returning horsemen participating in the 2022 meeting from Kentucky, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Maryland, Delaware, Illinois, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, among other states. 

Trainers expected to return for the 2022 meet include Graham Motion, winner of both the 2019 and 2021 editions of the Virginia Derby (G3), leading money-earner Michael Trombetta, Dallas Stewart, John Ortiz, Mike Tomlinson, Mike Stidham, Hamilton Smith, and Michelle Lovell. Last year, Smith bested Lovell 10-9 for the overall meet trainer’s title. 

Colonial looks forward to welcoming several Chicago-based trainers including nine-time Arlington Park leading trainer Larry Rivelli, Chris Bock, Tony Mitchell, Joel Campbell, and Mike Campbell.

Leading the local contingent will be Sarah Nagle, whose Big Luck Farm won two Virginia-restricted stakes races last year as a part of the advantageous Virginia-restricted, Virginia-bred, and Virginia-certified program; Karen Godsey of Eagle Point Farm and Susan Cooney.

Highlighting regional competition, the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series is back, featuring four open stakes races with combined purses of $600,000 on Aug. 16.

The 2022 meeting will be conducted under the strictest safety and security protocols. These practices played a significant role resulting in zero racing-related fatalities in 2021, placing Colonial Downs among the country’s best on The Jockey Club’s Equine Industry Database (EID).
Colonial Downs and the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (VHBPA) continue to support the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. Since 2019, the two organizations have combined to contribute more than $100,000 for the care of retired racehorses.

“We couldn’t ask for a better partner than Colonial’s racing team and our horsemen can’t wait to break from the gate on July 11th,” said VHBPA Executive Director Frank Petramalo.

New Bristol, Virginia Horse Owner Picked ’22 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer As His Conditioner


Meet Jeff Sanders, a schoolteacher in Bristol, Virginia who bought his first thoroughbred race horse at the Keeneland Yearling Sale in 2019 for $2,000 after teaching himself about the racing business for several years.

He brought his newly purchased mare, Eowyn, to Bristol where he soon realized he needed an actual trainer to find success on the track. After looking through a list of conditioners via the Jockey Club website, he reached out to Eric Reed, who just happened to saddle 81-1 Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike on Saturday!

Jeff immediately liked Eric, who he said is very down to earth. In 10 starts over 1 1/2, years, Eowyn collected 3 wins and a pair or seconds and thirds. With hopes of becoming a trainer one day, Jeff has visited Reed several times and shadowed him to gain experience. His most recent visit came two months before Rich Strike competed in Turfway Park’s Derby prep —- the Jeff Ruby Steaks Stakes where he ended up taking third.

“Eric was talking about him then and thought he had a nice prospect. I’ve followed the horse since and was thrilled with the Derby win but think he may be even better suited for the Belmont with the extra distance.”

Jeff admitted he won several hundred dollars by betting Rich Strike to win, place and show Saturday but wish he would have included him in some exactas and trifectas. With a pair of 2020 Virginia-Certified fillies he owns based at his 12-acre farm, an obvious question arises —- will Jeff be reaching out to Reed to train the two beginning next year? “Hopefully, if I can still afford him!”

Scenes from the 97th Running of the Virginia Gold Cup


The 97th running of the Virginia Gold Cup races took place May 7th at Great Meadow in The Plains with a card of six steeplechase races and one flat race. Featured event was the $100,000 Virginia Gold Cup, won by 2019 champion Andi’Amu — a 12-year-old gelding making his 41st career start. The finish, after four miles of competition, brought loud cheers from tailgating fans trackside.

Both spectators and wagering returned, though Mother Nature chose not to cooperate. Rain, unseasonably cool temperatures and a breeze made the afternoon feel more like a late fall football tailgating session instead of an expected pleasant May outing. Athletes — both human and equine — and thousands of fans made the best of it and had memorable an enjoyable day.

Here are some Gold Cup scenes to capture the spirit of the day:

The stewards stand, located at the finish line, is filled with officials and horsemen.
Two appropriately dressed young fans enjoy the action railside.
The betting tent on Members Hill saw lots of wagering activity.
Bodes Well begins his jump in the Steeplethon.
Steeplethon winner Bodes Well navigates a water hazard during the 3 miles race (Douglas Lees photo).
Despite the rain, fancy hats were aplenty.
Early morning on Gold Cup Day before fans arrived.
Rider Thomas Garner and trainer Leslie Young celebrate with winner Redicean in the David Semmes Memorial Stakes.
Media members prepare to take pictures of the next race out on the wet course. Wonder if photographer #21 knew his number was going to win the Kentucky Derby at odds of 81-1??!!
Howyabud gets his picture taken for winning the $40,000 allowance hurdle with Parker Hendriks up.
A bugler ushered horses on to the track with the “Call to Post” each race.
Rider Parker Hendriks won three races on Saturday’s card (Douglas Lees photo).
A muddy scene as rain continued throughout the entire afternoon.
The VEA, VHBPA & VTA $50,000 flat stakes closed out the day’s festivities. SA’Ad (far right) won the finale (Douglas Lees photo)
A little damp weather did not stop thousands of fans from enjoying the God Cup event.
Flying over timber in the 4-mile Gold Cup with Storm team in front and eventual winner Andi’Amu (#1) in second (Douglas Lees photo).