(Colonial Downs Photo)

Colonial Downs’ “Field of Dreams” – its Secretariat Turf Course – was illuminated for the first time ever last Monday evening as a test of the track’s lighting relocation project took place.

Over the past several months, most of the light standards were moved from outside of the dirt track to inside of the turf course, to illuminate the grass surface instead of the dirt.

As a result of the switch, Colonial will race at 7 PM (EDT) on Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays from June 2 thru July 28, and at 12:55 PM (EDT) on Sundays. 

The lone exception is opening day, Saturday June 2nd, when Colonial will host and operate the 80th running of the Strawberry Hill races starting at 12:55 PM. That event is a combined steeplechase/flat program featuring twelve pari-mutuel races and tailgating in many spots around the outside perimeter areas.

Both of the track’s marquee races — the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup and the $600,000 Virginia Derby (Gr. II) — will be contested under the lights. 

Over 80% of Colonial’s races have taken place on grass over its fifteen year history, but without lights on the turf course, the track has been forced to run its annual summer thoroughbred meet during daylight hours. 

Two of the track’s major obstacles, afternoon heat and daytime beach traffic issues on I-64, should not be factors any more with the later start time.

The $700,000 project finished several weeks ahead of schedule thanks to the unusually mild winter in Virginia.