Colonial Downs Stakes Schedule Includes Stakes, Handicap Races For Virginia-Bred, Sired & Certified Horses

Dates for the second annual thoroughbred racing season under ownership of the Colonial Downs Group are set for 2020. An 18 day campaign set over a six week period will run every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from July 23 – August 29. Post time has been moved back 30 minutes from last year, to 5:30 PM (EDT). An average of $500,000 in purse monies will be distributed daily.

Virginia Derby Day will again highlight the 2020 stakes schedule. The 18th running of the $250,000 Grade 3 turf stakes for three-year-olds will close out the meet on Saturday August 29. A trio of under card stakes will all return — the $150,000 Virginia Oaks (3 YO fillies), $100,000 Rosie’s Stakes (2 YO, 5.5F) and $100,000 Kitten’s Joy Stakes (2 YO, 1 1/16th miles). 2019 Rosie’s winner Four Wheel Drive went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, Derby winner English Bee prevailed in the Parx Fall Derby, and Kitten’s Joy winner Doc Boy won the Columbia Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs March 7.

Colonial Downs VP of Racing Jill Byrne at a morning workout last summer.

Colonial Downs has been added to the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series lineup this summer in an event that will create another high impact day. Seven participating tracks in the series will take turns hosting a slate of five stakes monthly between April and October. The five pack of $100,000 stakes at Colonial, scheduled for August 15, includes the Victory Gallop, Chesapeake and Seeking The Pearl — which will all be on dirt — and the Da Hoss and Old Nelson which will be on grass. In all, 35 MATCH Series stakes will be held in 2020 with $3.75 million in purses on the line.

River Deep won the 2019 Edward P. Evans Stakes at Colonial Downs. Photo by Coady Photography.

Virginia-bred/sired horses will once again be showcased on two separate evening programs — opening night (July 23) and on the Friday of closing weekend (August 28). A four pack of $100,000 stakes will be run at each event. The Camptown, Nellie Mae Cox, Meadow Stable and Edward P. Evans Stakes will populate the season opener’s schedule and the Tyson Gilpin, Brookmeade, Bert Allen and Punch Line Stakes will help kick off Virginia Derby weekend.

The $100,000 Jamestown Stakes, a 5.5 furlong turf sprint for Virginia-bred/sired two-year-old colts and fillies, will complete the nine event state-bred slate on August 1.

In addition to stakes competitors, graduates of the VTA’s Certified Residency program will have additional money earning opportunities at New Kent this summer. In the program format, any horse that was conceived and foaled outside of Virginia and spent a minimum six month stay at a Virginia-Certified farm or training center before December 31 of its two-year-old year currently receives an extra 25% bonus when it wins a race in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Colonial Downs’ 2020 summer season will begin July 23.

Come mid-July, the number of Certified horses racing will be near 1,700. In an effort to help lure some of those graduates back to the State where they spent time being raised, VTA Executive Director Debbie Easter, HBPA Executive Director Frank Petramalo, Colonial VP of Racing Jill Byrne and Racing Secretary Allison De Luca recently introduced a slate of twelve restricted handicap races.

The restricted races are open to Virginia-Bred, Sired and Certified horses and will be held on both dirt and turf. When nominations are received, the Racing Secretary will handicap the entrants and assign weights. Restricted races go with seven horses versus Virginia-Bred/Sired ones which go with six.

“We wrote these races with the Certified horse owners in mind,” said Easter. “Since so many horses spent at least six months at our Virginia farms and training centers and have become eligible for the Residency bonus, it only made sense to offer these opportunities at Virginia’s only pari-mutuel thoroughbred track.”

Six different $60,000 Restricted Handicaps will be carded on the weekend of July 24-25: The Miss Oceana, William M. Backer, Quarter Path Road, Van Clief, Hansel and White Oak Farm Handicaps. Four more, with a purse of $75,000 each, will be run the weekend of August 20-22: The Andy Guest, Newstead, Bailes and Rokeby Handicaps. Another pair at $75,000 will be included on closing weekend: The Hickory Tree and Keswick Stables Handicaps.