By Dave Fairbank/Daily Press

More than 7,600 people who hadn’t heard that thoroughbred racing is in trouble showed up Saturday at Colonial Downs, which speaks to, well, we aren’t sure exactly what it speaks to.

Optimism. Good weather. Big party. Beach fatigue. The aroma of hay and horse flesh. Something.

Much of the optimism seemed to rest with track owner and gaming mogul Jeff Jacobs, who parachuted in and once again talked up the expansive brick palace along I-64 and the commonwealth’s biggest racing day.

“One way or the other, I’ve become more involved in horse racing,” said Jacobs, who is also Chairman of the Board of a company that owns tracks in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, in addition to his gaming ventures in Colorado, Nevada and Louisiana.

“Of all the tracks I own,” he said, “this is the only one I’ve come to this year, because I put in a lot of sweat and blood to get it to the point where it is now — 14, 15 years. So I have a lot of pride in the property.”

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