New Study: Virginia Equine Industry Program Has Generated $86.2 Million in Economic Impact

Benefits of Virginia-Certified Residency Program to be on Display at Upcoming Colonial Downs Summer Meet

A newly released study commissioned by the Virginia Equine Alliance demonstrates the significant impact of the Virginia-Certified Residency Program for thoroughbreds on Virginia’s economy.

According to the study, the program has generated an estimated economic impact of $86.2 million between 2017 – 2023. 

The program requires out-of-state thoroughbred horses to reside at least six consecutive months (prior to turning three years old) at a Virginia farm to receive a certification as a Virginia-certified thoroughbred horse. Upon completion of their residency, those horses then qualify to receive bonuses in eligible races.

“This is a significant total, especially taking into consideration that the program is still relatively new,” said Debbie Easter, President of the Virginia Equine Alliance. “The program didn’t begin until 2017, yet already is demonstrating its value.” 

Hundreds of Virginia horse farms participate in the program, receiving income from horse owners and breeders from outside of the state. 

More than 5,000 horses have participated in the Virginia-Certified Residency program since its inception. 

The large pool of Certified horses to draw from is now evident in the 2024 Colonial Downs Condition Book. Six Virginia-Restricted stakes with combined purse money of $750,000 will be offered during the summer meet in New Kent which begins July 11. The Hickory Tree and Keswick Stakes — two-year-old dirt sprints — will be held August 3 while a four-pack of Handicap events for older horses will be contested on Commonwealth Stakes Day, August 31. The Meadow Stable, Camptown, Bert Allen and Nellie Mae Cox each have a purse of $150,000. 

A total of 40 Virginia-restricted overnight races will also be offered in the first Condition Book which covers the first 16 days of a 27-day meet. Fourteen maiden special weight races, with a purse of $75,000 each, are listed along with a variety of others including six allowance races. 

Highlights of the new study include: From 2017-2023:

*The direct spending of the program was estimated at $54.5 million for the seven years from 2017 to 2023. These spending activities generated ripple (indirect plus induced) effects yielding a total economic impact of $86.2 million. 

*The program generated an estimated $1.8 million in tax revenue for the state government.

*The cumulative economic impact is 5.9 times larger than the total incentive payout, representing a strong return on investment in the program. 

The Virginia-Certified Residency Program for thoroughbreds is just one component of Virginia’s thriving horse breeding and racing industry. 

For more information on the Virginia Certified program and bonus incentives visit

The study was commissioned by the Virginia Equine Alliance, the industry’s organizational body that promotes the horse racing and breeding industry throughout the state. Chmura Economics and Analytics (Chmura), a research consulting firm in Richmond, Virginia, conducted the study. 


About Virginia Equine Alliance

The Virginia Equine Alliance is the state sanctioned organization representing horse racing throughout the state. The Alliance is a non-profit, 501(c)6 organization comprised of the Virginia Harness Horse Association, Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, Virginia Gold Cup Association and Virginia Thoroughbred Association. Virginia Equine Alliance’s primary mission is to sustain, promote an expand the horse breeding and horse racing industry in the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

About Chmura Economics and Analytics

Chmura Economics and Analytics is a consultation business providing labor market software, consulting, and data, so you can make informed decisions that grow your community. Chmura’s staff consist of PhD economists, data scientists, and strategic planners who are able to guide client’s local labor market.