Colonial’s full fields are a welcome return to the 2011 season. (Photo-Nick Hahn)

Opening week at Colonial Downs may have had steeplechase racing, a downpour, Zooperstars and 25 cent hot dogs, but the real feature was the 9.92 average field size through Colonial’s first 37 races.  A daily average of 1635 patrons witnessed those fields after tripping the turnstyles through the first four day week in this summer’s modified schedule.  Total wagering on racing held at Colonial Downs was $3,045,529 producing a daily average of $761,382.  Fold in wagering off-track wagering from the grandstand on races such as the Belmont Stakes and total wagering was $3,217,741 or just over $804,435 daily. 

But the warm reception to the return of live racing in Virginia was the large field sizes.  If not for a Saturday evening downpour that started minutes before the simulcast of the running of the Belmont Stakes, the average field size would have undoubtedly exceeded well over 10.  Electronic bulletin boards across the country are praising the racing benefit.

“Colonial is a great signal and a handicappers dream. Tons of money to be made especially with the .10 Superfecta,” posts one handicapper. 

Sheldon Russell, one of Colonial’s perennial leading riders, is tied with novice, apprentice rider Sarah Rook with five wins through the first four cards of racing.  Trainer Michael Pino and Dane Kobiskie lead the trainer standings with three wins each.  All of Pino’s wins were on the turf while all of Kobiskie’s wins were on the dirt.