Entries for Sunday’s “Virginia Downs” flat racing at Great Meadow came out yesterday, with six races set to go. The day marks the first of six days of parimutuel racing — two flat and four harness — planned for the fall in the Old Dominion.
The racing is conducted by the Virginia Equine Alliance, a coalition including the Virginia Thoroughbred Association, Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Virginia Gold Cup Association, and Virginia Harness Horse Association.
“We’re excited to host the inaugural ‘Virginia Downs Racing’ at such an established venue like Great Meadow,” said Debbie Easter, Executive Director of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association and President of the VEA. “For horsemen and fans alike that have attended past Gold Cup events, they will find this new event to be a bit more laid back and contained primarily to the ‘Members Hill’ along the finish line area. Fans should be quite pleased with the affordable tailgating prices.”
As is the case for Gold Cup events, tailgating will be front and center.
A limited supply of reserved railside vehicle passes will be sold on a first come first serve basis for $100 each (advance sale only) while general tailgating passes are available for advance and day purchase for only $30. Both options include vehicle access into the tailgating areas and admission for all passengers.
The day’s nonprofit partner is the Fauquier SPCA, which will retain all proceeds from ticket sales.
The day’s races include two first-level allowance races, one for three-year-olds and up and one for fillies and mares three and up, both at about 1 1/4 miles on the grass; and two maiden races, with the same age and sex breakdown as the allowance races and contested at about 1 1/8 miles on the turf.
There are also two races with somewhat less common conditions: a maiden starter allowance for Virginia-bred/Virginia-sired maidens three and up that have started for a claiming price of $15,000 or less; and an allowance for three and up that “have started over fences under rules.”
Horses will carry between 130 and 150 pounds, and the starts will be walk up starts via flag, rather than from a starting gate.
Three of the six races are oversubscribed and have horses on the also-eligible list.
The tailgating area opens at 12 noon, and post time for the first race is 2:00 p.m.