Colonial Downs to expand stakes program
Colonial Downs Racing presented by Woodford Reserve, which kicks off its 27-day “More Racing, More Money and More Fun” Thoroughbred racing season July 11, unveiled a $3.5 million stakes schedule highlighted by the 19th running of the Grade 3 Virginia Derby.
In all, 24 stakes will be contested over the 9-week campaign, 20 of which are scheduled for the Secretariat Turf Course, the widest grass racing surface in the country. Purses for the 2022 stakes program will increase by $850,000 over 2021 totaling over $3.5 million in stakes dollars up for grabs. Racing will take place every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 1:30 PM (EDT) through September 7.
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Daily average purse monies will rise to $600,000 for the summer from $522,000 in 2021. Maiden special weight races will carry a $60,000 purse. The highly successful 2021 meet awarded a total of $10.4 million in purse monies and average field size was a healthy 8.36 starters per race.
“With increased purses, an expanded stakes schedule and more race days, we are looking forward to hosting horsemen and women, players and patrons from across the country again this season,” said Jill Byrne, Vice President Racing Operations. “Colonial Downs offers a fantastic facility for horses and staff and two of the best surfaces known for safety and sound returns to the barn.”
The $300,000 G3 Virginia Derby headlines a showcase day on Tuesday September 6 which also includes four undercard turf stakes. The Commonwealth’s richest annual race is open to 3-year-olds at 1-1/8 miles on grass. Purse for $200,000 Virginia Oaks increases by $50,000 over last year while the Da Hoss purse also rises by $50,000 to $150,000. The two remaining undercard events, the Rosie’s and Kitten’s Joy, each enjoy a $25,000 bump to $125,000.
The Mid Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series returns for a second straight year August 16 with a quartet of stakes worth a combined $600,000. A pair of dirt sprints, the Chesapeake and Seeking The Pearl, complement a pair of longer turf stakes, the Buckland and Old Nelson. Each will carry a $150,000 purse.
Opening and closing day programs at the expanded meet will feature a healthy slate of $125,000 stakes with Virginia tie-ins. The July 11 kickoff card includes four Virginia-bred/sired turf events. The Punch Line and Camptown are both 5½-furlong sprints, the latter for fillies & mares, while the Edward P. Evans and Brookmeade are at 1-1/16 miles, the latter again for females.
A four-pack of $150,000 Virginia-restricted stakes will help close out the meet on September 7. Open to Virginia-bred, -sired and -certified horses, offerings include the Meadow Stable, Tyson Gilpin, Bert Allen and Nellie Mae Cox Stakes. The $125,000 Jamestown Stakes for Virginia-bred/sired 2-year-olds is also on the season’s final program.
New to the lineup this year is the Colonial Cup Stakes for 3-year-olds & up, which will be contested over 1½ miles on the turf July 25.
Colonial’s meet-long steeplechase program will be highlighted by the $100,000 Randolph Rouse Stakes at 2 miles on August 22.
The stable area opens June 27 and horsemen will see continued backstretch improvements including free washing machines at each of the 14 barns, plus large tents, picnic tables and grills at each of the dorm building locations.
“Our horsemen are chomping at the bit for more summer racing with great purses at Colonial,” said Frank Petramalo, Virginia HBPA Executive Director. “To help horsemen get good stable help, the VHBPA is sponsoring formal training programs for hot walkers and grooms. The VHBPA will also offer its usual benevolence programs, including medical/dental benefits, recreational programs, and our chaplaincy.”