First horses arrive for Colonial Downs meet
Horse vans filled with some of the nation’s top Thoroughbreds rolled through the barn gates Monday morning in preparation for the 2022 Colonial Downs Racing presented by Woodford Reserve – “More Racing, More Money and More Fun,” meeting, which opens Monday, July 11.
Now in its fourth year under the management of the Colonial Downs Group and ownership of Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, Colonial Downs will offer a record of more than $600,000 in daily average purses for its 27-day meeting, highlighted by an expanded stakes schedule and increased purses in open races, and for Virginia-bred, sired, and certified horses.
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Racing will be conducted every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday through Sept. 7. Daily first post time is 1:45 p.m. ET.
Colonial Downs will have a full complement of 850 horses occupying 14 barns on its backstretch this year.
Among the first horses to arrive were those under the care of trainer Larry Rivelli, who has transferred his summer operation from the Midwest to Colonial Downs.
“I’ve never stabled at Colonial before and I’m excited to be racing there,” said nine-time Arlington Park leading trainer Larry Rivelli, whose stakes-winning 4-year-old Like a Saltshaker was the first horse to come off the van. “I hope we do well there and keep up the success we’ve had the last nine years in Chicago.”
Representing the start of the local contingent of Virginia-based trainers, horses trained by Doug Fout and Karen Godsey, also were amongst the first arrivals.
“It’s going to be a great meet,” Godsey said. “You’ve really got to run now and have the horsepower but luckily there is a great Virginia-restricted stakes and Virginia-bred program in place. The money they’re giving away is attracting the elite horses and horsemen out there.”
Trainers for the 2022 meet also include Graham Motion, winner of both the 2019 and 2021 editions of the Virginia Derby (G3), leading money-earner Michael Trombetta, Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen, Dallas Stewart, Mike Tomlinson, Carlos Munoz, Mike Stidham, Hamilton Smith, and Michelle Lovell. Last year, Smith bested Lovell 10-9 for the overall meet trainer’s title.
“It’s going to be a great meet,” Godsey said. “You’ve really got to run now and have the horsepower but luckily there is a great Virginia-restricted stakes and Virginia-bred program in place as well. The money they’re giving away is attracting the elite horses and horsemen out there.”
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the excitement and enthusiasm shown by our dedicated horsemen and women eager to get started for what promises to be another successful race meet,” said Jill Byrne, Colonial Downs Vice President of Racing Operations. “Trainers around the country are arriving to take advantage of our high daily average purses, two state of the art racing surfaces, and a horse friendly beautiful stable area.”
Colonial continues to be one of the nation’s most horsemen-friendly racetracks, proven by its innovative meet-long horsemen incentives branded as “Every Race, Every Day.” As a bonus, once again, all owners will be guaranteed $1,000 per start or their share of the purse money, and all trainers will receive $300 per start as recognition for loyal participation every race, every day.
As an additional benefit to horsemen, maiden special weight (MSW) races during the meeting will carry a $60,000 purse.
The $300,000 New Kent County Virginia Derby (G3) for 3-year-olds and the $200,000 Virginia Oaks for 3-year-fillies, both on Sept. 6, once again highlight the stakes calendar.