Colonial Downs barn area set to open

Signaling the beginning of the 2024 Thoroughbred season, Colonial Downs’s barn area will open on Monday, June 24, welcoming returning conditioners, as well as newcomers who are sure to impact the standings. Training is scheduled to begin on Thursday, June 27.

Multiple leading trainer Mike Stidham and Hall of Fame conditioner Mark Casse are among the trainers preparing their string for Colonial Downs 2024 Thoroughbred Season. Casse returns after a successful debut meet where he won 10 races, including Fev Rover’s score in the Grade 1 $500,000 Beverly D., a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

“It was our first meet and we loved it,” Casse said. “(Colonial Downs) has got one of the nicest turf courses in North America. When I came in for the Beverly D, I flew in with Tyler Gaffalione, Kendrick Carmouche, and Javier (Castellano), and they all commented that this is one of the nicest turf courses they have ridden.”

A celebrated mainstay of the summer season, Karen Dennehy Godsey plans to return to Colonial Downs, coming off the most successful meet in terms of earnings of the trainer’s 11-year career.

“Colonial offers races that no other track has, especially given the Virginia-bred and Virginia-certified program,” Godsey said. “It’s quality racing. The money is good, the racing is good, and the track is gorgeous. There is no other turf course like it. Most every horse in my barn is Virginia-bred or Virginia-certified, so those races they offer level the playing field.”

Newcomers expected to stable at Colonial in 2024 include Christophe Clement, Cherie DeVaux, Jordan Blair, and Keith Desormeaux.

“After looking at the condition book, I saw they have a lot of 2-year-old races, they have a lot of 2-year-old route races, and they have plenty of turf racing,” Desormeaux said. “The surface is second to none –turf and dirt. The facility is very nice, the purses are substantial — there were many features that attracted me. Our goal does not change — we’re developing horses to run at the highest level. It’s going to be a great place to develop these young horses.”

Exiting the most successful season in the history of the racetrack, in terms of record number of races, race days, visitors, horses in competition, live bets and off-track bets, Colonial Downs’ 2024 stakes program consists of 27 races worth $5.7 million. The season will feature daily average purses of nearly $700,000.

The 27-day meet runs from Thursday, July 11 through Saturday, September 7.