(NEW KENT, VA — 1/11/12) — Colonial Downs announced its 2012 stakes lineup today and it is highlighted by the 15th running of the $600,000 Virginia Derby (Gr. II).
A total of $2,050,000 in purse monies will be up for grabs from 18 stakes races. Last summer, Director of Racing Tyler Picklesimer bundled many of the stakes into three high profile days, and that concept will remain in tact again for the eight week 2012 summer campaign.
The first "bundle" will feature the 8th running of the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup on Saturday June 16th along with a trio of under card stakes. The Turf Cup, which made its debut in 2005 exclusively for three year olds, earned Grade II status in 2009. Last year, Colonial Downs tweaked the conditions and made the stakes open to three year olds and up in an effort to attract past champions and as a result, it lost its graded status.
The Turf Cup under card includes the $100,000 Edward P. Evans All Along Stakes (Gr. III), the $50,000 Da Hoss Stakes and the $30,000 Old Nelson Starter Handicap.
The Virginia Derby card will again be held the third Saturday in July, the 21st, and will feature a four pack of under card races. The $150,000 Virginia Oaks (Gr. III) headlines the complementary slate, which also includes a trio of $50,000 stakes — the Kittens Joy, Chenery and Tippett. The later duo is for two year old colts and fillies respectively.
The third and final race bundle is a grouping of five $50,000 Virginia-bred stakes on Friday July 27. Coined the $250,000 Commonwealth Turf Festival, all five will be contested over the Secretariat Turf Course. The stakes quintet — the Oakley, Daniel Van Clief, Bert Allen, Brookemeade and Jamestown — had previously been run on separate days until last year.
Rounding out the stakes slate is a Grade III jump event on opening day, a pair on the July 4th holiday card, and one on Ladies Night. The $50,000 David L. Zeke Ferguson Memorial Steeplechase Stakes will highlight the June 2nd opener, while the $50,000 Chesapeake and Punch Line share co-bill on fireworks night and the $50,000 Buckland Stakes for fillies and mares goes to post on June 23rd.
Colonial Downs will have lights on the Turf Course for the first time ever this summer and as a result, will race Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 PM (EDT) and at 12:55 PM on Sundays. Both the Turf Cup and Virginia Derby programs will begin an hour early at 6 PM and both marquee stakes will be run under the lights for the first time ever, at approximately 9:00 PM.
"I am really looking forward to the 2012 meet," said Director of Racing Tyler Picklesimer. "Every year, our graded stakes get a little more competitive and our signature days improve. Strong stakes cards combined with the addition of turf lights should help make Colonial Downs one of the premier evening signals in summer racing."
Click here to see the 2012 Colonial Downs Summer Stakes Schedule.