(NEW KENT, VA) — The Virginia Racing Commission awarded 2013 racing dates to Colonial Downs yesterday (Nov. 7) at its monthly meeting.
The New Kent track will host a 25 day summer thoroughbred season that will run from June 8th thru July 13th and a 24 day harness meet that will run from September 18th thru October 27th.
The thoroughbred campaign represents a seven day decrease from 2012 but that is part of an overall strategy to improve the caliber of overnight races and increase the field size. The average overnight purse is expected to increase 43%, from $15,000 in 2012 to just under $22,000 in 2013. The track will also re-implement an equine shuttle on race days, which will transport horses from Maryland to New Kent. The shuttle can accommodate between 12 and 14 horses which should aid in the field size initiative.
The track’s two major stakes, the Colonial Turf Cup and Virginia Derby (Gr. II), will also have their purses reduced to help boost the level for overnight races. The Turf Cup, open to horses three and up, will drop to $300,000 from $500,000 while the 16th running of the Virginia Derby in July will have a $500,000 purse as opposed to $600,000, the level it was at this past summer.
The summer season will kick off on Belmont Day and run pretty much on a Wednesday thru Sunday basis. Post time will be 6 PM except on Sundays, when a matinee card will begin at 12:55 PM. Racing on Fridays will commence on June 21st during the second full week of action. The track’s annual racing and fireworks extravaganza will be held on Thursday July 4th.
Days and times of the fall harness meet will remain unchanged for 2013. Racing will take place on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 1 PM. Dates for the New Kent County Fair and the “Day of Champions”, the fall season’s two major events, have yet to be determined.