Racing horses has a long tradition in Virginia after colonists brought the first horses here in 1609. Horse racing took place during Colonial times when one-on-one matches were held down village streets, country lanes and across level pastures. According to many historians, the first American horse races were held in Henrico County, near Richmond, in 1674 and the first racetrack in Virginia was a one mile oval that operated in Williamsburg in 1739.
Fast forward to a new modern era where since 1997, Colonial Downs has been the epicenter of Virginia’s thoroughbred racing industry. After a shutdown in 2013, the track is ready to usher in a new era of racing that promises to be bigger and better than ever before. Located halfway between Richmond and Williamsburg in New Kent County, Colonial Downs is conveniently situated off I-64 at Exit 214. Between renovated facilities, pent up demand after a six year absence, and 600 Historical Horse Racing machines on site, enthusiasm is at an all time high.
Colonial’s two state-of-the-art racing surfaces are second to none. The Secretariat Turf Course is the widest grass racing surface in North America and has played host to champion horses over the last two decades in prestigious races like the New Kent County Virginia Derby. The dirt track is the country’s second largest and offers equine athletes a safe and sprawling oval to compete over. In 2019, Colonial Downs will offer 15 days of summer thoroughbred racing and attract hundreds of horses that will battle for $500,000 in purse monies daily.