Colonial Downs Racetrack

Watch, Wager Horse Racing Action On Line; $1 Million Louisiana Derby Is Saturday

The Coronavirus has taken a toll on the number of racetracks currently operating, and the updated list of those running and those not running changes daily.

This week, the Kentucky Oaks was moved to Friday September 4 and the Kentucky Derby to Saturday September 5 from its traditional “First Saturday in May” slot. In Virginia, the Middleburg Spring Races were moved from April 18 to May 30, the Virginia Gold Cup races were rescheduled to June 20 from May 2, and the spring Point-to-Point season, which was scheduled every weekend in March and April, was cancelled.

With social distancing in effect for the foreseeable future, the opportunity to wager horse races on line has become more popular than ever. In Virginia, four partner companies offer this service — TVG.com, Xpressbet.com, Twinspires.com and NYRABets.com. Many tracks have cancelled racing the weekend of March 20-22, but just as many will be racing, which is great news to horseplayers.

Fair Grounds Racecourse has the premier card scheduled Saturday and it’s all systems go with 12 races on tap beginning at 12 Noon. The biggest of four graded stakes there is the $1 Million Louisiana Derby (Gr. 2), which is carded as the 12th race at 5:49 PM. A trio of Grade 2 events lead up to that — the $400,000 New Orleans Classic at 4:10 PM, the $300,000 Muniz Memorial Classic at 4:42 PM and the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks at 5:15 PM. They have four other stakes on the program as well.

Of interest to racing fans in the Commonwealth is Virginia-bred Chess Chief, who will be competing in the New Orleans Classic Stakes. The 4-year-old Into Mischief colt is 8-1 early and enters the stakes with a bankroll of $314,830. Bred by Morgan’s Ford Farm, the Dallas Stewart trainee was 2nd in last year’s West Virginia Derby, 3rd in the Oklahoma Derby and 5th in the Toyota Bluegrass Stakes.

Debbie Easter, President of the Virginia Equine Alliance, is part owner of 3-year-old filly Finite, who is an early 3-5 favorite in the Fair Grounds Oaks. Winner of five in a row, the daughter of Munnings most recently scored in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds in February. She has accumulated $270,000 in purse earnings this year and $638,349 overall.

Other tracks slated to compete Saturday include Gulfstream, Tampa Bay Downs, Santa Anita, Golden Gate, Oaklawn, Mahoning Valley, Sam Houston and Turfway Park among others.

NBC Sports will broadcast live racing Saturday from 4-8 PM. The last several at Fair Grounds will kick off coverage.

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