Archive for April, 2014

There is still a glowing ember hoping to ignite Virginia racing in 2014. As of April 2014, the Virginia horsemen’s group, not the Colonial Downs horsemen’s group, agreed to a 5 week meet like Colonial Downs hosted in 2013. The state told Colonial Downs that their para mutual wagering license was in jeopardy, if they didn’t agree to at least the same meet that was run last year. It’s simple, no racing, no license for Colonial Downs. Colonial Downs has not yet publically responded to this arrangement, but has until May 7th, at the next Virginia Racing commission meeting, to do so. Even though this deal brings us right back to where we started, it would be something for the horsemen that look forward to running their Virginia breds and turf horses. I’m not happy with it, especially since I retired my Va bred because of all this, but maybe he can make the last week of the meet. I also feel Colonial Downs still get’s their way. Maybe at least this was a hard lesson for Colonial Downs, which cost them well over a million dollars. The only thing that could save them is, if they agreed to the horsemen’s compromise and get up and running for wagering on the Kentucky Derby.

The impact of the standoff could reduce the quality of the meet as the purse structure could be as much as 30% lower, if not more. If reasonable prizes are not offered, then the field sizes could drop considerably as well. It is hard to speculate how much purse money the track has actually lost for the Virginia horsemen, while playing hard ball, but we will soon find out if Colonial Downs agrees to what’s now on the table. If they don’t agree to this, then it’s very possible Virginia racing will be gone in the state for a while. There are also talks about having a Virginia meet in Maryland. It obviously won’t be the same as far as turf goes, but at least Virginia breds will have an opportunity to run for breeder’s and owner bonuses. At this point, the Virginia horsemen have not lost nearly as much as Colonial Downs. In all actuality Virginia horsemen have not lost anything at this point, since they would be running their horses in neighboring states at this time of year anyway. For all the people who love horses and the sights and the sounds of the race track, we can only hope racing can get back the way it was in Old Virginny when the whole summer was dedicated to the sport of kings. The ball is in your court, Colonial Downs. The horsemen gave in to your original offer, what are you going to do?


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Letter To VA HBPA President David Ross from Ian Stewart, President at Colonial Downs.

Colonial Downs Desperate and Dying a Slow Death! Latest News. 4-8-14


What’s really going on,

Colonial Downs president, Ian Stewart, released a letter to David Ross, president of the Virginia HBPA, regarding the ongoing contract dispute between Virginia horsemen and Colonial Downs race track in New Kent County, Virginia. Colonial Downs is offering the fewest possible days to run live racing in Virginia, in order to keep their pari-mutuel wagering license.

None of the proposals in this letter will promote Virginia racing and breeding. Racing is going backwards in Virginia and will continue as long as Colonial Downs continues to operate in this manner. Colonial Downs is trying to form (buy) their own horsemen’s group that will agree to their offer, to host only 6 days of live horse racing in Virginia, while they continue to operate their profitable off track wagering facilities for the other 359 days a year.

This dirty tactic by Colonial Downs will most likely fail and create even more tension between the Virginia horsemen and Colonial Downs. Virginia horsemen would like a long enough race meet where they can have multiple opportunities to race their horses, if at all. This would be almost impossible in a 6 days race meet. Attempting to attract “quality” horses is dream, not a reality. All Colonial Downs will get is cheap horses that run for larger purses. There are simply not enough horses to fill race races at the higher levels. Where does Colonial Downs think these horses will come from? Colonial Downs feels for some reason that offering larger purses will make Colonial Downs a big player in the thoroughbred racing industry. Realistically Virginia racing will not thrive to the level of the major racing venues, unless casino gaming is offered. The letter ends with Colonial Downs claiming that a group of Virginia horsemen are willing to work with Colonial Downs to resolve the current dispute in favor of the boutique race meet. This is only partially true and the horsemen that may be joining this new group are not active owners and trainers in Virginia. If there is a group at all, it’s very small and insignificant.

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