Colonial Downs in Virginia Ready for a full season of racing

When the horses return to Colonial Downs in early July it will feel like a homecoming for Jill Byrne. The vice president of racing has always been around horses and held high-profile jobs in the racing world.

She describes the make-or-break 2021 season at Colonial Downs in New Kent that begins on July 19 as her biggest challenge in three decades in the industry.

Before she returned to Virginia to take a position at Colonial Downs two years ago, Byrne worked as a host and racing analyst for TVG, the director of Broadcast and Programing at Churchill Downs Racetrack in Kentucky, and the senior director of racing for the Breeder’s Cup.

Her arrival in New Kent coincided with a new era at Virginia’s only thoroughbred racecourse. Colonial Downs was shuttered for five years from 2014 following disputes between the owner and the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. Peninsula Pacific Entertainment bought the course and racing resumed in 2019

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