The Best Colonial Downs Meet Ever Set to Open July 19th

21-Day Meeting Features 25 Stakes Races Highlighted by New Kent County G3 Virginia Derby on Aug. 31

Join Colonial Downs and the Virginia Equine Alliance in person or from home as Virginia’s racing revival continues into its third season! A total of 25 stakes races worth more than $2.7 million will be offered at the upcoming seven-week Thoroughbred racing season at Colonial Downs — from July 19 through Sept. 1 — featuring a minimum $500,000 in average daily purses, the Grade 3 $250,000 New Kent County Virginia Derby on Aug. 31, enhanced horsemen incentives, and an expanded racing program for Virginia bred, sired, and certified horses. The 2021 meeting will be scheduled every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with daily first post time at 1:45 p.m. ET. All Colonial Downs races will be televised on TVG.

Live horse racing is back at Colonial Downs: Here's what you need to knowColonial Downs welcomes back fans to this year’s 21-day meeting with free admission. This meet marks the third consecutive increase in scheduled race days as Colonial Downs continues to emerge. Purses at the upcoming meet will start at an average minimum of $500,000 per day, with maiden races offered at $50,000.

The Colonial Downs barn area opened on Monday, July 5. The Colonial Downs’ condition and stakes book, stall applications and all horsemen information are available at

Colonial Downs began racing again in 2019 under new management of Colonial Downs Group. According to a newly released study conducted by Chmura Economics & Analytics, Virginia’s horse racing and breeding industry generated an estimated economic impact of $542.1 million in the Commonwealth in 2019. Industry jobs, racing related expenditures and tax revenue have all risen since the General Assembly passed legalization of Historical Horse Racing machines in 2018, which enabled Colonial Downs to open and fuel the sport’s revitalization.

At the forefront of safety and integrity, Colonial Downs this year became a member of the Mid-Atlantic Strategic Alliance to reduce equine fatalities and supports the federal legislation of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA).

Colonial Downs Renowned Secretariat turf course and 1 ¼ Dirt Track Will Host an Expanded Stakes Schedule

Among the stakes program highlights for this year are:

The July 19 opening-day program will feature four $100,000 stakes on turf, three Virginia restricted, The Bert Allen (3&up, 1 1/16 miles) The Meadow Stable Stakes (3&up, 5 ½ furlongs) and The M. Tyson Gilpin Stakes (3&Up, Fillies and 5 ½ furlongs) and the Virginia Bred/Sired The Nellie Mae Cox Stakes (3&up, Fillies and Mares, 1 mile)

The Monday, July 26 card will include three open stakes on turf, headlined by the $150,000 Buckland Stakes for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles, along with two 5 ½-furlong $100,000 races in the Andy Guest for fillies and mares, and the Da Hoss Stakes for 3-year-olds and up.

On Monday, Aug. 23, Colonial will host four $100,000 stakes in the Mid-Atlantic Championship Series (MATCH) Series on the dirt track: The Victory Gallop, for 3-year-olds and up, and Love Sign, for fillies and mares, are both at 1 1/16 miles while the Chesapeake, for three-year-olds and Seeking The Pearl, for fillies and mares, are at six and seven furlongs, respectively. The 2021 MATCH Series is a cooperative venture between the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Colonial Downs, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Laurel Park.

Virginia Derby Day is slated for Tuesday, Aug. 31, and in addition to the 18th annual renewal of the G3 Virginia Derby that features some of the country’s top trainers, jockeys, and three-year-old turf horses, four other grass stakes will be on the card — the $150,000 Virginia Oaks, listed (3yo fillies, 1 1/8 miles), $150,000 Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Old Nelson Stakes (fillies and mares, 1 1/16 miles), $100,000 Exacta Systems Rosie’s Stakes (2yo, 5 ½ furlongs), and $100,000 Kitten’s Joy Stakes (2yo, 1 1/16 miles). Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) will broadcast live from Colonial Downs on Virginia Derby Day.

Popular horsemen incentive bonus programs also return this season: All owners who start a horse at Colonial Downs will receive the greater of $1,000 or their share of the purse money from the race. All trainers will receive $300 per horse started. Colonial Downs is pleased to extend a $15 donation per starter to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA), which will be matched by the VHBPA.

Informing fans throughout the meeting, Colonial Downs is also extremely proud of this year’s talented broadcast team, led by the ever-popular Jason Beem, who is returning for his third season as the Colonial Downs track announcer. Jessica Paquette will be this year’s paddock host and handicapper, and Merv Huber will continue to provide morning line odds and guest analysis.

“Since we announced our race dates and purse program for the 2021 season, response from horsemen across the country has been extremely positive,” said Jill Byrne, Vice President of Racing Operations. “Our lucrative daily purse structure, attractive horsemen incentives, two fantastic racing surfaces and a varied stakes program, are key ingredients to launching an exciting and successful race meet.

“We are also very excited that this year’s meet is open again to fans, who can enjoy the thrill of the live racing experience.”

“Virginia’s horse owners and trainers are delighted to see an increase to seven weeks of racing with great purses,” said Frank Petramalo, Virginia HBPA Executive Director. “We can’t wait to break out of the gate for a successful summer meet.”

Benefits to Virginia-bred, Sired and Certified Horses

As a sustaining benefit to the Virginia Thoroughbred program, 12 stakes races, worth a combined $1.2 million, will be offered between Virginia-bred, sired, and certified horses.

Six $100,000 turf stakes for Virginia-bred/sired horses are scheduled, including five on the closing- day card. The Jamestown, Camptown, Brookmeade, Edward P. Evans and Punch Line will highlight the Sept. 1 finale in addition to The Nellie Mae Cox, on opening day. All are black-type events except for the Punch Line.

The Virginia restricted $100,000 Hickory Tree for 2-year-olds and $100,000 Keswick Stables sprint stakes highlight the Aug. 2 program, while the Aug. 9 $100,00 Van Clief Stakes (fillies and mares, 1 1/16 miles) will co-headline with the $75,000 Randolph Rouse Steeplechase Stakes that day.


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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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