Colonial Downs 2021 Race Season Ends in Record-Setting Fashion

Colonial Downs 2021 Race Season Ends in Record-Setting Fashion
By Keith Stein

The 2021 Colonial Downs race season recently concluded in record-setting fashion with more than $10 million in purse distribution, a new all-time daily average of wagering, and wide participation from some of America’s leading racing stables, jockeys, and trainers.

The track, in New Kent, provided 21 days of thoroughbred racing from July 19 through Sept. 1.

Colonial Downs announced in March that live horse races would resume in July.

“It is expected the 2022 season will feature additional race days as Virginia’s racing revival continues,” Colonial Downs said in a news release.

This year was the third season at the track under the banner of the Colonial Downs Group with an expanded meet to seven weeks of racing Monday through Wednesday.

It has been a big year for the expansion of Virginia gambling as sports betting in Virginia went live in late January.

2021 Highlights

  • In all, total handle for the 21 days was $46.9 million, which generated a record daily handle of $2.23 million. An estimated $10.4 million in purses was paid, averaging $522,000 per day, the highest monies earned by horse, trainer, jockey and owner in Virginia history.
  • Showcased 10 races featuring Virginia bred horses with $1 million in purses helping to boost Virginia’s breeding program.
  • A total of 725 horses were stabled on the grounds, showing Colonial Downs' increased strength in the Mid-Atlantic region. In addition to those based in Virginia, horsemen participating in the meet came from Kentucky, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
  • The Colonial racing program generated a total of 1,713 starters for the 205 races conducted this year. The track attracted an average of more than eight horses per race, higher than the national average in August.
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Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship Series

In addition to the above highlights, the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships Series (MATCH) returned to Colonial Downs in Virginia for the first time since 2001 with a slate of four $100,000 stakes.

Colonial Downs was an original MATCH partner when the series was launched in 1997, having hosted four stakes in four of the five divisions that year. Track management and the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association had agreed to rejoin the series in 2020 — but MATCH was canceled because of COVID-19.

COVID-19 & Safety

The 2021 season was also conducted under the strictest safety and security protocols. These practices played a major role resulting in zero racing or equine fatalities and placed Colonial Downs among the country’s best on The Jockey Club’s Equine Industry Database.

The track also added a stringent COVID-19 mitigation and prevention program that included daily screenings, frequent sanitation, and strict adherence to changing guidelines from federal, state, and local health authorities.

In addition, the facility provided a vaccination clinic featuring the Moderna vaccine for licensed horsemen and their immediate family members.



Keith Stein is a Virginia-based writer for who covers sports betting and casinos.

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