Colonial Downs 2022 Virginia Horse Racing Season Begins Monday

Colonial Downs 2022 Virginia Horse Racing Season Begins Monday
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

Trainers from around the country have arrived at Colonial Downs racetrack to take part in Virginia's 2022 thoroughbred horse meet in New Kent. High daily purses and an extended meet schedule are attracting elite horses and horsemen to the Virginia sports wagering event.

Now in its fourth year under the management of the Colonial Downs Group and ownership of Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, Colonial Downs racetrack is locked and loaded to award more than $625,000 — a record amount — in daily average purses over 27 days of horse racing at the track. The first horses started arriving at the facility Monday for the meet, presented by Woodford Reserve, which opens July 11.

Racing will be conducted every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday through Sept. 7. Daily post time is 1:45 p.m. Two non-betting steeplechase races will be held every Monday at 12:30 p.m. before the pari-mutuel card begins.

Colonial Downs will have a full complement of 850 horses occupying 14 barns on its backstretch this year, according to an article on the Virginia Horsing Racing website.

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Some Big-Name Trainers Coming

Arlington Park leading trainer Larry Rivelli was one of the first to arrive at Colonial Downs last week after transferring his summer operation from the Midwest.

Trainers for the 2022 meet also include Graham Motion, winner of both the 2019 and 2021 Virginia Derby (G3), leading money-earner Michael Trombetta, Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen, Dallas Stewart, Mike Tomlinson, Carlos Munoz, Mike Stidham, Hamilton Smith and Michelle Lovell.

As a bonus, once again, all owners will be guaranteed $1,000 per start or their share of the purse money, and all trainers will receive $300 per start as recognition for loyal participation every race, every day.

Owners of Virginia-bred and Virginia-sired horses will earn a 50% bonus on first- to fourth-place finishes in all open races.

As an additional benefit to horsemen, maiden special weight races during the meeting will carry a $60,000 purse.

The $300,000 New Kent County Virginia Derby (G3) for 3-year-olds and the $200,000 Virginia Oaks for 3-year-fillies, both on Sept. 6, once again highlight the stakes calendar.

For Virginia Horse Bettors

Fans will again enjoy free parking and free admission every day. Five different giveaway days are scheduled including a Secretariat T-Shirt on opening day. And for the first time in 21 years, Colonial Downs will race on Labor Day afternoon, giving families a chance to enjoy summer’s last holiday in an affordable and fun atmosphere.

For bettors, Colonial will lower the takeout rate on its 50-cent Pick 5 wager to just 12% and the bet will offer a carryover provision for the first time. On days when nobody picks all five winners, 25% of the net pool will be paid to those who correctly select the most winners while the remaining 75% will be carried over to the following day’s program. Also new since last year at Colonial Downs is a Monday Mid-Atlantic Pick-4 wager during August that will feature two races each at both Colonial and Monmouth.

Changes Coming to Colonial Downs Group?

In addition to the racetrack, Colonial Downs Group owns and operates Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums in Richmond, Hampton, New Kent, Vinton, and Dumfries that offer over 2,000 historic horse racing (HHR) machines and off-track horse betting services.

The company recently opened a Rosie’s Game Room in Collinsville, which features a limited selection of some of their best HHR titles.

Colonial Downs Group has made a $300-million investment in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The company pays more than $32 million in annual state and local taxes plus an additional $12 million in racing industry payments annually.

In February, Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) announced that it was acquiring Colonial Downs and all six Rosie’s Gaming Emporium historical horse racing facilities across the state.

The Louisville, Kentucky-based gaming company, known for its signature event, the Kentucky Derby, has agreed to purchase the assets of Peninsula Pacific Entertainment for $2.485 billion, according to a news release. In addition to the assets in Virginia, CDI will acquire a casino in New York as well as the operations of its Sioux City, Iowa, casino.

Churchill Downs received the first approval it needs to take ownership of Colonial Downs at the June 8 Virginia Racing Commission meeting.

The commission voted unanimously to approve the proposed acquisition of ownership interest in Colonial, along with other associated properties, from Colonial parent Peninsula Pacific Entertainment to Churchill. The deal remains on schedule to close by the end of the year. Approvals in New York and Iowa are pending.

Churchill Downs, which operates 3,000 HHR terminals in Kentucky, will add 2,687 online gaming terminals in Virginia under the sale. Under Virginia law, the total number of terminals can rise to 5,200.



Keith Stein

Keith Stein is a Virginia-based freelance journalist for He has a combined 27 years of experience in freelance writing, full-time journalism and supporting monthly and weekly news publications. He has also worked as a contributing writer with United Press International.

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