Colonial Downs Begins Summer Virginia Horse Racing Schedule July 13

Colonial Downs Begins Summer Virginia Horse Racing Schedule July 13
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

Under new management and a new schedule, Virginia’s thoroughbred horse racing season is set to kick off this month at Colonial Downs racetrack in New Kent.

Colonial Downs hosts live thoroughbred racing on two nationally renowned surfaces – the Secretariat Turf Course, the widest turf course in North America at 180 feet wide; and on dirt track that’s 1-1/4 miles, second in length to only the world-famous Belmont Park.

After several years of holding horse racing on a Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday schedule, Colonial Downs is moving its 2023 summer campaign schedule, with Saturdays reserved for big events.

First Season Under Churchill Downs Ownership

The 2023 live racing season, which consists of 27 days from July 13 through Sept. 9, is highlighted by the Grade 1 Arlington Million, Grade 1 Beverly D. and Grade 2 Secretariat Stakes on Aug. 12 and the Grade 3 New Kent County Virginia Derby on Sept. 9. Racing will take place Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

The schedule change will be a first at the track under new owners Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI). That company is known for its signature event, the Kentucky Derby.

In February 2022, CDI announced that it had acquired Colonial Downs and all six Rosie’s Gaming Emporium historical horse racing facilities in Virginia.

Horse fans can come out, wager, and cheer on the horses from the trackside as they charge down the stretch.

The minimum for Win, Place, and Show wagers is $2; the Exacta, Daily Double, Pick 3 and Old Dominion 6 will carry a $1 base; Trifecta, Pick 4, and Pick 5 wagers can be played for as little as 50 cents; and the Superfecta will have a 10-cent minimum.

In addition to live horse racing, Colonial Downs has 551 Historical Horse Racing (HHR) machines, which are like slot machines. There are no online casinos in Virginia.

Must be 21+ to participate and present in VA. T&Cs apply.

HHR Machines Part of Burgeoning Scene

There are 2,607 HHR machines in Virginia spread out at six Rosie’s Gaming Emporium locations. But those HHR locations are just one component of Virginia’s gaming market.

Since 2021, the Commonwealth has launched legal online wagering on sports with more than 15 companies operating Virginia betting apps in the state.

In July 2022, Hard Rock International opened the first temporary casino in the state, Bristol Casino. Rivers Casino Portsmouth followed with an opening in January as Virginia’s first full-service casino. Caesars Virginia is the latest addition to the landscape opening a temporary casino in Danville in May.

Bonus Bets Expire in 7 Days. One New Customer Offer Only. Must be 21+ to participate & present in VA. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER. Visit for Terms & Conditions. US promotional offers not available in NY, NV, or Puerto Rico.

Famed Trainers Arrive

Horse vans began arriving in earnest as the stable area at Colonial Downs opened on June 19 in advance of the 2023 season.

A record $5.25 million in stakes purses and an average daily purse distribution of $700,000 ensures the 2023 meet could be the biggest year yet at Colonial Downs and an appealing Virginia sports betting option.

The track will have a full complement of 850 horses on its backstretch.

Among the first horses to arrive were those from the barn of Kelsey Danner, shipping in from Kentucky; Virginia mainstays Karen Godsey, Woodbery Payne, and David Bourke; and Angel Rodriguez, arriving from his Florida home base.

Karen Godsey moved 18 horses into the track barns recently and has six more to bring, for a total of 24.

The first horse on the track on June 23 when training began was Payne’s young filly, Wine and Roses. 

Other trainers expected for the 2023 meet include Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen; Graham Motion, winner of both the 2019 and 2021 editions of the G3 Virginia Derby; last year’s leading trainer Mike Stidham; Jonathan Thomas; Mike Trombetta and Michelle Lovell.

All races from Colonial Downs can be seen daily on either FanDuel TV or FanDuel Racing.

For sports wagering options outside of horses, get reviews and information on VA sportsbook promos here at



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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