Virginia Extends 2022 Horse Racing Season at Two Tracks

Virginia Extends 2022 Horse Racing Season at Two Tracks
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

In 2022, Virginia sports bettors can look forward to a longer horse racing season at Colonial Downs and Shenandoah Downs, surrounded by a variety of annual events supporting pari-mutuel betting in the commonwealth.

Pari-mutuel betting is the most common form of horse racing bets. Rather than placing a bet against the racetrack, as one would with a bookie or sportsbook, horse racing bettors are wagering against each other. For this reason, the payouts on a single wager could range anywhere from less than the actual amount wagered to astronomical amounts.

There are three types of pari-mutuel horse racing in Virginia — steeplechase racing at Great Meadow in The Plains, thoroughbred racing at Colonial Downs in New Kent and harness racing at Shenandoah Downs in Woodstock. Colonial Downs also hosts the Virginia Derby.

The commonwealth offers online sports betting, but no real money online casinos at this point.

97th Virginia Gold Cup is May 7

The 97th Virginia Gold Cup will take place May 7 at Great Meadow in The Plains. Gates open at 10 a.m. with pre-race entertainment starting at 12:30 p.m. The first of seven horse races will be underway at 1 p.m.

The race is held at the Great Meadow Foundation's 374-acre equestrian event park. Founded by philanthropist Arthur “Nick” Arundel as a permanent home for the Virginia Gold Cup steeplechase races, Great Meadow today hosts numerous events that draw 200,000 through the gates each year to see steeplechasing, polo and show jumpers.

Last year, the event was held with a limited number of spectators because of COVID-19 restrictions. This year, tailgate packages and hospitality tents are available. More than 50,000 people come out in their race-day finest to socialize and entertain.

Bettors are encouraged to grab a race program at the event, scope out their horses and head to one of the betting stations on the grounds to see a teller and place their bet. The minimum bet is $2.

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.

Colonial Downs 2022 Schedule

Live racing returns to Colonial Downs Racetrack in New Kent County on July 11 through Sept. 7. Premium tickets are now on sale while general admission and parking are free. Top thoroughbred horses from around the country will run every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with post time at 1:45 p.m. each day.

The 2022 season at Colonial Downs will be extended by six days, running a total of 27 days compared to last year's 21-day season.

Purses for the 2022 stakes program will increase by $850,000 over 2021, totaling over $3.5 million in stakes prizes. Horsemen will be competing for an average of $600,000 in daily purses.

Colonial Downs’ parent company, Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, was recently bought by Churchill Downs in a deal worth $2.485 billion. The track offers a family friendly atmosphere, casual dining, private suites for larger parties, outdoor clubhouse boxes, reserved grandstand seating and a hospitality tent trackside open to everyone. Concessions are available throughout the facility with food trucks stationed on the grandstand apron.

Fans can catch the action up close from the paddock and watch the horses and jockeys as they prepare to race, then head trackside to cheer their favorite horses as they charge down the stretch.

The racing season is topped by the Grade 3, $300,000 Virginia Derby for 3-year-olds on Sept. 6 along with the $200,000 Virginia Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. Both races will run on the renowned Secretariat Turf Course, named for the famous Triple Crown champion who was born in Doswell, Va.

Shenandoah Downs 2022 Schedule

Virginia harness racing is poised to take another step forward this fall when Shenandoah Downs ushers in its seventh season of pari-mutuel events beginning Sept. 16 and continuing thru Nov. 6, an increase of three weeks from prior meets.

Shenandoah Downs is at the historic Shenandoah County Fairgrounds in Woodstock, Va., halfway between Harrisonburg and Winchester on Interstate 81 at Exit 283.

The track will host pacers and trotters every Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. through Oct. 15, then switch to a Saturday and Sunday format the final three weeks with a 1 p.m. post time both days.

Parking and admission are free to the fall races.

Must be 21+ to participate. T&Cs apply.

Virginia Online Betting

For online horse betting, Virginia residents can wager through four partner companies:,, and Fans can create an account and begin wagering on horse races worldwide from Virginia.

Off-Track Betting Locations

If you can't make it to the track this year, visit one of these off-track betting locations where you can place wagers:

  • Breakers Sports Grille, TJ Maxx Shopping Center, 9127 W. Broad St, Henrico, Va. 23294
  • Buckets Bar & Grill, 228 North Battlefield Blvd, Chesapeake, Va. 23220
  • The Windmill OTB Sports Grill, 2360 Virginia Ave., Collinsville, Va. 24078

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


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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