Sunday, July 21, 2024

With Live Racing on the Horizon, Colonial Downs Stables Have Opened and Training Has Begun

Colonial Downs stables are filling up ahead of the live racing season. (Colonial Downs)

NEW KENT — With just about a week to go until live thoroughbred racing returns to the Colonial Downs, the stables at the racetrack are filling with thoroughbred horses that will compete over nine weeks of weekend racing.

The racing season runs from Thursday, July 11 to Saturday, Sept. 7, and more than 100 horses have already arrived, with approximately 700 horses expected to stable at the track during race season, according to the racetrack. Daily training for horses and trainers has also commenced.

“The opening of our stables means race season is right around the corner,” said Frank Hopf, Senior Director of Racing Operations at Colonial Downs. “We are excited to see our stables filling with world-class thoroughbreds from around the country, and welcome the jockeys, trainers, and racing professionals that make Colonial Downs Virginia’s premier home for live thoroughbred racing.”

Following a record-setting 2023, the track is preparing for the new season of weekend racing with improved fan experiences, promotions and high-stakes thoroughbred racing.

Over nine weeks, the New Kent racetrack, which is the widest grass racing surface in North America, will hold three race days per week from Thursday through Saturday.

New this year, steeplechase horse racing will now be a regular feature at Colonial Downs nearly every Thursday. The racetrack will offer wagering on three jump races during Thursday steeplechase race cards beginning at 11:45 a.m.

Topped by a quartet of graded races, Colonial Downs’ 2024 stakes program consists of 27 races worth a combined $5.7 million, according to the track. Highlights include the Colonial Downs Festival of Racing on Saturday, Aug. 10, featuring the Grade 1 Arlington Million ($1 million) and the Grade 2 Secretariat Stakes ($500,000) and Grade 2 Beverly D. Stakes ($500,000). The Beverly D. is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win & You’re In” race.

All three races are slated to be run over Colonial’s Secretariat Turf Course. The Grade 3 New Kent County Virginia Derby ($500,000), Colonial Downs’ longtime signature event, will be raced on the season’s closing day, Saturday, Sept. 7.

Tickets are now on sale for the entire 2024 racing season, and visitors can enjoy a series of promotions:

  • Thirsty Thursdays — Starting on July 11, this summer-long promotion will feature drink specials along with an opportunity to purchase a souvenir cup to receive discounted domestic draft beer during live racing every Thursday. Post time for flat races on Thursdays is 1:30 p.m., with steeplechase races beginning at 11:45 a.m. on select Thursdays throughout race season.
  • Party at the Downs — Start the weekend early every Fridaywith a late-afternoon post time of 4:30 p.m. and races continuing into the evening. The party starts even earlier with happy hour drink specials from 4-7 p.m. and live music in the Trackside Tent.
  • Saturday promotions — Each Saturday of the race season will feature a different event or promotion along with family-fun activities in the Trackside Tent starting at 1:30 p.m.

Families can also enjoy pony rides, petting zoos, and face painting, while all guests can enjoy promotions and giveaways, including a Colonial Downs Calendar Giveaway, the Taste of New Kent County and Hat Giveaway, a Colonial Downs Festival of Racing, Commonwealth Champions Day, and a celebration of Virginia Derby Day and Secretariat Poster Giveaway.

General admission and guest parking is free every day. For an elevated guest experience, Colonial Downs offers reserved Grandstand Seats and Grandstand Box Seats, as well as dining options in the Jockey Club restaurant on the third floor and in the 1609 restaurant on the fourth floor.

For more information on tickets, dining, and pricing, visit Colonial Downs on the web at

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