03/22/2002 1:00AM

Colonial again mostly turf racing


Colonial Downs expects to run up to 80 percent of its races on the turf again this year, including 13 of the track's 14 stakes, a track official said Friday.

Last year, the Virginia track ran 81 percent of its races on the one-mile turf course, according to Darrell Wood, the track's publicity director. This year, the track will try to run more races on the 1 1/4-mile dirt course, but the mix of horses will ultimately determine the ratio, Wood said.

"The plans last year were for a 60-40 mix, but the horsemen that came down all brought turf horses," Wood said. "The hope is that we can use the dirt course a little more, but we'll have to play it as it goes along."

The $200,000 Virginia Derby, the track's richest stakes, will be run on July 13 this year, at 1 1/4 miles on the turf. On the undercard that day will be the Grade 3, $150,000 All Along Breeders' Cup Handicap, at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

The Colonial meet is scheduled to open on June 21 and run through July 23, for 26 live race days, Friday through Tuesday.