03/24/2011 1:59PM

Colonial Downs changes schedule


A new midweek schedule and twilight racing on Saturdays are the two of the biggest changes on tap for the 2011 racing season at Colonial Downs.

The track in New Kent, Va., announced Wednesday that it will hold a 33-day meet from June 8 to July 31.

Instead of racing on Mondays and Tuesdays as part of a five-day week, as was customary in the past, Colonial will run four days a week on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

With the exceptin of a special matinee card on July 4, first post time for all but the Sunday cards will be 5 p.m. Eastern. Sunday racing begins at 12:55 p.m.

According to track president Ian Stewart, the shift to twilight racing on Saturdays should help with live attendance.

“We felt that by moving our Saturday post back to 5 p.m., we’d avoid the heat of the afternoon and beach traffic congestion issues on I-64 that have grown more challenging over the years,” Stewart said. “I think the 5 to 9 p.m. racing hours on Saturday will be more comfortable for both the fans and horses.”

Highlights of the meet will again be the track’s two signature races – the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup on June 18 and the Grade 2, $600,000 Virginia Derby on July 16. In past years, both grass stakes have been restricted to 3-year-olds, but this year, only the Derby will keep that condition. The Turf Cup will be open to 3-year-olds and up in an effort to try to lure more horses, especially those who have run in the event in the past.