01/18/2008 12:00AM

Colonial Downs up for sale


The owner of Colonial Downs has put the Virginia racetrack and its nine offtrack betting facilities up for sale, citing the inability to offer casino-type gambling at the track.

Jacobs Entertainment, which is based in Golden, Colo., and owns several small gambling operations in Colorado, Nevada, and Louisiana, announced this week that it had hired Libra Securities to take offers for the properties. Colonial Downs, which opened in 1997, is located in New Kent, Va.

In a release, Jeff Jacobs, the chief executive officer of Jacobs Entertainment, said that "macro trends" in the racing industry had convinced the company that horse racing tracks without slot machines or other casino-type games would not be able to grow to their "full potential."

"The vast majority of the racetracks in America that maximize the potential and quality of racing are those that feature gaming opportunities in addition to parimutuel wagering," Jacobs said.

Officials for Jacobs Entertainment did not return phone calls on Friday.

Colonial Downs sits on

345 acres of land and was built for $55 million as the only recipient of a Class A racing license in the state. It operates a two-month Thoroughbred meet in the summer, carding more than 80 percent of its races on a mammoth grass course and drawing on the horse population from Maryland. The track also conducts a short harness meet in the fall.

Jacobs also attempted to sell the track in 1999, after losses over the first two years of operation of $6.5 million, according to testimony he provided to the Virginia Racing Commission at the time. The attempt attracted no significant offers.