06/24/2014 11:51AM

Colonial Downs unlikely to hold 2014 meet, focus shifts to 2015


The possibility of a 2014 live meet at Colonial Downs appears nearly extinct following an ultimatum by the Virginia Racing Commission that shifts the focus on conducting a meet in 2015.

After a months-long contract dispute over racing dates between the Virginia horsemen and Colonial Downs management – one that has stretched past the track’s originally scheduled opening day for live racing – the VRC tasked the two groups in a June 23 meeting to agree on an eight-week schedule for 2015 with no live meet this year.

The government body instructed that it wanted to see an agreement reached by early July.

The VRC had originally directed the track to host a 25-day meet over five weeks in 2014, and closed Colonial’s off-track betting facilities in February when a deal could not be reached with the horsemen. If the 2015 plan is put in place, the VRC indicated that it would allow the OTBs to re-open to raise purse funds for next year’s meet.

Colonial Downs, located in New Kent County, Va., also has the option to still host what remains of its assigned race dates in 2014, but Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Frank Petramalo Jr. said that Colonial’s spot on the Mid-Atlantic racing landscape made that unlikely.

“Obviously, we would be disappointed if we don’t run in 2014,” he said. “It looks like that probably will be the case, if for no other reason, here we are at almost July 1 and there’s nothing on the planning board for racing this summer. We normally run in June and July to take advantage of a window created by the cessation of Maryland racing after the Preakness and the beginning of the Timonium meet at the end of August. It would be very difficult to put together a meet that would be successful to run in that window.”

One silver lining that could come from the plan to aim toward 2015 is that a half-year’s worth of OTB income would boost the purse structure for next year’s meet. Petramalo speculated that purses could be raised 50 percent to almost double their normal levels if Colonial runs the proposed dates and the OTB parlors are re-opened in a timely manner.

“I think we’d be able to not quite double the purses, but substantially increase them because obviously we’d be banking money,” he said. “Bear in mind for the first five months of this year, the OTBs have been shut down. Through May, that’s probably cost us about $1.1 million that would have gone into our purse account.”

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have a sister that lives outside Richmond so I've been to the off track a couple of times. They use gun carrying off duty cops to keep the place safe. well I've never seen a need for that at a off-track facility before. There were not many people there so I turned on 2 TV's. A little while later the off-duty cop came over and told me to turn one off. Gun and all. I never went back.
Sinatra Jeter More than 1 year ago
Having a race track in Virginia was a dream come true but like the poet says "what happens to a dream deferred" I can now plan on going to West Virginia to make wagers. I can now plan on going to California for the Breeders Cup. I can now plan on going to Chicago for the Arlington Million. Now that I have a well paying job and can afford the trips I can look forward to having a little fun. Before while the OTB's were in operation I didn't have a dime to wager and hardly had a way to get to Martinsville so it is hardly any consolation that the race track won't open in 2014 without getting a cent of my hard earned dollars. TurfRuler
GQ More than 1 year ago
It is a shame. They have huge fields and so much turf racing but the actual structure is a teardown. It looks grand when you walk up. Brick front etc... And then you get in there and you say where is the rest of the place. Large dog track or a small harness track is what the inside is like. What the hell. GQ
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
wow, I had no idea, I've driven by it on the way to Va Beach and it does look impressive.
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
Doomed from the start, not a horse player in site of this place.
Eduard Dixon More than 1 year ago
They don't care any about the workers who are losing pay check s
ken n More than 1 year ago
Overrated dump
Adam Strominger More than 1 year ago
build a track in the middle of nowhere
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
There's a population of way over a half-million within an hour of the joint. When they hang a big Stake, people come. The problem lies with Jacobs Entertainment trying to operate a simulcast parlor with no live Racing. When the place folds, Virginia Horsemen will buy and make it go.
findingsymmetry More than 1 year ago
Don't count on that. Jacobs wants $60 mil for that track, and it's not worth it. The only goal CD has had for the past two to three years has been to eliminate live racing and operate the OTBs. It's a power play. The horsemen have offered to buy the track on multiple occasions, but he won't accept anything less than the 60 he thinks it's worth. If the VRC forces CD to relinquish their racing license, finding a buyer is going to be doubly difficult.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Not too many care.Shame for the workers who need the pay checks
sk More than 1 year ago
Mikey , Agree with ya , CD has been greedy . I used to drive 2 hrs. from NC to Martinsville OTB. I tried to call them Today . I found that phone lines are out of of service . Re=opeing OTB may take considerable time. Even though i am not intertested now going before breeders cup.