02/29/2008 12:00AM

Two richest races take purse cut

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Colonial Downs has cut the purse for the Grade 2 Virginia Derby by $250,000 and has trimmed the purse for the Grade 3 Colonial Turf Cup by $150,000, the track announced this week.

The purse for the Virginia Derby this year will be $750,000, and the Colonial Turf Cup purse will be $600,000, the track said. The two stakes are the richest held at the Virginia track. Colonial officials said the cuts were necessary in order to maintain the track’s overnight purse structure.

For the past several years, Colonial Downs has offered $5 million in purses and bonus money to any horse that can win the Colonial Turf Cup, the Virginia Derby, the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park, and the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Colonial officials said that bonus would remain in place despite the purse cuts to the races.

This year, the Turf Cup will be held on June 21, and the Virginia Derby is scheduled for July 19.

The Virginia Derby and the Turf Cup are part of a 17-stakes schedule that the track released earlier this week. The track will offer two other graded stakes as part of the schedule, the Grade 3, $200,000 All Along Breeders’ Cup on June 21 and the Grade 3, $200,000 Virginia Oaks on July 19.

Colonial’s owner, Jacobs Entertainment, announced earlier this year that it was attempting to sell the track, citing the inability to operate slot machines or casino-type games. Jacobs owns several small gambling properties in Colorado, Nevada, and Louisiana.

Colonial’s live Thoroughbred meet is scheduled for June 9 through Aug.?6, running Friday through Tuesday each week.