05/20/2014 3:00PM

Virginia extends Colonial deadline

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The Virginia Racing Commission has extended a deadline to Thursday for Colonial Downs and Virginia’s horsemen to come to an agreement on a live race meet this year, according to the executive director of the commission.

The deadline was extended from Monday, when the Virginia Racing Commission had first mandated the two sides reach a deal. Bernie Hettel, the executive director of the commission, said the commission agreed to extend the deadline because the two sides were making progress toward an agreement.

“I’m encouraged,” Hettel said Tuesday. “I’ve spent most of the morning talking to both sides.”

Colonial and the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association have been sparring all year over the proper length for a race meet this year. Colonial has favored a six-day, two-week meet, while horsemen have pressed for a 25-day meet spread over five weeks.

In early May, the commission approved a 25-day meet at the track, the same dates as last year, and told the two sides to reach a live racing agreement with those dates by May 19. The commission has said that it needs to set the 2014 schedule soon in order to fill commission positions that will be necessary for a live meet.