Colonial Downs will usher in its 17th season of pari-mutuel harness racing on Sept. 17 and continue with a six-week fall campaign thru Oct. 26.
Pacers and trotters will compete over the nation's only one turn mile racetrack every Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. Ten races are expected to be contested each afternoon.
Highlight of the meet is the annual $350,000 (est.) Virginia Harness Day of Champions on closing day, when Virginia-bred 2 and 3 year olds of both sexes will compete in eight championship races.
The Sunday, Sept. 21, card will feature the popular ostrich and camel races, which had become a Father's Day tradition during the 2012 and 2013 summer Thoroughbred meets. Since there was no flat meet this year, the unique promotion will take place during the fall season. Harness drivers will be invited to ride the camels while ostriches, in keeping with a Standardbred theme, will have a sulky of sorts attached to them.
The VHHA "Own a Horse for a Day” promotion will return for a third straight year. The harness horsemen's association will select the name of eight fans in attendance each Saturday, and those fans will return the following day as horse "owners” and get to keep the amount of purse money their respective horse earns. They will also tour the barn area, meet their trainer and driver, and enjoy a lunch for two in the VHHA Sky Suite.
The Colonial Downs stable area opens Sept. 10 and training begins the following morning. The first qualifying races are Saturday, Sept. 13, at 1 p.m. and the opening day draw will be held that morning. Stall applications from prospective horsemen are due on Sept. 5. For information, call racing secretary Craig Andow at (201) 663-1973.
A total of eight late closer stake series have also been announced and nominations are currently being accepted. The slate of pacing only stakes includes the Horace Martin Memorial, VHHA and the U Gotta Win One Now series events. Trotting only stakes include the Parkers' Memorial and the We Redeem Our Fallen Soldiers. The Good Ole USA, Juniors and Delmarva series all feature separate pacing and trotting divisional legs.
The fourth floor Turf Club Dining Room will be open on weekends this fall with a unique all-inclusive admission plan. For $19.95, fans will receive Turf Club admission, a table seat, buffet lunch with tea & lemonade (includes tax and gratuity), a Colonial Downs program along with two simulcast programs and a gift shop discount. Group outings in the 4th Sky Suites are available on weekend afternoons.
Fans can make reservations beginning Sept. 2 by calling (804) 966-7223, ext. 1032 or visiting colonialdowns.com. Group inquiries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. General admission is $3 and can be paid right at the gate; kids 12 and under are free. (Colonial Downs)