|Location||New Kent County, Virginia, USA|
|Owned by||Jacobs Entertainment, Inc.|
|Date closed||Thoroughbred racing ended in 2013; Harness racing ended in 2014|
|Race type||Thoroughbred, Harness|
|Course type||Flat racing|
|Notable races||Virginia Derby (G2)
Colonial Turf Cup (G2)
Virginia Oaks (G3)
All Along Stakes (G3)
Colonial Downs was a racetrack for Thoroughbred flat racing and Standardbred harness racing located in New Kent County, Virginia adjacent to Interstate 64, halfway between Richmond, Virginia and Williamsburg, Virginia.
History and information
The track opened on September 1, 1997. More than 13,000 attended the track on opening day. The track used several unconventional construction and business approaches. They constructed one of the largest tracks in size in the country but built a relatively small clubhouse. They also built OTB's prior to the opening of the track. The track also struck a deal with Maryland to stop Maryland racing during the Colonial Downs thoroughbred meet, although this later ended. The tract of land on which the track is built was obtained through an eminent domain suit brought by the State of Virginia against an African American/Native American family (Tero Johnson) that had owned the majority of the land since 1863.
Until 2005, the track was managed by the Maryland Jockey Club under a complicated agreement with Virginia and Maryland regulators and the Maryland-Virginia Racing Circuit. The track was fairly successful and offered good summertime turf racing in the traditionally poor three-year-old turf division. The track ran two legs of the annual Jacobs Investments Grand Slam of Grass. This event consisted of the Colonial Turf Cup and the Virginia Derby from Colonial Downs, the Secretariat Stakes from Arlington Park and the Breeders' Cup Turf.
The track requested 25 thoroughbred dates in 2009, down from 45 in 2008. After negotiations with the track's horsemen and the Commonwealth of Virginia, the track ran 40 thoroughbred dates. The schedule originally ran from June 12 to August 4, 2009, but was later moved up one week. This allowed the track to run live racing on Belmont Stakes day, June 6. The fall harness meet ran 36 dates, from September 8 through November 7. The harness meet was timed to end on Breeders' Cup weekend.
The track closed in October 2014 after a dispute with the horsemen's group and the state racing commission. Colonial Downs announced that all remaining parimutuel venues would be closed on April 7, 2015.
The track has a one and one-quarter mile dirt oval, a seven and one half furlong inner turf oval and a one and one-eighth mile outer turf oval.
Harness races start from a chute on the back stretch of the dirt oval, making for the only one-turn mile in harness racing.
The track featured an autumn harness racing meet. Colonial Downs was the only 1 and 1/4 mile track in North America with harness racing and features a one turn mile. The horses start from a chute on the backstretch. Harness racing times at Colonial Downs were the fastest in racing. On October 11, 2008, the world trotting record was set during the $100,000 Patriot Invitational. It was set by Enough Talk. The trotter became the first in harness racing history to break the 1:50 barrier with 1:49.3.
The following graded stakes were run at Colonial Downs:
- Grade 2 Virginia Derby
- Grade 2 Colonial Turf Cup Stakes
- Grade 3 All Along Stakes
- Grade 3 Virginia Oaks
The Colonial Turf Cup and the Virginia Derby make up two legs of the Grand Slam of Grass.