A week away from its scheduled opening day horse races, The Colonial Downs Group announced it will no longer welcome folks back to its track and instead move toward spectator-free racing.
The decision came after the Virginia Racing Commission requested Colonial Downs alter course to ensure spectators’ safety amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We accept the position of our industry partners that adjusting to spectator-free racing is ultimately best for protecting the health and safety of our racing participants,” Vice President of Operations John Marshall stated in a news release. " Our team is prepared to deliver a quality racing product while ensuring a safely run meet, which is our chief objective.”
Previously, Colonial Downs planned to welcome folks back July 27 under Gov. Ralph Northam’s Phase 3 plan. With an extensive plan in place, Marshall said it would only allow 1,000 spectators at the track at the time and changed the regular weekend racing schedule to a Monday through Wednesday schedule.
Now, the group plans to continue its Monday through Wednesday schedule but it will televise the races instead of letting citizens witness the races in person.
“Our horsemen fully support the decision to conduct racing without fans at Colonial Downs this summer, otherwise the public risk is too great,” Executive Director Frank Petramalo Jr. said in a news release. “There is a bright spot. All of our races will be televised live on the TVG network and people can wager on TVG or on other online sites.”
Colonial Downs joins other horse racing tracks in the country in closing its doors to the public.
For participating jockeys, Colonial Downs will continue to run its safety protocols and jockeys will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test before arriving on grounds in order to race.
Additionally, if jockeys leave to race in other tracks then they will not be permitted back at Colonial Downs unless they self-quarantine for 14 days as well as providing a negative test.
Rosie’s Gaming Emporium remains open but Colonial Downs grandstands, concessions and outdoor facilities will remain closed.
If folks wish to watch the live races, they are encouraged to watch on the TVG channel. For Xfinity users, channel 718; for Dish users, channel 399; for DirectTV users, channel 602. Folks can also visit tvg.com.
For more information, visit colonialdowns.com.
Emily Holter, email@example.com, 757-256-6657, @EmilyHolterNews.
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