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2020 Update

There's a lot of history about Virginia, but not much about pari-mutual horse racing. One of the last State's to legalize wagering on horse racing in 1988, it has only has one live racing facility in the "Old Dominion".

Open in 1997, Colonial Downs is the sole racing plant in Virginia. It is a multi function track that provides both a thoroughbred and harness racing meet. It is also one of the largest tracks in the country at one mile and one quarter, which encloses an inner and outer turf courses.

Unable to resolve issues with horseman Colonial Downs ceased thoroughbred racing in 2013, harness racing ended after the 2014 season. Racing is not totally dead in Virginia but after The State Racing Commission denied Colonial Downs proposal for live racing in 2016, it's probably on life support, waiting for someone to pull the plug.

If your looking to visit the Virginia tracks, there's good news and bad news. The good news, obviously there's only one, if your travelling the I-95 corridor, you'll have to make a thirty mile detour on I-64 south to New Kent. The track is closed and in a heavily wooded area, if the access road is blocked you might not even get a glimpse of it, a risk you always take  going to a closed facility.

The bad news, if your going south it will nine hours before you reach Jacksonville, Florida and a chance to visit another track. Going north, no problem, plenty of action in Maryland.

2020 Update

Since the last update there have been some positive changes in the Old Dominion. Horse racing has returned to Colonial Downs, thanks to the addition of Historic Racing VLT slot machines. The track reopened in 2019 with a handful of dates. In 2020 the season is being expanded to eighteen days of thoroughbred racing, with six Friday, Saturday, Sunday cards starting in July. The season concludes with the Virginia Derby on closing weekend. It looks like only thoroughbreds are returning, but don't worry harness fans you've got a new place to play too.

It may not be new, but Shenandoah Downs is new to pari-mutual racing. Harness races have been run here for over a hundred years, but without wagering until 2016 (at least not legally). Racing is held over five weekends in the fall for a total of fifteen days.