New Kent, VA --- Colonial Downs opened its barn area Wednesday for the upcoming fall harness racing season, and 40 of an expected 300-plus Standardbred horses shipped onto the grounds and got a morning workout in.
The 16th annual campaign opens Wednesday (Sept. 18) and continues on a four day a week schedule through Oct. 27. Ten races will be carded every Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday beginning at 1 p.m.
Races for opening day will be drawn this Saturday morning and next Thursday’s card will be drawn on Sunday. Qualifying races will be conducted this Saturday as well.
Many new faces will populate the barn area this fall. Trainers competing in Virginia for the first time include Tom Dawson, Robert Dining, Dean Eckley, Mike Jarvis, Erik Jaeck, Todd Johnston, Steve Nason, Tricia Sheppard, Rex Watson, Lawrence Cooper, Russell Early III, Kevin Johnson and Glen Bratcher, among others with smaller stables.
Returning conditioners from last fall’s top 15 include Jane Dunavant, Rick Mapes, George Anthrop, Stacy McLenaghan, Evan Coblentz, Morgan Hagerman, Mark Gray, Cheryl Whitsell and Amanda Jackson.
2012 Colonial driving champ Chris Page is expected to compete in Virginia once the Little Brown Jug card is over. Runner-up Corey Braden will be in the sulky all meet and reinsman Frank Milby, who finished third in the ’09 and ’10 seasons here, will race at Colonial three days a week this fall.
“This will be an interesting season, especially the first couple weeks,” said Colonial’s Director of Racing Craig Andow. “We’ve got so many new stables that will be racing over this one turn mile track for the first time. Since Colonial Downs isn’t part of a circuit per se, my staff worked hard to recruit stables from all over the country to race here this fall.”