Good evening. After several years of keeping a largely routine schedule, this year's meet has changes. Racing officials seek to balance Colonial Downs' visibility on a national level with accessibility to fans that can attend live racing.
In essence in this business, if your not making up ground, you may be losing it. If the last couple of weeks are an indicator of summer weather ahead, the cooler evening temperatures will be more attractive to fans and handler's alike. Other changes include Fridays being dark in the new 4 day race week and the Colonial Turf Cup (June 18th) now open to older horses.
A vibrant personality missing from this year's meet is jockey Rosemary Homeister, Jr. The leading rider at Colonial Downs the past two years is in her third trimester of pregnancy. The 38-year old filly is becoming a mare. Homeister's hasn't ruled out returning to racing in the future.
Finally, for the first time in Colonial Downs' live racing history, Bert Allen won't be holding court at table 519 in the Jockey Club. His smile at the racetrack was only exceeded by his dedication to it. Scattered in my home office wall are winner's circle photos, many of the early years of Colonial, where he would frequently invite me in with Ferris' winners. I wish all of you a good evening in tonight's full fields of races and to Bert, a good night.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"One way to stop a runaway horse is to bet on him." - Jeffrey Bernard, British journalist
With today being the opening day of the meet at Colonial Downs, let's kick off this new feature with the first Colonial thoroughbred, Bulle Rock. This first thoroughbred in America was imported at the age of 21 in 1730 by James Patton for owner Samuel Gist of Hanover County. Bulle Rock was sired by one of the three "foundation" thoroughbreds, Darley Arabian. All thoroughbreds descend from Darley Arabian, Byerly Turk or Godolphin Arabian.
At the age of seven, he won a £30 Plate at York in England, his most notably win. It's not believed that Bulle Rock ever raced in America. A good thing considering that the miles long form on the turf that he exhibited in Europe, wouldn't have worked well in typical early American races that were a quarter of a mile down a dirt path.
MAKING RACING HAPPEN...
...is JD Thomas, the track superintendent at Colonial Downs.
JD began his working career at Paul Mellon's Rokeby Farm picking up manure at age 11. Now, as he has for the last three years, he contends in a race against time to establish Colonial's Bermuda turf, a warm season grass in time for June racing. "When I'm in Virginia, I'm home," quotes Thomas, an avid fisherman of the Pamunkey River, near where he lives in Hanover County.
EXOTIC BET OF THE DAY
RACE 4 - $.50 PICK 4
1,7,8,10,14 w/ 2,13 w/10,11,14 w/12