Notes From Afar

While Extravagant Kid won the Da Hoss and Mr. Jagermeister won the Chesapeake Stakes, it wasn’t the most impressive performance on the dirt Saturday night. That belonged to John Jones, who reset the track record at a mile to 1:34.28, breaking the mark of Chedi in 2011.

CLN 1 5d4cb9ec4979f.image alexa welch edlund

RTD photos by Alexa Welch Edlund

Nancy Lee Farms bred John Jones who is by Smarty Jones out of Chrusciki by Polish Numbers.  Laucey Gaudet trains the gelding for owner Matthew Schera.  Jockey Julio Correa delivered the mark-setting performance.

According to Nick Hahn writing for The Racing Biz “On-track wagering at Colonial Downs is still a work in progress, but management has responded to early complaints. An opening weekend matter of long lines at the windows was met with mobile wager takers and additional windows in the past week. In the upcoming week, look for more ambassadors to be more prevalent working with the many newcomers that have been showing up.”

“We made an adjustment from week one to week two, and we will make others from week two to week three,” explained Colonial’s Vice President of Racing, Jill Byrne.  “Using Ambassadors to help with automated machines and fan education, it’s something we need to continue to improve upon.  We want to listen to the customer, recognize the issue and address it.”

None of it was helped when weekend opener was according to Hahn “delayed on Thursday evening some 25 minutes when lightning kept striking within 10 miles of the grounds. The major deluge that struck nearly the entire greater Richmond area only generated minor rainfall in New Kent, though.

An hour and a half prior to the first race on Friday evening, the area finally received the rainfall it had been eluding.  A squall flushed out, reported in some nearby neighborhoods as much as 1.75 inches of rain in a half-hour timeframe.  When racing started, the turf was listed as “good” and the dirt “fast”.

CLN 25d4cb9ef52e72.imageThe rollercoaster weekend reached an apex on Friday evening when the overheating of elevator equipment triggered an alarm that forced the building to be cleared prior to the start of the sixth race.  Fortunately, track officials had reviewed a such a scenario with New Kent County Emergency Services.  Emergency vehicles were quickly on scene and arrived with sirens off and lights minimized, fortunate as there were nine thoroughbreds walking the Colonial Downs paddock, just over the fence from the parking lot.  With patrons filing out on the adjacent apron, excited thoroughbreds could have become an issue.  The response appeared to have been rehearsed.”

“New Kent Fire is a phenomenal group to work with,” “They are on our system, and we were erring on the side of caution.  It was an effort prepared a long time in advance.  New Kent was very prepared and professional on how to handle the situation.”

According to Hahn, after about a half-hour check of the building, it was reopened. While some patrons returned inside, many did not.

“People came out and then stayed out and continued to enjoy the evening,” said Byrne.

The reopening of Colonial Downs has yielded a winner in each race and a story on every face.  It has imported the horses of nationally known trainers and small outfits like.

CLN 5d4cb9edc42b2.image Alexa Welch Edlune RTD“I’m really pleased with the support of the horsemen.  It’s been a melting pot of racing.  They are coming from everywhere and running in the meet. I started seeing it leading up to this,” reported Byrne of the first two weeks.  “It’s been a fun product for fans and people to wager on.”

The total number of starters for the first six days were 496, averaging 8.5 starters per race, which coincidentally is the same number as 2012.

Total handle has been $7,001,822 for an average of $1,166,970.

As one would expect Kentucky leads the list of state-bred winner (21), followed by MD (9), FL (8), VA (restricted 6), VA (open 2), PA (2), IRE (2) and one each for WV, NY, LA, FR, TN and Ontario.  August 16th resembled the Southeast Conference football standings featuring four FL-bred winners, 2 KY-bred winners and one Tennessee-bred as well. — Glenn Petty

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