Bobby Zen

During its nine-week 2024 meet, Colonial Downs will offer more than $2.4 million in non-stakes purses to horses who are Virginia Certified and the track’s first condition book features 46 Virginia-restricted races. Any horse that maintained residency in Virginia for at least a six-month consecutive period prior to Dec. 31 of its 2-year-old year qualifies.

“We often hear from owners and trainers who did not know their horse qualifies for our Virginia Restricted races,” said Gary Palmisano, Executive Director of Racing for Churchill Downs. “The rules are unique to what you find in other states in that the groundwork to become eligible is done early in a horse’s career, so horses claimed or bought at auction may in fact be eligible unbeknownst to the current connections. I would just encourage trainers and owners to double check their eligibility so that they can take advantage of this fantastic opportunity.”

To check on a horse’s eligibility, click here. The list is sorted by trainer and can be searched by horse’s name, dam’s name and date of birth.

Created in 2016 by the Virginia Thoroughbred Association, the Virginia Certified program incentivizes horsemen to raise and train their Thoroughbreds in the Commonwealth. In a recently conducted economic study, it was found that the program has generated $86.2 million in economic benefits for the state.

“What this has done is save our industry’s infrastructure in Virginia,” said Debbie Easter, executive director of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association. “Our farms were going away. Our training centers and our farms that raise young horses were going away. We were losing veterinarians, blacksmiths, everyone you need for the horse industry. We designed this certified program with hopes of bringing 400 horses to Virginia each foal crop. It is bringing more like 800 to 900. It’s been a huge savior to our farms.”

The Virginia Certified program has awarded $14.6 million to owners since 2016. The Virginia Owner’s Purse Bonus awards owners of Virginia-bred and Virginia-sired horses a 50% purse bonus for horses finishing first through fourth in all open races. When a Virginia-Restricted horse wins an open company race, the Virginia Developer’s Purse Bonus offers up to a 25% purse bonus to that horse’s developer (the owner of the horse when it makes its first lifetime start).

“Our farms are hiring people, they’re making capital improvements, they’re able to raise their rates,” Easter said. “Virginia used to be one of the largest breeding states in the nation, but when we began this program, we were down to about 100 foals a year. In these seven years that we’ve been registering certified horses, we’ve gotten over 5,000 horses in our program. We’ve put the same amount of certified horses on farms in Virginia as the breeding program has over the last 20 years. These are the beautiful things about what we’re doing.”

Those 5,000 and counting Virginia Certified horses are eligible to enter in the Virginia Restricted races at Colonial Downs, and the purses are run for 15% more than the open company races.

Opening day at Colonial Downs is July 11.

The post $2.4 Million on Offer at Colonial Downs for VA-Certified Runners appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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