Virginia horseplayers wagered a record $6.7 million on the recently completed 34-day meet at Colonial Downs in New Kent County, but heavy, persistent rains led to 13 days without use of the turf courses and a decline in popularity with out-of-state bettors.
"We were off the turf 13 times, and a sloppy track and scratches don't attract bettors," said Colonial Downs General Manager John Mooney. "On-track handle was up; attendance was up. Overall, considering the terrible weather we had, it wasn't too bad a meeting."
The Colonial Downs simulcast signal attracted $27.4 million this year, down from a record $29.5 million in 2003 even though the track carded four more days of racing this year.
The inaugural "Virginia Million," which featured the $750,000 Virginia Derby plus two other important stakes races, set a record July 10 with a total handle of nearly $3.1 million, far surpassing the prior Virginia Derby record of nearly $2.48 million last year.
"All in all, it should come out profitable," Mooney said of the meet.
Jockey Ryan Fogelsonger won the meet riding title for the second straight year with 53 victories in 204 mounts. Fogelsonger, 22, of Silver Spring, will ride at the Pimlico meet, which begins Saturday. Phil Schoenthal, who works for the country's leading owner, Michael Gill, led all trainers with 22 wins.
-- John Scheinman