NEW KENT, VA (WWBT) - There may be more excitement going into this season at Colonial Downs than any of the 15 seasons prior.
After racing in either the afternoon or late afternoons for the first 15 years, a major lighting relocation project took place earlier this year. Most of the track's light standards were moved from outside the dirt track to inside the Secretariat turf course in order to illuminate the turf course versus the dirt track. Evening racing is expected to help on two fronts - to avoid early afternoon beach traffic and to stay away from peak of the afternoon heat.
Also, Track Superintendent J.D. Thomas oversaw the burn in March, which literally charred every piece of turf on Colonial's "bread & butter racing surface". Burning instead of cutting drove nutrients down into the surface, which helped the turf come back greener and plusher than it ever has.
Also, the 80th running of the Strawberry Hill Races will take place at Colonial Downs this Saturday June 2nd as the New Kent, Virginia track kicks off its annual summer thoroughbred race season. There are several new aspects to Strawberry Hill this year and they should please both long time "Hill" attendees and regular Colonial Downs race fans as well.
The race program itself will consist of the five regular steeplechase races "Hill" fans have been accustomed to, along with 7 flat races Colonial Downs regulars are used to, for a grand total of 12, the most ever offered on a "Hill" card. Betting will be permitted on all races with new wagering tents conveniently located in every tailgating area, and a pair of mini-jumbotrons in the first turn area so everyone can get a good view of the action.
Colonial Downs has introduced reasonably priced general admission tickets this year so more people can enjoy the day and won't need to take shuttle buses to the track from Richmond like in past years. For guests joining friends who already have a vehicle tailgating spot, they can simply purchase an advance general admission ticket for $9 ($12 day of) online at colonialdowns.com and bring a cooler, grill, and food to join in. Or, they can purchase that same general admission ticket and enjoy the races trackside or from covered grandstand seats where soft sided "Nascar type" coolers are encouraged. Food and beverages will still be available for sale thru the regular concession stands.
A unique new aspect to the 2012 Strawberry Hill races is an infield party pass. Instead of purchasing a vehicle tailgating pass, a more affordable $20 Infield Party Pass allows attendees to carry picnic and party supplies into an infield spot right along the inner rail.