State Secretary of Commerce joins Colonial Downs negotiations

Tidewater Review

In an effort to save the 2014 thoroughbred season, Colonial Downs President Ian Stewart and attorney James Weinberg are in talks with track owner Jeff Jacobs, of Jacobs Entertainment, Inc. and Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones.

Stewart and Weinberg met with members of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (VHBPA), Virginia Racing Commission (VRC) chairman J. Sargeant Reynolds, Jr. and vice-chair D.G. Van Clief, and Jones, said VRC Executive Director Bernard Hettel in a phone interview Monday.

"It is Mr. Jones' and the VRC's fervent desire to run live racing here in Virginia in 2014," Hettel said.

According to VHBPA executive director Frank Petramalo, the VRC meeting set for Friday morning was canceled without notice because the racetrack had planned on surrendering its license, which caught Jones' attention. He was unsure if the racetrack still intends to surrender the license at this point in the process.

As of early Monday afternoon, Hettel had not heard of "a final resolution to the impasse between the two parties."

Stewart refused to comment on the meeting.

Colonial Downs and VHBPA have been without a contract since February, halting thoroughbred racing at the track and thoroughbred betting at all of the off-site locations. Colonial Downs and the VHBPA have been unable to agree on the commission's request for a five-week, 25-day thoroughbred season this summer.

New Kent County is estimating a $402,200 loss in revenue if they're not able to salvage the 2014 thoroughbred season.

The Review will updating this story as information becomes available.

Martin can be reached by phone at 804-885-0040.

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