After failed negotiations, new uses proposed for Colonial Downs

With another round of failed negotiations behind Colonial Downs and the Virginia horsemen, track owner Jeff Jacobs is working with the New Kent County Board of Supervisors to find a new use for the $80 million investment.

A golf course is one of his suggestions.

"We are exploring alternatives, and one might be to bundle a new golf course community with the two courses already there and begin to market New Kent as a golf destination," said Colonial Downs president Stan Guidroz, after the Sept. 9 Virginia Racing Commission meeting.

At the meeting, Guidroz informed the commission of the failed negotiations between the track and the Virginia Equine Alliance.

The alliance is a non-profit group of horse racing associations which aims to promote and expand horse racing and breeding in Virginia. 

Guidroz also laid one more offer on the table -- this time to the racing commission.

On behalf of Jacobs, Guidroz proposed that the racing commission take $1 million from the Virginia Equine Alliance to cover half of the $2 million cost of maintaining the New Kent track.

Along with the money, Guidroz asked for the racing commission to support the Old Dominion Thoroughbred Association, a horsemen's group Jacobs created in October, and which has failed to receive any type of recognition from the commission.

"If the VRC wants the track in New Kent to remain open it needs to take proactive steps to help Colonial Downs stabilize operations and cash flow as we work to rebuild our business," Guidroz said.

But financing and approving a new horsemen's group brings other issues for the Virginia horse racing industry.

For one, it's not legal, since the racing commission recognized the Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association as the majority horsemen's group on July 1, said J. Sargeant Reynolds Jr., chairman of the racing commission.

"I think legally if Mr. Jacobs wants to have his own horsemen's group, he'll have to go fund it by himself," Reynolds said. "I don't think that it's lawful for us to take Virginia Equine Alliance money and go give it to the Old Dominion Horsemen's Association so (Jacobs) can go run his races. That just doesn't work."

Mayfield can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828. 

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