The one- and one-eighth-mile long turf course at Colonial Downs will bear the name of famous Virginia race horse Secretariat, Colonial Downs Group announced Monday.
All work to renovate the track has been completed, Colonial Downs spokesman Mark Hubbard said, and the Secretariat Turf Course will be ready for the opening day of live thoroughbred racing on Aug. 8. Construction crews worked to burn existing turf on the track and add new surfacing last year, according to a past Tidewater Review report.
Secretariat was born in Meadow Stable in Doswell in 1970, which was managed by Penny Chenery, according to a Colonial Downs news release. Three years later, he was a household name after becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years.
Kate Chenery Tweedy, Penny’s daughter, said her family is excited to see live horse racing return to the state and to share Secretariat’s legacy.
“The Secretariat Turf Course will no doubt witness great racing contests, something my mother and my grandfather would have especially loved to see,” Tweedy said, referring to Penny and Christopher Chenery, her grandfather and the original owner of Meadow Stable. “Our family also applauds Colonial Downs for their efforts to engage existing horse lovers and generate new racing fans.”
Colonial Downs Group’s decision to name the turf course after Secretariat came as part of a licensing agreement with the Tweedy family and Secretariat.com, the release states. The agreement also will result in a special Secretariat Day celebration on the racetrack, as well as equine welfare fundraising and other events.
“Colonial Downs is thrilled to partner with the Tweedy family and spotlight one of Virginia racing’s brightest stars, who was foaled less than 50 miles from our own gates,” Colonial Downs Vice President of Racing Operations Jill Byrne said in the release. “Secretariat’s enduring legacy continues to reverberate with new generations of fans, and it is only fitting that Colonial Downs recognizes this native son of the Commonwealth.”
Live thoroughbred horse racing will take place at Colonial Downs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from Aug. 8 to Sept. 7, including a daytime race on Labor Day and the Virginia Derby on Aug. 31.
Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.