'We're on our way' at Va.'s Colonial Downs Ceremony, construction happy sights for officials

December 19, 1996|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

As hopeful racing officials gathered yesterday for groundbreaking ceremonies at Colonial Downs in southern Virginia, workers continued erecting the steel framework of the track's grandstand.

"We're on our way. They're erecting steel," said Colonial Downs official Hugh R. Mellon.

Although some have expressed doubt that construction will be completed on time, Colonial Downs is scheduled to open June 29 next year and race thoroughbreds until Aug. 15. A 50-day harness meet is to follow.

As part of a proposed Maryland-Virginia thoroughbred racing circuit, Pimlico and Laurel Park would offer no live racing that month and a half. The Maryland Jockey Club, which is not an owner of Colonial Downs, would manage its thoroughbred racing.

The track's success depends on Maryland horsemen racing there. Many are reluctant to relocate for the short period or to ship their horses down congested Interstate 95 in the heat of summer. Colonial Downs is 25 miles east of Richmond off Interstate 64.

Mellon said Colonial Downs' officials plan on meeting with Maryland horsemen next month to try to allay their concerns.

Pub Date: 12/19/96

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