Colonial Downs' Peterson steps down as president Start-up task complete, he'll return to consulting

December 14, 1997|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Colonial Downs president O. J. "Jim" Peterson has resigned, noting that his job as overseer of the start-up at the first Virginia thoroughbred track has been completed.

"I really didn't sign on for too long. It was to try to help them get everything under way," Peterson said yesterday. "Now I can get back to enjoying myself and running my little consulting company."

Peterson ended his 3 1/2 -year association with the Maryland Jockey Club, which operated Colonial Downs during a successful maiden meet.

He came to Maryland in April 1994 as the Jockey Club's chief financial officer, later resigning that position to go to his homestate.

"We [Virginia] have completed all four of our allowable OTBs. The race track is finished and everything is running fairly efficiently," he said.

"To me, it's amazing that in 20 months we have run one highly regarded thoroughbred meeting, achieved the Breeders' Crown [harness racing's championship series next fall] and achieved a fan base. To me, we've had a dramatic success."

Peterson said the only drawback in Virginia so far is the inability to get a referendum passed for two additional off-track betting sites.

The next thoroughbred meet at Colonial Downs is tentatively set to start Sept. 7, 1998.

"There has been talk of running in July and August but it takes two weeks to get prepared after the harness meet and two

weeks to prepare for the Breeders' Crown, so there isn't much leeway on dates," said Peterson.

Virginia dates are also subject to conflict with other tracks' running and the Maryland state fair meet, which ends on Labor Day. Next year that is Sept. 7.

Peterson said he will remain associated with racing only through the horses he owns.

Pub Date: 12/14/97

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