Virginia regulators have officially approved a new license for Colonial Downs, clearing the way for live horse racing to return next summer.
On Thursday, the Virginia Racing Commission signed off on agreements that will bring 15 Thoroughbred racing days to the New Kent County track in 2019. The track will host 30 race days in 2020.
The first race day will be Aug. 8, according to Colonial Downs. The high-profile Virginia Derby will be Aug. 31, and the race season will conclude Sept. 7.
“We are already making significant progress preparing Colonial Downs to evolve into one of the country’s premier race meets,” said John Marshall, Colonial Downs’ general manager, in a news release.
Four years ago, the track’s original owner, Jacobs Entertainment, became locked in a financial dispute with the horsemen’s groups that run the races. Jeff Jacobs of Jacobs Entertainment eventually surrendered the track’s license, which led to its closure in 2014.
“It has been a long four years waiting for this day,” said Debbie Easter, president of the Virginia Equine Alliance.