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Virginia horse track ends season early due to COVID-19 cases


A Virginia horse track has canceled the remainder of its racing schedule this year due to recent multiple COVID-19 cases.

Colonial Downs in New Kent County began races July 28, and was supposed to continue through Sept. 2.

In a statement late Friday, the Colonial Downs Group cited the recent test results, while acting out of an abundance of caution, for the cancellation.

Races set for Tuesday and Wednesday were canceled after an out-of-state jockey tested positive for the coronavirus, media outlets reported. Onsite testing at the track also revealed other positive cases.

“This was a difficult decision, but the best one for Virginia’s racing community,” the statement read. “We are already starting to make plans for the 2021 meet at Colonial Downs and are optimistic for a safe return in a better health environment for our nation, state and community.”

Races during the summer meet had been scheduled for Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The track attracted about 600 horses this year, or double the total of last year, Colonial Downs vice president Jill Byrne said last month. Daily purses fell below anticipated totals due to the virus’ effect on purse revenue sources, including a gambling emporium that Colonial Downs operates. COVID-19 restrictions also prevented outdoor seating at the races this year.

Colonial Downs Group made the decision while collaborating with the Virginia Department of Health, Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent Protection Association and Virginia Racing Commission, the group’s statement said.

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