UPDATE: The Virginia Racing Commission (VRC) has canceled its meeting Thursday with Colonial Downs and the Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (VHBPA) to give the two sides more time to negotiate, according to Frank Petramalo, Jr., executive director of the horsemen's association.
"It is a disappointment that an agreement has not been reached. But, the track and the horse owners are talking, and we are in contact with both sides on an almost daily basis," said VRC member Stran Trout.
"Horse breeding and racing are important to Virginia and to New Kent County, and all of us are looking for a positive outcome."
On Monday, VRC scheduled a special meeting for Thursday, May 22 at 10 a.m. Instead, Colonial Downs and the VHBPA will meet privately at 11 a.m., Petramalo explained in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.
Although Petramalo said he's "not optimistic" that the two sides will reach an agreement Thursday, Trout remains positive that a 2014 thoroughbred season could still happen in New Kent.
"...The result should be a delayed but good meet in 2014 and even better meets in future years," Trout said.
The VRC has not rescheduled the meeting originally set for Thursday, but Petramalo expects it will be held early next week.
Phone calls Wednesday to Colonial Downs have not yet been returned.
The Tidewater Review will be updating this article as soon as information becomes available.
Virginia Racing Commission extended contract deadline on Monday
NEW KENT – Colonial Downs and the Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (VHBPA) have until Thursday to sign a contract setting the 2014 thoroughbred racing season.
“It sounds like you all obviously need more time,” said Virginia Racing Commission (VRC) Chairman J. Sargeant Reynolds, Jr. Monday afternoon.
The VRC met Monday morning, where the VHBPA and Colonial Downs announced they had not yet come to an agreement on the commission’s request for a five-week, 25-day thoroughbred season this summer.
Frank Petramalo, Jr., executive director of the horsemen's association, said that the two parties were in the process of discussing spreading out the 25 days between two months and only racing on weekends.
However, Petramalo said last week that the racetrack wanted a $1.5 million reimbursement from the association for lost revenue since the off-track betting sites closed, and the horsemen's association has lost an estimated $800,000 since the shutdown.
The off-track betting facilities were shut down after arguments over the length of the thoroughbred season led to the contract’s expiration in January.
The VRC recessed Monday morning so that the two parties could discuss the contract further. They reconvened at 1 p.m. and announced yet again a contract had not been signed.
Despite the disagreement, Reynolds suggested that the VRC hold a special meeting on Thursday, May 22 at 10 a.m. to “give the two sides time to work things out.”
“Quite frankly, I expected you all to have an agreement this morning. I knew you all were close [but] obviously I understand there are some complicated issues left.”
Reynolds’ decision was met with audible frustration from those in attendance, including horsemen and breeders.