A parade of thoroughbreds approaches the starting gate, each steed jabbing the grass with its hooves as it prepares for the gun to sound. Meanwhile, from their seats in the grandstands or within the air-conditioned dining room, spectators get their first clear look at the pre-race procession, quickly making the final judgments (Which horse is the most physically imposing? Which one looks determined to win? Which jockey has the coolest hat?) they need before placing a wager. Finally, the gates swing open, and they're off.
Home of the Virginia Derby, Colonial Downs Racetrack upholds the age-old Southern tradition of horseracing with a pair of impressive tracks. Measuring at 1.25 miles, the dirt track is the second largest in the country—dwarfed only by Belmont Park—though most thoroughbred races take place on the Secretariat Turf Track, the widest grass track in all of North America. As Virginia's only site for pari-mutuel betting, Colonial Downs attracts droves of racing fans and wandering derby hats throughout the season. Once inside the gates, visitors can enjoy the sights and sounds from the outdoor grandstand or relax in one of Colonial Downs' club and suite seating options, most of which offer dining and betting services, TVs linked to off-track races, and unobstructed birds-eye views of either track outside.