Virginia Race Tracks: Where to Bet on Horse Races in VA

Learn about Virginia's race tracks and legal horse race betting options

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With its rich history and tradition, the Old Dominion state boasts some of the most renowned land-based horse race tracks in the country. As US gambling laws by state vary, we’ll take a look at the rules in your home state. In Virginia, you’ll find that pari mutuel betting, a system in which all bets of a particular type are placed together in a pool, is entirely legal and widely enjoyed. Additionally, the state allows simulcasting at off-track betting facilities, giving you the chance to place your wagers on races happening across the nation, right from the comfort of your local betting parlor.

Most Popular Virginia Race Tracks

Colonial Downs Racetrack

Address: 10515 Colonial Downs Parkway, New Kent, Virginia 23124
Phone: 804-966-7223

At Colonial Downs Racetrack between July and September, the Virginia racing season is in full swing with live thoroughbred races every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Before the thoroughbred races begin, you can enjoy non-wagering steeplechase races. This racetrack is known for hosting popular races like the Virginia Oaks and the Virginia Derby.

The 1 and 1/4-mile-long racetrack offers free admission, giving you access to trackside views at ground level. For a more elevated experience, you can opt for a grandstand seat among the 6,000 available, or a more intimate setting in the 500-seat clubhouse.

Colonial Downs

Colonial Downs caters to all types of bets including Show, Win, Place, Quinella, Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta, Daily Double, and more. They also offer simulcast wagering on nationwide races, so you can join in on the action from coast to coast.

Beyond the races, the racetrack boasts additional amenities such as Rosie’s Gaming Emporium, which features 600+ historical horse racing machines. When hunger strikes, you can head to Rosie’s Kitchen for classic American fare, the Whiskey Bar for a relaxing drink, or 1609 for a taste of Southern cuisine.

Great Meadow Steeplechase Course

Address: 5089 Old Tavern Road, The Plains, Virginia 20198
Phone: 540-253-5000

Set on 374-acre land, the Great Meadow Steeplechase Course hosts two steeplechase events each year, including the esteemed Virginia Gold Cup and International Gold Cup. As you place your bets and cheer on the racers, you’ll be part of a crowd of 200,000 visitors that flock here annually.

Great Meadow

But it’s not just about the races. With polo matches, foot races, cultural fairs, and spectacular Independence Day fireworks, your visit to Great Meadow offers a diverse, action-packed experience. Plus, by supporting the Great Meadow Foundation, you’re helping to preserve open space and advance equestrian sport.

Shenandoah Downs

Address: 300 Fairground Road, Woodstock, Virginia 22664
Phone: 540-459-4807

With the racing season spanning from April to May and September to November, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to place your bets and cheer on your favorite horses in live racing. The best part is that entry to the racetrack is free and so is parking.

Shenandoah Downs

This family-friendly venue offers more than just Virginia horse racing. During the year, you can enjoy Autumnfest, complete with a BBQ, live music, a log-splitting competition, and more. Don’t miss the miniature horse races, family days, and live music on the concert stage. Shenandoah Downs is more than a racetrack, it’s a hub of entertainment for all ages.

List of All Virginia Race Tracks

Check out this comprehensive list of all the Virginia race tracks that host horse races.

RacetrackAddressPhone NumberBetting Allowed?
Colonial Downs Racetrack10515 Colonial Downs Parkway, New Kent, Virginia 23124804-966-7223Yes
Great Meadow Steeplechase Course5089 Old Tavern Road, The Plains, Virginia 20198540-253-5000Yes
Shenandoah Downs300 Fairground Road, Woodstock, Virginia 22664540-459-4807Yes

Simulcast Wagering in Virginia

Thanks to the state’s progressive gambling laws, simulcast wagering is legal and widely available throughout Virginia. This means you can enjoy the thrill of the race, even when you can’t be there in person. Here’s our list of simulcast wagering locations in the state.

Betting LocationAddress
Buckets Bar & Grill228 North Battlefield Blvd, Chesapeake, VA 23320
Breakers Sports Grille9127 W Broad St, Henrico, VA 23294
Rosie’s Game Room2360 Virginia Ave, Collinsville, VA 24078
Rosie’s in Hampton1996 Power Plant Pkwy, Hampton, VA 23666
Rosie’s in Dumfries18069 E Triangle Shopping Plaza, Dumfries, VA 22026
Rosie’s in Richmond6807 Midlothian Turnpike, Richmond, VA 23225
Rosie’s in Emporia700 W Atlantic St, Emporia, VA 23847
Rosie’s in Vinton1135 Vinyard Rd, Vinton, VA 24179

Popular Horse Races in Virginia with Dates

We’ve compiled a list of Virginia horse racing events that happen each year, including the dates, so you don’t miss out.

RacesRacing DatesLocation
Virginia OaksAugustColonial Downs
Virginia DerbySeptemberColonial Downs
Virginia Gold CupMayGreat Meadow
International Gold CupOctoberGreat Meadow

Types of Horse Betting in Virginia

In Virginia, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to legal horse betting. You can indulge in pari mutuel betting, where all bets of a particular type are placed together in a pool. Try your luck with ‘Show, Win, Place’ wagers, or dive into more complex bets like ‘Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta, Daily Double, Quinella, and Pick 3’.

You’re not limited to just one type of horse either. Both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing are open for your wagering pleasure. The excitement doesn’t stop there, as you can also bet on different race types, including Thoroughbred betting and Harness racing.

Other Types of Gambling in Virginia

Let’s review all there is to know about Virginia gambling laws and other forms of gambling in the state:

History of Virginia Horse Racing

Pari mutuel wagering was legalized in 1988 following a voter referendum, paving the way for a more organized Virginia horse racing industry. In 1994, the first racetrack license was issued to Colonial Downs, marking a significant milestone in the state’s horse racing history.

Simulcasting at off-track betting facilities is legal in Virginia, allowing you to place bets on races happening elsewhere. You can also place advance deposit wagering through licensed online racebooks. The state boasts a modest, yet well-rounded Virginia horse racing industry, featuring three racetracks. One host’s thoroughbred racing, another caters to harness racing, and the third hosts two annual steeplechase races.

In 2018, Virginia passed HB1609, legalizing historical horse racing machines at Virginia race tracks and their associated OTBs. That same year, the PASPA: Sports Protection Act was repealed, further liberalizing the state’s betting landscape.

Virginia Gambling FAQ

Is it legal to bet on Virginia horse racing?

Horse racing betting is completely safe and legal in Virginia. You can participate in pari mutuel wagering, which was legalized in 1988. In addition, you can bet on races happening elsewhere through simulcasting at off-track betting facilities. You’re also allowed to place advance deposit wagering through licensed online racebooks.

Can I place bets on races held in other states?

Betting on horse races that are being held in other states is not only legal but also widely accessible in Virginia. This is possible through simulcast wagering, which allows you to place bets on races happening elsewhere. You can do this at one of the several simulcast wagering facilities available in the state.

What’s the biggest horse race track in Virginia?

The largest horse race track in Virginia is Colonial Downs. It’s not just the largest in the state, but it’s also one of the largest in the country. With a 1 1/4 mile dirt track and a 180-foot-wide turf course, it offers a premier racing experience. You can enjoy live thoroughbred racing there during the summer season.

Is online horse racing betting legal in Virginia?

Yes, online horse racing and betting are perfectly legal in Virginia. This is possible thanks to advance deposit wagering, which is legal in the state. You can place your bets through licensed online racebooks. This allows you to wager on races from the comfort of your own home.

What are my horse racing betting options in Virginia?

You have plenty of options to bet on Virginia horse racing events. You can go to Virginia race tracks in person or alternatively, you can bet online using advance deposit wagering apps. These platforms allow you to wager on races from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection.

What’s the legal age for betting on horse races in Virginia?

In Virginia, the minimum gambling age for betting on horses is 18 years old. So, if you are 18 or older, you are legally allowed to place bets on horse racing events in the state. Remember to practice responsible gambling.

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