RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Horse racing returned to Colonial Downs on Monday a year after being halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was lots of excitement at the track in New Kent for Opening Day. A crowd of about 2,000 people watched the live racing from the grandstands.

For fans like Jeff Rouse of Suffolk, there’s lots of fond memories at Colonial Downs.

About 2,000 fans showed up for the first day of horse racing at Colonial Downs on July 19. Photo: Kerri O’Brien/8News

“I worked here opening day like 15, 16 years ago,” he said, adding that it’s a great venue. “It really is an awesome track for owners, trainers, jockeys, horses.”

Tom Kelly of Yorktown brought the entire family out. He said, “Opening day they’ve got some good trainers, some good jocks, it’s a good day to bring the family out and have a good day.”

From now until September 1, spectators can watch the action, place their bets and take a gamble on their luck.

One big difference this season: no weekend races. Post time is 1:45 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

John Marshall, Executive Vice President of Operations at Colonial Downs Group calls it matinee racing, a schedule they had to declare back in November when Virginia was still on lockdown.

“We opted for early week, early day to try to temper the live attendance,” he said.

Admission is free, and you can expect to see about nine races each day.

For more information, including to see the 2021 racing schedule, head over to the Colonial Downs website.