NEW KENT COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia horse racing fans are in for an exciting year. Three internationally-renowned Thoroughbred stakes races will be moved to Virginia next year, the Office of the Governor announced on Wednesday.

After approval from the American Graded Stakes Committee, the Grade 1 Arlington Million, Beverly D. Stakes and the Grade 2 Secretariat Stakes will soon run at Colonial Downs in New Kent. This shift is particularly notable for the Secretariat Stakes, which will debut in the legendary horse’s native Virginia during the 50th anniversary of his historic Triple Crown-winning season.

Next year’s meet will be the first at Colonial Downs under the operation of its new owners, Churchill Downs Incorporated. The shift to Colonial Downs comes after Churchill Downs sold Arlington International Racecourse near Chicago last year, according to Horse Racing Nation.

“It is an incredible honor to continue the legacy of these exceptional races by hosting them in our Commonwealth,” Governor Glenn Youngkin said. “I am deeply committed to growing our equine industry and as we work to revive the rich traditions of this sport in Virginia, these stakes races will accelerate our progress and ignite excitement for the fans.”

The relocation of these races follows two other announcements from Colonial Downs. After approval from the Virginia Racing Commission, there will be 27 live race dates at Colonial Downs during the 2023 meet, which will be held July 13 through Sept. 9.

Colonial Downs also announced last week that they will modify their typical live race days to Thursday, Friday and Saturday as opposed to the traditional Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday schedule. This is to make horse racing more accessible both for Virginians and outside visitors.

“We are grateful to Churchill Downs for the emphasis they have put on bringing world-class races to Virginia which give jockeys, breeders and trainers more opportunities to showcase the best of Virginia’s equine industry,” Debbie Easter, President of the Virginia Equine Alliance, added. “Governor Youngkin’s involvement and efforts to secure these three races, in particular, should be commended as we collectively work to ensure a bright future for horse racing in the Commonwealth.”