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May 1, 2013

88th Virginia Gold Cup will feature first legal betting

Video/Steve Wheat
VIDEO: Dr. Will Allison and Bernie Hettel explain the pari-mutuel kiosks.
One of the nation’s largest steeplechase races celebrates its 88th anniversary this Saturday, May 4.

For the first time, pari-mutuel betting on the races will take place Saturday. The Virginia Gold Cup (and the International Gold Cup in October) are the only two steeplechases in the state to offer the betting.

United Tote, affiliated with Churchill Downs of Kentucky, has installed 11 betting kiosks in tents at Great Meadow near The Plains.

Similar to ATMs, the kiosks allow bettors to select horses and enter cash — with exact amounts only from $2 to $50,000 — to place their wagers. The odds and potential winnings adjust with the betting.

Washington Fox 5 TV broadcast from Great Meadow on Wednesday morning as Gold Cup Chairman William H. Allison and Virginia Racing Commission Executive Secretary Bernard J. Hettel explained the pari-mutuel kiosks.

Channel 5’s Holly Morris also interviewed jockeys and trainers for extensive preview segments during the morning news.

Approximately 50,000 people in their race-day finest will gather Saturday to socialize and watch some of the best horses in the world compete over hurdles, timber and on the flat.

Gates will open at 10 a.m., with pre-race entertainment — including the Jack Russell Terrier Races — starting at 11:15 a.m. The first of seven horse races gets underway at 1:15 p.m. General admission car passes are $85 (allows entry of car and up to six occupants). Tickets are available at Harris Teeter stores and discounted with a Harris Teeter VIC card.

“We’re pretty much sold out,” said Gold Cup Executive Director Diane Jones, predicting a big turnout and perfect weather.

The forecast calls for sun and a high temperature of 71.
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