Traditionally run the first Saturday in May, the races will move to May 29, with a dramatically-reduced in-person audience because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year, the event took place June 27 without spectators, versus the typical 50,000. The organizers provided free livestreamed coverage.
The 96th Virginia Gold Cup this spring will have a reduced number of pre-purchased rail spaces that will ring the entire racecourse. No corporate tents will be allowed. Rail spaces will be spread out and — at 12 feet wide by 20 feet deep — will be larger than normal.
Those attending must purchase a rail spot that comes with 10 tickets (10 wristbands, one reserved tailgate car pass and two general admission car passes). The cost is $675 for a rail space on Member's Hill and $500 for rail spaces on north or south areas around the racecourse.
No individual tickets will be sold.
Limited ticket packages can be purchased only calling 540-347-2612. Sales are on a first-come, first-served basis while, supplies last.
Attendees who have had regular rail spots year-after-year will not receive those spaces this year. And those who buy rail spaces this year will not receive any privileges for subsequent years. In 2022, the event will revert to its space reservations of 2019, as many people have held specific spaces for years.
“A final ruling on the event is expected from the governor a month before the race,” Virginia Gold Cup Association Chairman William Allison said. “Should something happen with Covid-19 between now and April 15, we will be able to adjust accordingly.
“In the interim, we'll accept space reservations, but they'll be very limited.”
COVID-19 restrictions will limit the availability of food at the event.
“All spectators will have to bring their own food and drink,” Dr. Allison added.
Some catering will be available for on-site pickup. See the website for details.
The pandemic has severely impacted the equine industry in Virginia, worth $2d billion annually. Virginia has more than 183,643 horses that provide approximately 38,874 jobs, according to a 2019 report.
“It's important to run these races, so that we can continue to help out the equine industry and provide some income,” Dr. Allison said. “So many jockeys, trainers and industry employees are dependent on these races.”
For more information visit vagoldcup.com. The website will be updated as additional information becomes available.
The Brown Advisory, the Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, the Virginia Thoroughbred Association, Virginia Equine Alliance and the Virginia Breeders Fund help with the event.