At some point in the 1850’s, the president of the Richmond Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad Company, Edwin Robinson, established a racecourse in Ashland. The only indication left of the racecourse is in a street name, “Race Course Street” in the southwest part of town, perpendicular to the railroad tracks.
Races were held at the Ashland Racecourse as late as spring 1860. Within a month of this ad, published in the Richmond Dispatch, May 28, 1860, the racecourse was declared bankrupt and the Mr. Robinson, lost his job as President of the RF&P. Apparently, Mr. Robinson had failed to inform the directors of the RF&P of his plans to build and operate the racecourse, so when it failed, he was forced to resign in shame. By mid 1861, the racecourse land was transformed into training grounds for the Confederate Cavalry.
An eyewitness at the time recounted:
In 1860 the writer witnessed the meeting of the jockey club and a series of races of the Ashland course. Hundreds of men and women came in special trains from Richmond to witness the races; the grounds about the club-house and the grand stand were crowded, where was a scene of noise and excitement of betting; the intervals between the races saw the gambling saloons below the grandstand filled to overflowing, where a varied array of green tables afforded a ready means of disposing of any surplus winnings on the races, or of increasing possible losses, at faro, monte, spout, thimble-rig, and such other appliances of the Evil One…(from Randolph-Macon Monthly, 1882, by anonymous author).