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(WOODSTOCK, VA --- 8/25/2020) ---- The inaugural harness racing "VHHA Matinee Meet" -- which replaces the annual Shenandoah County Fair season this year --- will be held September 2 - 4 with a daily post time of 2:00 PM.   The Fair itself, which normally is held over a four-day period in the week leading up to Labor Day weekend, was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic. The Virginia Harness Horse Association will instead present a three-day campaign.   Entries will be accepted Monday August 31 for the Wednesday (Sept. 2) card, Tuesday September 1 for the Thursday (Sept. 3) card and Wednesday September 2 for the Friday (Sept. 4) program. A condition sheet is online at shenandoahdowns.com and vhha.net. Electronic entries are encouraged. Purses per race will range from $2,000 - $2,500.   The meet is USTA sanctioned and will feature maximum five horse fields. There are no entry fees and no double heats.   The barn area opens Monday August 31. Horsemen will need to present a Coggins and health certificate at the stable gate for all horses that compete. Standard precautionary Covid-related measures will be in place and are available at both websites. All individuals will be asked several health questions at the stable gate and forehead temperatures will be taken. If anyone registers a 100.4 temperature or higher, the vehicle and all passengers will be turned away.   "I'm glad that the VHHA is able to sponsor these races and continue the long-standing tradition of harness races in Woodstock this time of year," said Debbie Warnick, VHHA Executive Director. "It's great that horsemen will have this opportunity to race their horses since all the tracks were closed so long this spring."   A five-week Shenandoah Downs meet will begin two weeks after the VHHA Matinee Meet and will be held from September 18 - October 17 with racing every Friday and Saturday at 2 PM. The barn area for the "Downs" session will open Monday September 14.   Darrell Wood

WOODSTOCK, VA -  Even though the upcoming harness race meet at Shenandoah Downs will be run without spectators and wagering this year due to Covid-related precautions, track officials have come up with a unique way to create a "once in a lifetime" experience for ten lucky harness racing fans.   Initially, plans were in place to hold the fall campaign --- which runs from September 18 - October 17 --- without a track announcer. Since Shenandoah Downs does not simulcast their signal to other betting outlets and will race without fans in the stands, it seemed like a natural way to proceed.   At a recent staff planning meeting though, Tom Eshelman, General Manager of the Shenandoah County Fair, brought up an idea about giving aspiring race callers --- that may not ever get the chance to call a race card in an actual setting --- a chance to fulfill that ambition. The idea was met with unanimous approval.   That opportunity is available now for anyone that has previous announcing skills, has aspirations of becoming a race caller, is a horse racing fan --- or none of the above. The lucky opportunists will get to announce a complete afternoon race program over the microphone and via Shenandoah's live video streaming feed. They will be situated near two judges, a chart caller and a camera operator in the crow's nest overlooking the start/finish line. They will be the "voice of harness racing in the Shenandoah Valley" for several hours.   Post time at the fifth annual meet is set for 2:00 PM every Friday and Saturday. Approximately $50,000 in purse money will be distributed daily on average. Up to eight horses compete in each race over Shenandoah's half mile oval. A ten-race program generally lasts several hours.   "We're not going to throw anybody to the wolves," said Shenandoah's Darrell Wood. "We'll give each race caller an introductory chalk talk, make sure they have a comfort level and check in periodically, but otherwise they will be on their own."   Over the past four years, Shenandoah has employed a rotating cast of announcers including Roger Huston, Mike Bozich, Pete Medhurst and Scott Warren among others. Some use binoculars and some don't. "Instead of having a single announcer for the meet, we like to give our fans a different flavor and style each week."   That concept has been well received. And it will extend to a slate of amateur callers this fall. "I don't know what to expect," said Wood. "I'm not sure if we'll have a single person that is interested or if we'll have thirty responses. There is no compensation or perks, just a unique opportunity."   Callers chosen will have to follow the same Covid-related procedures that apply to horsemen and racing personnel. Races take place at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds in Woodstock, Virginia. The track is located at Exit 283 off I-81, halfway between Winchester and Harrisonburg. Interested candidates can e-mail drrllwd@hotmail.com for more details or visit shenandoahdowns.com.   by Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs

WOODSTOCK, VA -- Hareness racing horse people wishing to race and stable at Shenandoah Downs for the upcoming "spectator-free" fall racing season will need to submit a racing application to the Virginia Harness Horse Association (VHHA) by August 9.   The five-week campaign will be held from September 18 - October 17 with racing every Friday and Saturday at 2 PM. The stable area will open on Monday September 14 and entries will be taken every Tuesday and Wednesday. The Virginia Breeder's elimination races will be contested the first three Saturdays of the meet --- three-year-olds on September 19, two-year-olds on September 26 and finals for both age groups on October 3.   Racing applications are available at vhha.net and shenandoahdowns.com.   Shenandoah Downs is located at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds in Woodstock, halfway between Harrisonburg and Winchester off I-81 at Exit 283.   Prior to the Shenandoah Downs season, a three-day "VHHA Matinee Meet" will be held September 2 - 4 at the same venue. That campaign will replace the regular Shenandoah County Fair race season this year since the Fair was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.   For more information on either meet, call Debbie Warnick at 443-463-0917 or e-mail her at nihilator40@msn.com.   by Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs  

WOODSTOCK, VA - Shenandoah Downs officials announced several changes to the fifth annual fall harness racing season in Woodstock which will still take place as scheduled from September 18 - October 17.   Track officials previously announced that wagering would not be available due to safety concerns. Additionally, the meet will now be run without spectators.   "Given the current Covid-19 circumstances and restrictions, we felt the best way to proceed this year was to focus our energies on providing a safe meet for horsemen," said Jeb Hannum, Executive Director of the Virginia Equine Alliance. "Shenandoah Downs is a unique meet. Fans not only support the meet in great numbers but create an exciting atmosphere by cheering for horses that win and even those that don't win. I know they will be disappointed to hear but the decision was made with the safety of fans and participants in mind. We plan to be back to normal in 2021."   Even though they can't attend in person, fans will still be able to enjoy the races via video streaming at www.shenandoahdowns.com. Post times have been adjusted as well. Both Friday and Saturday programs will start at 2 PM to remain consistent.   On a normal year, the Shenandoah County Fair harness races would precede the Shenandoah Downs race season by two weeks. Four programs had traditionally been conducted during the Fair, which usually ends the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. One week ago, the Fair itself fell victim to the Covid pandemic and was cancelled for 2020.   Even though the Fair won't be held, the Virginia Harness Horsemen's Association decided to move forward and conduct a three-day campaign during that same time frame called the "VHHA Matinee Meet". Races will be held Wednesday September 2, Thursday September 3 and Friday September 4 at 2 PM. The same protocol will apply --- races will not be open to spectators. "We're considering it a prep meet for the five-week extended season," said Dee Lineweaver, who serves as Racing Secretary for both. "We're happy to provide horsemen with another three racing opportunities in this challenging year."   Racing applications for the Shenandoah Downs meet are now available at www.vhha.net and at the track's website. They are due by August 9. For details on either meet, call Debbie Warnick at 443-463-0917.   by Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs

WOODSTOCK, VA -- The fifth annual harness racing season at Shenandoah Downs will kick off September 18 and continue through October 17 with racing scheduled every Friday at 3:30 PM and Saturday at 2:00 PM. Parking and admission are free and the races are family friendly.   Shenandoah may be one of the few tracks in the country whose planned purse distribution and season length will not be affected by the Covid pandemic. Between $45,000 - $50,000 in purse monies will be given away on average daily, and the meet will extend over five weekends, as planned initially.   A slate of Virginia Breeder's elimination and championship races will be held over three consecutive Saturdays at their announced purse levels. Three-year-old elims for pacers and trotters of both sexes will be contested on September 19 followed by two-year-old elims the next Saturday. The annual Championship showcase program will be held October 3 for both age groups and feature $40,000-plus purses for each of those eight different finals. A series of Virginia Breeder's aged stakes will complement the freshmen and sophomore stakes that afternoon.   Due to potential Covid-related restrictions, there will not be wagering on the races this year. "We want to err on the side of caution," said Virginia Harness Horseman's Association Executive Director Debbie Warnick. "At this point, we can only have limited attendance at the races and feel it is in the best interest of everyone to not offer wagering. Betting stations are only available in a small concourse area and we don't think social distancing guidelines could safely be adhered to with a constant flow of traffic heading to and from the betting area each race."   Shenandoah Downs does not uplink its races to simulcast locations yet and relies solely on fans betting at the track. Plans are for pari-mutuel wagering to resume in 2021.   Racing applications for horsemen are now available on line at vhha.net and shenandoahdowns.com and must be turned in by August 9. The barn area will open Monday September 14 and the track will be open for training beginning that day. Draws will take place on Tuesday for Friday cards and on Wednesday for Saturday programs. Dee Lineweaver returns as Director of Racing for the third straight season.   Shenandoah Downs is located in Woodstock, Virginia, halfway between Harrisonburg and Winchester off I-81 at Exit 283 in the scenic Shenandoah Valley. For questions, call Debbie Warnick at 443-463-0917.   Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs    

Amanda Jackson is a registered nurse who works in the recovery room at Saint Francis Medical Center in the Brandermill section of south Richmond by day, and is a harness racing trainer/breeder/owner on other parts of the days, evenings, weekends and holidays when she is not working.   She has been active in Virginia's pari-mutuel harness racing circuit since 2008 when her Hillbilly Haven Farm came into existence.   The 14 acre property in Burkeville is adjacent to a 120 acre standardbred farm her parents own.   A series of dirt paths snake through the woods and connect the two farms together, which are accessible by durable golf cart or harness jog cart, including horse.   A 3/8ths mile training track is situated between both.   Jackson, whose family relocated to Burkeville when she was young, was born in Hurley, Virginia. Even though they didn't race horses at a pari-mutuel circuit then, horses were part of her upbringing. "We used to get standardbreds after their racing career and break them to ride and re-sell them, and keep some of them," she said. "In the mountains, under saddle races are really popular especially in places like Jamestown, Tennessee. There is a great market for that believe it or not."   Amanda Jackson   Her interest in racing began when one of the horses they had showed good pedigree and history. "I reached out to Dr. Charlie Dunavant, who was President of the Virginia Harness Horse Association, to see what he thought. It all started from there. He got the ball rolling and got me going in the right direction. From that point I got a trainer's license and have been doing it since. With Doc's guidance, I bought my first horse named Take You There from a friend of Chuck Perry's and he won right away. It stuck with me immediately."   Her husband Randy was a conductor for Norfolk & Southern Railroad at the time and didn't have a backround with horses so the business started out with Jackson and her father, Tim Dotson. When the family moved to Burkeville, people in town referred to Tim as "hillbilly" since he came from the mountains. That nickname carried over to the farm moniker and to the name many of her horses have as well, from earlier years until today.     Randy has a trainers license now so between the trio, Amanda's son Adam and Tim's wife Sharon, it's become a family affair. "We do it together," she said. "We divide up duties based on who is working when. We get the horses going, get them jogged and clean the stalls. One day last week, Randy had to work early so I got my son up at 6 AM to help get two horses ready that I jogged before work. It is a collective effort."   Al and Katherine Smith are long time harness owners and fans, and know the Jackson family well. Two of their retired horses, Tom Bruce and Firm Fatale, are enjoying their golden years at Hillybilly Haven. "This family truly loves their animals and take incredible care of them," said Katherine. "They would do anything they could to help you out. I remember when Tim decided that Tom and Firm, as senior members of the farm, didn't really like eating from a bucket or ground feeder. So, he cut some trees from the place, treated them, and sunk the six foot sections into the ground to make waist high feeders for the oldsters so they didn't have to bend so far."   Hillbilly Camtastic and Hillbilly Heartache have each won a Virginia Breeder's Championship at Shenandoah Downs. Hillbilly Hardtimes won a Maryland Sire Stake final in 2012. Jackson has high hopes this year for a two-year-old colt named Hillbilly Nite Shift. Her father has a filly the same age named Hillbilly Fantasy. And her best horse to date has been Hillbilly Desire. "We have a whole list of names that could follow the word Hillbilly so when it's time to register a new horse, we run down the list and see what fits best. It makes the naming process fun."   As a two-year-old in 2011, Hillbilly Desire was 3-for-3 at the Colonial Downs meet before finishing third in the Breeder's Championships that year. In 2012, she went 4-for-6 there, set a lifetime mark of 1:52.0 and went on to win the Three-Year-Old Filly Pacing Championship. In 2013, she went 3-for-5 at Colonial. Over those three years, the daughter of Real Desire was 10 for 15 there, had three runner-ups and a third. The lone "out of the money" finish came in a distance race carded at 1 1/4 miles. At retirement after the '14 season, Hillbilly Desire had 20 wins from 58 starts and $108,323 in purse earnings.   "She is the name and face of Hillbilly Haven Farm," said Jackson. "She is still here, is an active broodmare and will die here. This will always be her home. It was very difficult to break her and very hard to get her to the races. She just gave you a thrill every time she raced. She liked to stay in the back of the field and come to the front late in the race. This may be crude to say," she added, "But because of her racing style, I felt like throwing up every time she was on the track competing!"   Jackson's favorite race memory also involves Hillbilly Desire, but it did not occur in Virginia. In 2012, right after winning the Breeder's Championship, she took her sophomore pacer to The Meadows (outside of Pittsburgh) to race in a $16,200 Fillies/Mares Preferred race. "She was an outsider there," recalled Jackson. "There was an attitude among folks there that horses coming from Colonial were overrated and would never do well there. It was a horrible rainy night and the track was sloppy but she ended up pulling the upset. Dave Palone drove her and she went from last to first. It was a great win."   Even though Al and Katherine Smith didn't own Hillbilly Desire, Al quickly developed a fondness for her. "She and I go back a long way," he said. "My "crush" on her started on September 16, 2011. That was the day she made her first lifetime pari-mutuel start and I had a $20 win ticket on her as she went off at 20-1. I watched every one of her races during her career and visited her often on the backside when she was racing at Colonial. We even purchased her first foal from Hillbilly Haven, and I still believe 'Desire' is one of the most beautful and talented pacing mares I have ever seen in person."     At Saint Francis Hospital, Jackson normally works three days a week, twelve hour shifts though she is on call other times. "I work in the recovery room so if you wake up from surgery, it's very possible I'll be the first person you see when you come to." With less surgery occurring during the covid-19 pandemic, Jackson helps out wherever needed now. "It's been difficult the last few months. I check patients in, take covid patients to ICU, take people's temperatures before they come in, and help deliver personal protective equipment wherever it's needed. Some days we have as many covid patients as Chippenham Medical Center. This has been quite an adjustment to the medical field."   Aside from work, horses remain her passion. "It's great to be able to look back and realize you helped make a horse what it is. You raised and broke the horse, saw it from its first day of life then got it to the track to see how good it could do. It's a huge accomplishment and very rewarding. We are a very small time operation here but are very lucky to be able to do what we do. My husband and I both have careers outside of horses which brings income in to help fund the whole operation."   Jackson will compete in the Virginia Breeder's Championships this fall at Shenandoah Downs. "I have high hopes for both my two (Hillbilly Nite Shift) and three-year-olds (Hillbilly Kisses)," she said. "The two-year-old is keeping up tit for tat with the older one. I've had very few two-year-olds in training that have been able to do that. He's got my juices flowing again. I'm pumped up."   The fall racing season in Woodstock is scheduled to run in September and October. This will be the fifth season there since the Virginia Equine Alliance invested $800,000 in a track surface renovation/upgrade in 2016. "It's a really good half mile track," said Jackson. "It has held up well and showed some good miles. I don't think people give it enough credit. It's also wonderful to see people standing trackside. The fans in the stands are so enthusiastic and cheer when horses turn for home. The whole atmosphere is great."   For more season information, visit shenandoahdowns.com. For information on the Virginia Breeder's and Certified-Residency programs, visit vhha.net.   By Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs  

(WOODSTOCK, VA ---- 4/23/20) ---- The Virginia Harness Horsemen's Association (VHHA) announced that the deadline to submit sustaining payments for two and three-year-old horses in the Virginia Breeder's Early Closer program, originally due on May 15, has been extended to July 15.   The fee is $200 per horse. Nomination payments ($200) were previously due on March 15 and declaration payments ($200) are due at time of entry. All races will be held during the fall pari-mutuel meet at Shenandoah Downs in Woodstock. Purses for prep/elimination races will be $4,000 and estimated purses for the finals will be $40,000, plus all nominating, sustaining and declaration fees.   Three-year-old eliminations are scheduled for Saturday September 19 while two-year-old elims will be held the following Saturday, September 26. The finals for both ages will be Saturday October 3.   Virginia-bred yearlings, which were to have been registered with the VHHA by May 15, will receive the same two month extension. That $25 fee, along with a nomination form and USTA certification, is now due by July 15.   For more information, visit vhha.net or call Debbie Warnick at 443-463-0917.     Darrell Wood (C: 804-338-4632)

Powhatan Plantation in King George is a Virginia farm/training center that is embracing the Virginia Harness Horse Association's (VHHA) new Certified Residency bonus initiative, which brings young horses into the state to be raised for a six month period of time before they turn two. A pool of $400,000 in bonus money is available for the 2019 foal crop with $600,000 for the 2020 crop. The incentive monies are distributed between the horses respective two and three-year-old campaigns.   Located 16 miles east of Fredericksburg and three miles west of Route 301, Powhatan is a 1,000 acre farm that was built in 1829. The property was purchased in 1952 by Raymond Guest, a former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, who owned, raced and bred thoroughbred horses in England, Ireland, France and the U.S.. Formerly a major agricultural center that traded with ships from England from its dock on the Rappahannock River, Guest designed and laid out a farm upon purchase based on his interest in thoroughbreds.   His racing resume is impressive. Guest is one of three horse owners in history to have won both the Epsom Derby (with Larkspur in '62) and the Grand National at Aintree (steeplechase with L'Escargot in '75). In the States, his Tom Rolfe won the Preakness Stakes in 1965 --- with jockey Ron Turcotte aboard --- and was named American Champion 3 Year Old Male Horse that year. In 1958, Guest served as President of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association. He was a past Chairman of the National Steeplechase & Hunt and also played polo in the "Golden Age of Polo" and was inducted into that sport's Hall of Fame.     Guest passed away in 1991 and his son Achille now lives in the property's main house which is currently undergoing renovations. The Plantation property itself includes a 3/4 mile oval training track, a main training barn, broodmare barn and a yearling barn. 600 of the acres feature well fenced pastures and paddocks. A long airstrip that divides the expansive complex allows horse owners to fly in. There are currently 210 horses on the grounds now, all of which are polo horses except for 13 which are recent standardbred arrivals courtesy of that breed's new residency program.     Holly Layne is Farm Manager at the Potomac Plantation. A Charlottesville native, she has been there three years now and stays quite busy boarding professional polo horses from top ten players and teams. In the past couple months, they have added standardbreds to the mix.   Layne has a staff to tend to the horses and maintain the large property. Her assistant Gena Nelson lives in a house on the grounds. Her son Wyatt and niece Lucy help with cleaning stalls. A team of four maintenance workers do everything like fixing fences, cutting trees, weed eating, mowing, bush hogging, dragging and fixing equipment.   "It's great to have the extra help here now," she said. "For a while, it was just Jena and myself. That was it for a long time. We both live at work and work from home so we're always here."     When Layne arrived in spring of 2017, there were 36 horses on the grounds. In 2019, that number rose to 300. "That increase is due to a lot of hard work. I always make myself available to owners, network with them and make them feel like their horses are well cared for," she said. "We have the staff to do it. Every horse is checked after twice a day. We have a hands on approach. It's a lot of work but every horse on the farm gets touched and eyeballed. They get the best care we can give."   Layne goes out her way to help owners whether it be sending them pictures and videos of their horses, getting health certificates or providing overnight accommodations for drivers who ship horses in and out. "Positive word of mouth has been the biggest help with advertising Powhatan," she added. "I stay in contact with the owners. I know who all the horses are and where they are. Owners can contact me any time for whatever their needs are."   The three years spent at Powhatan have been a learning experience for Layne because she never played polo or even watched a match before arriving in King George. "I grew up riding hunter ponies then started doing speed events like team penning and barrel racing," she said. "I managed my own farm, bred and raised quarter horses and paints and pretty much worked for myself like most breeders. I do have a variety of experience," she added. "I've come through the ranks and have worked with some really good mentors. There's been a lot to take in and learn here."   For more information on the Powhatan Plantation or boarding prices, call 540-775-4434 or e-mail powhatanplantation1@gmail.com. For details on the Certified program itself, visit vhha.net or call Debbie Warnick at 443-463-0917. The fifth pari-mutuel harness racing season at Shenandoah Downs in Woodstock will take place this fall. Opening day is slated for September 18.   Darrell Wood

The Northern Virginia Daily reports that harness racing at Shenandoah Downs in Woodstock ended in mid-October with a winning season. Darrell Wood, the director of communications of the Virginia Equine Alliance, said this season was the best year yet from both an audience and participant standpoint. He said that $148,147 was wagered on races this year, a record for Shenandoah Downs and a 24.4% increase over last year's amount of $119,099. “Over the five weekends, crowds were consistently healthy, betting was the best yet, and horsemen supported the race program to the extent that we had days with 13, 14 and even 15 races,” Wood said. He noted that one factor in the attendance increase this year was the decision to hold races on Fridays instead of Sundays. He said that with races taking place from 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Fridays, fans could come after work or school and kick off their weekend at the racetrack. “There was an energy in the grandstand during the later afternoon races on Friday that we didn't have on Sundays,” Wood said. Wood said the good weather in September and October also helped keep attendance numbers up. “On two of the days, we had some rain prior to the first race but I don't think it actually rained while racing took place at all during the season,” he said. Like last year, the harness races weren’t the only thing that drew crowds to Shenandoah Downs. This season saw the return of Autmnfest to the event, which drew the biggest crowd of the season with 3,200 attendees. Other events introduced this year included the Wiener Dog Derby - a series of wiener dog races on the track area in front of the grandstand - and Pink Power, a breast cancer awareness event that drew the biggest betting day of the season with $19,147 wagered. Wood said that events like Autumnfest, the Wiener Dog Derby and Pink Power will help continue to drive people to the harness races. “Moving forward, we have several great established events now that we can continue to build on,” he said. Other highlights of the season included the “Own a Horse For a Day” activity, which allows fans to own a horse for an afternoon and keep the purse money the horse wins, and the appearance of Foiled Again, the harness racehorse that has won the most races in history, and popular harness racing driver John Campbell to meet and greet fans the opening weekend of the season. “Both are retired but have strong followings,” Wood said. “Those appearances helped attendance on the track but it helped get Shenandoah Downs and Woodstock gain national attention as well through social media and industry websites.” by Donald Lambert, for The Northern Virginia Daily

Elkton, MD -- Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by the USTA/BetAmerica, is excited to announce the line-up for Thursday morning (Sept. 11) at 10:30 a.m. They will be joined by Mark McKelvie, Joe Zambito, and Darrell Wood. The action heats up on Saturday night with a C$2 million program happening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Mark McKelvie, Director of Communications, will join to highlight the action-packed program and talk about what fans can expect on track. The pair will go through all the stakes races with McKelvie and find out who the heavy hitters will be Saturday night. The New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions makes it's first appearance to Batavia Downs Gaming on Saturday and track announcer Joe Zambito will be the one to bring you the action. The card is highlighted by champion Gimpanzee, and will also feature the $50,000 Robert J Kane Memorial Pace which has been previously been won by champions like Foiled Again. Zambito will highlight some of the great wagering opportunities that will be available to gamblers on Saturday night and also discuss each of the championship finals. Racing heats up once again at Shenandoah Downs as the season kicks off on Saturday afternoon. Darrell Wood will talk about some of the new features at the Virginia facility including the new party deck in the home stretch. Opening day at Shenandoah Downs features dollar draft beer and hot dogs. Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by USTA/BetAmerica can be heard live every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. via their website www.posttimewithmikeandmike.com or on the archive at www.betamerica.com/BARN. by Michael Carter, for Post Time  

WOODSTOCK, VA --- 9/9/19 ---- Entries will be taken early this week for the first two race days at Virginia's Shenandoah Downs as the fourth pari-mutuel harness racing season gets underway this coming Friday September 13.   Entries for that first Friday card will be taken Tuesday September 10. Entries for the Saturday September 14 program will be accepted on Wednesday September 11. The race office opens at 7:30 AM on draw days and entries will be taken until 9 AM. On line entry is encouraged, but horsemen can also call entries in at 540-459-5170 or 540-459-5455. Scratch time is 9:30 AM the following day.   The five week season in Woodstock will continue every Friday at 3:30 PM and Saturday at 2 PM until October 13. The new Friday Happy Hour race cards feature one dollar draft beer, one dollar hot dogs and post-race karaoke. A pair of non-betting racing events will also take place on Sunday October 6 and 13. Virginia Breeder's prep races for two and three-year-old pacers and trotters of both sexes will be first up, followed by the $300,000 (est.) Breeder's Championships on closing day.   Opening weekend will feature promotional appearances by a pair of Hall of Famers --- legendary horse Foiled Again and driving great John Campbell. Foiled Again is the richest standardbred of all time and last fall, earned victory number 104 at Shenandoah Downs.   The now 15-year-old pacer retired January 1 with 109 wins. He will take a lap over the Woodstock oval both Friday and Saturday, then host a "meet and greet" both days with fans the rest of the afternoon. The first 600 attendees on Saturday will receive a free commemorative Foiled Again t-shirt.   John Campbell will help usher in the season with an appearance on Friday. Fans will get a chance to meet the highly accomplished reinsman who won 11,058 races. Horses he drove bankrolled nearly $304 million in purse monies. Campbell will also take Foiled Again out for a lap on Friday between races.   Another meet highlight is an "Own a Horse For a Day" promotion, sponsored by the Virginia Harness Horse Association. On three separate occasions --- September 14, 21 and October 5, fans in attendance will be selected via random drawings to own a horse in a $4,000 race the following weekend.   They will get to visit their respective horse, trainer and driver in the stable area for photo opportunities and best of all, keep the purse earnings their horses win. One person is guaranteed to take home the winner's share of $2,000 on each occasion.   Other key promotions include a baseball cap giveaway on September 21, weiner dog races on September 28, an "Autumnfest" BBQ/Craft Beer Festival on October 5, and the "Pink Power" Breast Cancer awareness event on October 12 which raises funds for the local American Cancer Society chapter.   Shenandoah Downs is located at Exit 283 off I-81, halfway between Winchester and Harrisonburg. Both parking and admission are free and the races are family friendly. More details are at shenandoahdowns.com.   by Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs

WOODSTOCK, VA ---- 8/27/19 ---- Harness racing will return to the Shenandoah County Fair for the 102nd consecutive year beginning Wednesday with stronger participation from horsemen, a major increase in purse monies and a new sense of enthusiasm.   The opener features eight races, all with $2,000 purses, beginning at 12 Noon. The four day Fair meet will continue with cards on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the same time.   Opening day's program kicks off with a trio of races for two-year-olds. Trotters take center stage in races one and two, and pacers in race three. Roger Hammer's Boyz Of Summer and Linda's Will invade Woodstock with 20 starts between them, more than all other entrants in the first three combined. Betsy Brown will face Hammer in the first two with Kwitchyerbell Yakin and Meme And Me respectively, both of whom will be making their first lifetime start.   Trainer Shannon Trader has a pair as well with Toms All In and Racin Rudy. Brown and Hammer will pilot their own horses and Scott Woogen will drive Trader's.   The fifth race offers the deepest field of the afternoon and has attracted six for a non-winners of $5,000 pace. Half the field --- Blow Back, Powerful Madison and Southwind Glider --- has lifetime earnings of between $97,000 - $110,000. Two others --- D'Dream and Uncle Ike --- recorded winning miles of 1:56.0 and 1:56 2/5 last year.   The final three races are all divisions of the Rocking Rose Pace which features respective fields of six, four and four competitors. Hammer has a trio entered while David Swaney and Ron Lineweaver each have a pair.   In order to jump start the Fair's racing program, the Virginia Harness Horse Association (VHHA) is taking a more active role and is supplying purse monies for the meet beginning this year.   "There is a substantial increase in purse dollars compared to past years, said Debbie Warnick, VHHA Executive Director. "This is the last Fair with any kind of racing in Virginia so we want to keep the program alive and really make an effort to promote it more. We want the rich tradition to continue in Woodstock," continued Warnick. "The VHHA Board wanted more participation from horsemen, so we eliminated double heats and increased purses. We're pleased with the early results and hope fans enjoy the racing product the next four days."   Races are held at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds in Woodstock, located off I-81 at Exit 283 halfway between Winchester and Harrisonburg. Once the Fair meet is complete, the annual Shenandoah Downs five week pari-mutuel meet will be held from September 13 - October 13 with racing every Friday at 3:30 PM and Saturday at 2 PM. Details are at shenandoahdowns.com.   by Darrell Wood, for the Shenandoah County Fair

WOODSTOCK, VA ---7/31/19) --- Stall/racing applications for the fourth annual Shenandoah Downs harness racing season in Woodstock, Virginia are due August 2nd.   The applications are available on line at vhha.net and at shenandoahdowns.com. More details are available thru horsemen's representative Debbie Warnick at 443-463-0917 or by e-mail at nihilator40@msn.com.   A five week pari-mutuel season will begin September 13th and continue every Friday at 3:30 PM and Saturday at 2 PM until October 13th. A pair of non-betting racing events will also take place on Sunday October 6th and 13th. Virginia Breeder's prep races for two and three-year-old pacers and trotters of both sexes will be first up, followed by the $300,000 (est.) Breeder's Championships on closing day.   The barn area and track will open on Wednesday September 11th. For the second straight meet, a $100 stipend will be paid to owners of horses who finish out of the money --- 6th, 7th or 8th. The meet will be preceded by four days of racing at the 102nd Shenandoah County Fair from August 28th-31st.   Shenandoah Downs is located on the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds at Exit 283 off I-81, halfway between Winchester and Harrisonburg. Both parking and admission are free and the races are family friendly. More details are at shenandoahdowns.com.   by Darrell Woods, for Shenandoah Downs  

WOODSTOCK, VA -The 2019 license application and race day request submitted by the Shenandoah County Agricultural Foundation for a fall harness racing season at Shenandoah Downs was approved by the Virginia Racing Commission this past week at its regular meeting. Operations will be conducted by the Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) and Virginia Harness Horse Association (VHHA).   A five week pari-mutuel season will begin at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds in Woodstock September 13th and continue every Friday at 3:30 PM and Saturday at 2 PM until October 13th. A pair of non-betting racing events will also take place on Sunday October 6th and 13th. Virginia Breeder's prep races for two and three-year-old pacers and trotters of both sexes will be first up, followed by the $300,000 (est.) Breeder's Championships on closing day.   Stall/racing applications for the fourth annual Shenandoah Downs season are on line at vhha.net and at shenandoahdowns.com. Applications are due August 2nd. A $100 stipend will again be paid to owners of horses who finish out of the money --- 6th, 7th or 8th. The barn area and track will open on Wednesday September 11th. The meet will be preceded by four days of racing during the 102nd Shenandoah County Fair from August 28th-31st. More details are available thru horsemen's representative Debbie Warnick at 443-463-0917.   Opening weekend will feature a promotional appearance by legendary horse Foiled Again, who was inducted into Harness Racing's Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York on July 3rd. He is the richest standardbred of all time and last fall, earned victory number 104 at Shenandoah Downs. The now 15-year-old pacer retired January 1st with 109 wins. He will take a lap over the Woodstock oval Saturday September 14th then host a "meet and greet" with fans the rest of the afternoon. The first 600 attendees that day will receive a free commemorative Foiled Again t-shirt.   Another meet highlight is an "Own a Horse For a Day" promotion, sponsored by the VHHA. On three separate occasions --- September 14th, 21st and October 5th, eight fans will be selected via random drawings to own a horse in a $4,000 race the following weekend. They will get to visit their respective horse, trainer and driver in the stable area for photo opportunities and best of all, keep the purse earnings their horses win. One person is guaranteed to take home the winner's share of $2,000 on each occasion.   Other key promotions include Weiner Dog races on September 28th, an "Autumnfest" BBQ/Craft Beer Festival on October 5th, and the "Pink Power" Breast Cancer awareness event on October 12th which raises funds for the local American Cancer Society chapter. Every Friday, the 3:30 PM "happy hour" race card will feature one dollar draft beer and hot dogs along with karaoke in the party tent.   Shenandoah Downs is located at Exit 283 off I-81, halfway between Winchester and Harrisonburg. Both parking and admission are free and the races are family friendly. More details are at shenandoahdowns.com.     Darrell Wood  

Harness racing trainer/driver Mark Gray had two Virginia Breeder's Championship wins, and 2017 two-year-old divisional champs Lemonaideshine and Freddie K retained their titles as three-year-olds Sunday as the $347,000 eight race championship slate brought the Shenandoah Downs season to an end. Two and three-year-old divisional titles were decided among pacers and trotters of both sexes in the 21st edition of the Series. Gray's Great Am I and Flaming Trix captured the $42,725 Two-Year-Old Colt Trot and $43,950 Two-Year-Old Filly Trot respectively. The former wired the field and held off a pesky Psycho in 2:03 2/5 while the latter took the lead just past the half and in a thriller, fended off Zsa Zsa Dabor by just a neck in 2:08 3/5. Both trotters won their prep legs in easier fashion this past Monday, by 4 1/2 and 2 1/4 lengths. The pair are both owned by Anne McDonald of Alexandria. Lemonaideshine is a Badlands Hanover gelding that has thrived in Woodstock the past two years. The Jimmy Viars trainee has finished no worse than second in twelve lifetime starts, all at either Shenandoah Downs or the County Fair meet that precedes it. He wired the $44,200 Three-Year-Old Colt Pace field Sunday and finished just one-half length ahead of Gray's Rocknroll Ace in 1:57 2/5. Chuck Perry, who won the season's driving title, directed Lemonaideshone to his seventh win of the year in just nine starts. Freddie K, who won his prep race in wire-to-wire fashion, mimicked that effort in Sunday's $43,600 Two-Year-Old Colt Trot but did it in a more dominating style. The Three-Year-Old Dusty Winner gelding maintained a four length cushion throughout most of the second half, opened up by six at the top of the stretch and crossed by that same margin in 2:04 3/5. Frank Milby guided the effort for trainer Carlo Poliseno and owner Charlie Dunavant. In other sophomore action, Shez In Orbit won the $44,600 Filly Trot and gave reinsman Perry his second win on Breeder's Day. The Renfrow Hauser trainee wired the field in 2:02 3/5 and won comfortably by 3 1/2 over Half Moon Rising. Baddabingbaddabang cruised by the same margin of victory in the $43,400 Filly Pace. The daughter of Strong Player came home in a final quarter of :28 1/5 en route to a 1:58.0 finishing time. Chris Shaw drove for trainer Jeff Nisonger and owner Daniel Chanskey of Keysville. In the other freshman races, Hillbilly Camtastic handily beat stablemate Hillbilly Treasure in the $41,875 Filly Pace. Trainer Amanda Jackson's pair finished one-two in the prep race a week prior and both were making just their second lifetime starts. Frank Milby drove the winner home in 2:06 1/5. Sketcher edged Rusty's Houdini in the $43,550 Colt Pace, the day's most exciting race. Reinsman Billy Carter led Sketcher to the front initially and nearly got a coast-to-coast journey. Driver Jason Thompson' runner-up challenged outside on several occasions and even took the lead briefly at the third fraction but ultimately came up just shy to Sketcher. This was the only championship event not won by the prep race winner; the two flip flopped finishing order a week prior. Sketcher crossed in 2:00 1/5. In Saturday's action, Speed It and John's Dream captured respective $8500 open trot and pace co-features. Arlene Cameron's Speed It shipped in from Harrah's Philadelphia and wired a field that included former open winners Southwind Ferrari and Held In Balance. John Wagner was in the sulky for the public's betting choice and did not disappoint, winning by 2 1/2 over Stormont Dundas in 1:59.0. Fan favorite and track record holder John's Dream won his fourth open pace of the season but had to come from behind to complete the task. The five-year-old Dream Away gelding was last at the half and fifth at the third marker among six competing. Driver Chuck Perry led a surge outside in the final turn and crossed one length the best over Bobby The Greek in 1:55 3/5. End of the season awards were presented closing weekend. Chuck Perry won the driving title with 26 victories over the twelve day meet. Marna Shehan's eleven wins were tops among trainers in a tightly contested race. Arlene Cameron was second with ten while Roger Hammer and Jimmy Viars tied for third with nine each. Horse of the Meet honors went to Shehan's Peppermint Candy, a five-year-old gray mare who won all three of her Woodstock starts this fall. On Saturday, a pair of 14-year-olds were brought into the winners circle for a retirement celebration. Go Easy On Me and B Blissfiul, the winningest horse ever at Shenandoah Downs, were recognized by an appreciative crowd. They were both rewarded with a large bag of carrots from Virginia Racing Commissioner Clint Miller. by Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs

WOODSTOCK, VA --- 10/10/18) ---- The 2018 harness racing season at Shenandoah Downs in Woodstock is in the homestretch and a number of closing weekend activities are planned to usher out meet from October 12th thru 14th.   The weekend kicks off with Shenandoah's first ever Friday program ever on October 12th. Billed as a "Hops 'n Hooves" after-work dollar draft beer event, a ten race card will run from 3-6 PM. Hot dogs will also be one dollar, and Maryland's Surf Jaguars band will perform yacht rock music in the party tent. Gates open at 2 PM and admission is free.   On Saturday, The Shenandoah Valley Chamber of Commerce presents its annual Autumnfest event in conjunction with the harness races. Designated by the Travel Channel as one of the Top 10 amazing fall festivals worth a road trip, the event will feature barbecue, craft beer and wine tastings, live music, a log splitting competition, classic car show, crafters and harness racing. The festival runs from 11:30 AM - 5 PM and harness races will be held from 2 - 5 PM. Advance tickets are $8 for all activities except the beer and wine tastings, or $20 to include the tastings. Tickets can be purchased at shenandoahcountychamber.com/autumnfest or day-of at the gate. Admission to just the harness races is free. Horse race wagers can be placed at the regular grandstand stations or at a new trackside betting pavilion in the festival area. Sunday's final race day features the $320,000 Virginia Breeder's Championships, an eight race showcase event with two and three-year-old pacers and trotters of both sexes. Each race will have a purse of $40,000 or more. A series of $4,000 prep races was held this past Monday. Two-year-old division winners included Hillbillycamtastic (Filly Pace), Flaming Trix (Filly Trot), Rusty's Houdini (Colt Pace) and Great Am I (Colt Trot). Three-year-old category winners were Baddabingbaddabang (Filly Pace), Shez In Orbit (Filly Trot), Lemonaideshine (Colt Pace) and Freddie K (Colt Trot). This event, which will be held from 2-4 PM, is a non-betting card; betting however will be available on all races both Friday and Saturday.   On the track itself, three trainers enter the final weekend tied for the standings lead with seven wins apiece. Arlene Cameron, Marna Shehan and Jimmy Viars all share the top spot. Cameron's horses have earned $39,593 from 53 starts. Shehan's have bankrolled $28,542 from 31 starts while Viars horses have won $19,040 from just 19 outings. Gerry Longo and Chuck Perry have five wins each. Perry is atop the driver standings with 20 heading into the final three race days. Billy Carter and Chris Shaw are tied for second with ten each and Tyler Shehan is third with eight. A pair of 14-year old horses will be recognized in the winner's circle Saturday in a retirement ceremony. B Blissful and Go Easy On Me both will officially retire January 1st and will get a final moment in front of the Woodstock fans before they move on. Shenandoah Downs races take place on the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds in Woodstock. The half mile oval is located off I-81 at Exit 283, halfway between Harrisonburg and Winchester. For more information, visit shenandoahdowns.com or the track's facebook page. Caption for attachment: 14-year-old B Blissful will be part of a retirement ceremony at Shenandoah Downs October 13th. Photo by Dee Leftwich. For info, contact Darrell Wood at 804-338-4632 by Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs                

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