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Harness racing fans that stayed for a trio of Virginia Breeder's Three Year Old Championship races were rewarded with thrilling finishes Sunday at Shenandoah Downs. The second weekend of racing in Woodstock wrapped up with ten pari-mutuel races followed by three non-betting Breeder's events on another clear and picturesque day in the Shenandoah Valley. Sunday's $44,000 Filly Pace saw The Third Day and Camystery battle side by side through the stretch and at the wire, The Third Day was best by a head. The Third Straight filly set early fractions of :29 2/5, 1:01.0 and 1:30 4/5 before tackling her main challenger, who sat a patient second throughout the four horse race. Driver/trainer James Stiltner II directed his charge to a 2:00 3/5 finish for owner Herman Hagerman of North Tazewell, Virginia. The victor, out of Klondike Lady by Cambest, was the most experienced of any with 15 starts heading into the Breeder's finale. Camystery, who won a  conditioned race in 1:59.0 opening weekend, was the runner-up. Gone South finished third and Ellie'sbelleringer was fourth. Yagot A Winner gained revenge on his stablemate Dusty Fool in the $41,200 Colt & Gelding Trot. In this rematch of trainer Carlo Pliseno's pair, Yagot A Winner trotted patiently behind front stepping Dusty Fool through three fractions, came out in mid stretch and edged the early leader by a head in 2:07 3/5. The duo, both owned by Jane Dunavant of Kenbridge, Virginia, were the sole competitors last year when Dusty Fool took freshman championship honors. They were the only two to compete as sophomores Sunday as well. Heading into the showdown, Yagot A Winner had earned $60,867 while Dusty Fool collected $49,425. The '17 winner is out of the CR Commando mare, Yagot Me.  Six colt & gelding pacers battled in a $43,600 divisional title race where two year old Breeder's champ Royal Red looked tough early on. The  Dream Away gelding had won five straight Fair races in addition to a conditioned race in 1:56 2/5 opening weekend. Trainer Jimmy Viars' pacer led through three fractions, tripping the timer respectively in :27 4/5, :57 3/5 and 1:28 2/5. In the final turn, Leon Harris's Lil Cool Fly'n Fun and Stacy McLenaghan's Welcometotheparty came on strong and surged into a match race of sorts from that point. The former, driven by Justin Vincent, was a neck better at the finish in 1:58 4/5. The winner, who was third in last year's freshman clash, is by Cool Flying Fun out of River Isle by Laag. The runner-up, who finished a close second to Royal Red in the September 2nd prep race, was driven by Wayne Long. Royal Red was third followed by Hot Card Shark, Tulsi and Southern Jamie. The $44,600 Filly Trotting Championship was held during the pari-mutuel card Sunday and Miss Pick Up, who did not compete as a two year old, won convincingly in wire-to-wire fashion. The Master Glide filly disposed of five other foes, including two year old champ Lizzybeth Taylor, in 2:02 4/5. The winner is owned by Anne McDonald of Alexandria, Virginia, and was trained and driven by Mark Gray. Miss Pick Up had four starts entering the race and most recently, finished fourth in the $175,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes Final at The Red Mile. Renfrow Hauser's Lizzybeth Taylor finished second, 5 1/2 lengths behind the winner, and Betsy Brown's Irish Blessings took third. Gretal Garbo was fourth followed by Boog and Guacamolie Gammy. The third race weekend at Shenandoah Downs is slated for this Saturday and Sunday, September 30th and October 1st, at 1 PM. parking and admission are free. The annual "Wine & trotter" festival is on Saturday where fans can purchase a ticket to sample wines from area Vineyards. Attendees are encouraged to wear their most elegant or unique headwear and enter the WINC Fancy Hat Contest. On Sunday, the first 200 fans will receive a commemorative Shenandoah Downs baseball cap. The season continues through October 15th. More details are at and Darrell Wood

(WOODSTOCK, VA --- 10/10/2016) ---- Sunday's closing day at Shenandoah Downs featured a battle between the top two "Horse of the Meet" candidates, which Racing Secretary Mike Wandishin fittingly carded as the last race of the harness racing meet. Unfortunately, Wandishin's hope at drama didn't materialize in the showdown between B Blissful and Last Chance Harvey. The former, a Jimmy Viars trainee, developed a flat tire on his sulky and by the final turn, had fallen to the back of the field. The latter, a Henry Lewis trainee, did win an exciting race nonetheless by 1 1/4 lengths over Hare Force One in 1:57 3/5 to more than justify award winning status. Entering the finale, Last Chance Harvey's Woodstock resume was nearly identical to B Blissful's outside of a slight blemish. In a September 17th start that last Chance Harvey appeared to win, he was disqualified and placed second. Outside of that runner-up finish, the 7 year old Full Of Fun gelding won four other races and a pair at the Shenandoah County Fair, which preceded the five weekend pari-mutuel meet. B Blissful had won six straight heading into Sunday's action --- one each during the meet's four weekends and two during the Fair. The 12 year old Blissful Hall gelding's bankroll went over the $300,000 mark from his October 2nd triumph. The duo ended up sharing "Co-Horse of the Meet" honors. Tyler Shehan captured the driver's title with 14 wins, two better than Frank Milby and Roger Plante Jr., who tied for second with 12 apiece. Gerry Longo won the trainers title in a wire-to-wire effort, finishing with ten wins from horses like Magnifique, Caress Of Steel, Sparkin Your Fire and Explosive Muscles, who won the afternoon's co-featured $8,000 Open Handicap Trot. Amanda Jackson and Herman Hagerman tied for second with six victories each. Darrell Wood  

(WOODSTOCK, VA., 10/8/2016) ---- Igotyourcrazy came outside from fifth in the final turn then passed all four front steppers late in the stretch en route to a thrilling conditioned race victory at Shenandoah Downs on Saturday. Reinsman Roger Plante Jr. directed the come from behind effort and with two wins on the day, pulled into a second place tie with Frank Milby in the driver standings with one day to go in the inaugural harness racing meet. Igotyourcrazy was last at the half among the six horses competing but stayed within four lengths of the leader, Camturo Beach. Plante positioned the Del Richards Jr. trainee perfectly moving forward and was part of a four wide contingent coming out of the turn. The 7 year old Cam's Card Shark gelding crossed in 2:00 4/5, 1 1/4 lengths over betting choice Sparkin Your Fire. The winner, out of Allamerican Raquel by Life Sign, won his 15th career start for owner Eric Decker of Milford, Delaware. The meet's leading driver and trainer each added another win to their category leading portfolios Saturday. Driver Tyler Shehan directed Whiskery to victory in the day's finale and trainer Gerry Longo reached the winner's circle with Caress of Steel earlier in the card. Shehan boosted his win total to 14, three ahead of Plante and Frank Milby, while Longo extended his lead among conditioners. Longo enters Sunday with nine triumphs while the next closest is Herman Hagerman with six. Sunday's final day of racing features a 13 race card, free admission and free $5 betting vouchers to all fans. Gates open at 11 AM and first post is at 1:00 PM. Darrell Wood

(WOODSTOCK, VA --- 10/7/2016) --- This weekend, the curtain will fall on the inaugural season of pari-mutuel harness racing at Shenandoah Downs with an 11 race card on Saturday and a 13 race card on Sunday. Racing Secretary Mike Wandishin added a bit of drama to Sunday's closing day by scheduling a race that pits the two main "Horse of the Meet" candidates against each other. B Blissful and Last Chance Harvey bring nearly identical credentials into the showdown. The clash has been carded as Race 13, and it will be the final event of the day and meet. B Blissful, a Jimmy Viars trainee who has won four straight at Shenandoah Downs and six straight overall, will face five other pacers including Last Chance Harvey, who has won three of four at the meet and five of six overall. Henry Lewis's charge actually reached the winner's circle in all four his seasonal starts, but was disqualified and placed second on September 17th. The former's best time in Woodstock is 1:56 4/5 while the latter's is 1:57 1/5. Last Chance Harvey is the 2-1 early favorite though while B Blissful is second choice at 5-2. Sunday's marathon program also features a pair of $8,000 Open Handicap events --- a five horse trot that has been carded as the 9th race and a seven horse pace that immediately follows. Roger Hammer's Silver Sierra looks for his second straight Open Handicap victory in the trot while Gerry Longo's Magnifique goes for her fourth straight victory in the pace. Heading into final weekend, Tyler Shehan sits atop the driver standings with 13 wins while Frank Milby is just two back with 11. Gerry Longo leads all trainers with eight wins and Herman Hagerman is next with six. A trio of conditioners are tied for third with five each --- Jimmy Viars, Amanda Jackson and Lawrence Cooper. Gates open at 11 AM both days and races begin at 1 PM. The first 1,000 fans each day will receive a free $5 betting voucher courtesy of the Virginia Harness Horsemen's Association. Darrell Wood

B Blissful cemented his status as a "Horse of the Meet" candidate on Sunday by staying perfect at the Shenandoah Downs inaugural meet. The 12 year old Blissful Hall gelding had won a race during each of the three race weekends so far, and he put that streak on the line against five other conditioned pacers in the finale Sunday. Not surprisingly, the Jimmy Viars trainee was sent off as the heavy betting choice but he made it interesting initially. Cool Hand Lucas took control early and authored the mile's first three fractions while B Blissful paced in fifth through the half. Driver Frank Milby guided the eventual winner outside at that point and kept his first over position until the top of the stretch when he finally caught the front stepper. B Blissful crossed in 1:57 1/5, 2 1/2 lengths over runner-up DVC Freewaytofame. "Jimmy (Viars) deserves a ton of credit for keeping that horse sharp," said Racing Secretary Mike Wandishin. "Older horses often have lots of quirks and it's a challenge to keep them racing consistently." The victory pushed B Blissful's lifetime bankroll over the $300,000 level, and he won for the 9th time in 16 starts this year. Justa Party Animal kept his own streak alive by winning for the third straight week at Shenandoah. Trainer Amanda Jackson and driver Roger Plante have teamed up for all three. On Sunday, he overcame early interference but was still last at the third fraction. The 3 year old Skydancer Hanover gelding surged in the final turn though and took the lead from About The Benjamns. The victor, owned by Larry Jackson of Burkeville, Virginia, crossed in 2:01 2/5. Betsy Brown made her first drive of the fall meet count as she piloted Calcutta to victory in a $4500 conditioned trot. Brown, who trains the 7 year old Tom Ridge mare for Terry Kibler, edged another of her trainees --- Molly B'Golly --- by a neck margin in 2:00 4/5. Between the current pari-mutuel meet and the four day Shenandoah County Fair meet that preceded it, the two trotters have combined for 13 "in the money" finishes in 14 starts. The inaugural Shenandoah Downs season comes to an end this coming weekend with cards slated Saturday and Sunday at 1 PM. A seafood fest will take place Saturday and free admission is on tap Sunday. The Virginia Harness Horsemen, in appreciation for great fan support this meet, will give the first 1,000 fans both Saturday and Sunday a free betting voucher. More information is available at and at by Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs

(WOODSTOCK, VA --- 10/1/2016) ---- Silver Sierra came on in the stretch and surged past Day To Day just before the wire to capture the featured $8,000 Open Handicap Trot Saturday afternoon at Shenandoah Downs. Roger Hammer, who trains the 4 year old Sierra Kosmos gelding, was in the sulky today for his charge. Day To Day, trained and driven by Tyler Stillings, led from the start and even carried a five length lead past the three-quarter pole. Silver Sierra came outside in the final turn and methodically pecked away at the lead. The winner, out of Heather Spur by SJ's Caviar, crossed in 1:57 2/5 and captured his 11th lifetime race. Hammer had another training win earlier in the card with Arycca Hanover. The sophomore filly pacer connected for the first career triumph. Herman Hagerman's Hot Rod Mindale and Gerry Longo's Magnifique both entered Saturday action looking for their third straight win. The pair came away with respective hat trick performances . The former became the first horse to win at the Shenandoah meet from post position eight while the latter wired the field. Driver Joey Mapes guided Hot Rod Mindale to a dominant, 6 1/2 length win. The 12 year old Real Artist gelding had no problem overcoming the outside starting spot. He was in third with a first over trip at the opening panel, took control in the second turn and never looked back. Out of Nani Oakly by Jate Lobell, Hot Rod Mindale crossed in 1:57.0 and his lifetime bankroll increased to $353,936. Longo's pacer, which he drove, held off four others in a $7,000 Open Handicap. The 5 year old Tell All mare led by less than a length through most of the mile. She crossed 1 1/4 lengths over Indian Hero in 1:58 1/5 for her 8th win of the year. Magnifique is out of Jardin Des Arts by Jeremys Gambit. Potential Horse of the Meet candidate Last Chance Harvey came outside at the half of his $3500 conditioned pace, slid into the pocket and eased by front stepping Three Large in the stretch to score his second straight. The 7 year old Henry Lewis trainee has reached the winner's circle six straight times at Woodstock going back to the Shenandoah County Fair, but was disqualified and placed second in his September 17th start. Racing returns to Shenandoah Downs on Sunday at 1 PM and guest caller Roger Huston returns to the microphone for a second straight day. The "Wine & Trotter" festival continues Sunday and starts at 11 AM.   by Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs

(ARRINGRON, VA --- 10/15/2015) ---- Blueridge Pushy and Riggy, respective two year old Virginia-bred champions last year in the harness racing filly and colt pacing divisions, return as favorites to repeat in 2015 as they headline Sunday's $363,825 "Champions Day" Extravaganza at the Oak Ridge Estate in Nelson County. The pair most recently captured their three year old prep races at Oak Ridge last weekend. Top Virginia-bred pacers and trotters of both sexes will compete in eight championship races on Sunday, presented by the Virginia Equine Alliance. Three will be contested as non-betting events while the other five will be included as part of a ten race pari-mutuel program starting at 1:00 PM. Harness racing returned to Oak Ridge last weekend for the first time since 2001 and this will be the first time "Champions Day" has ever been held there. The past 17 editions have been contested at Colonial Downs in New Kent. Herman Hagerman's Blueridge Pushy beat four other fillies in her prep and is favored in the $45,600 finale. J D. Wengerd directed the 3 1/4 length victory in 2:02 2/5, and in similar style to 2014's championship race, beat the same runner-up and third place finishers in identical order again. Freddy Darby's Loves You Baby was second and Scott Warnick's Here Comes Lucy ended up third. Blueridge Pushy is a Badlands Hanover filly out of Cam's Pushy Woman by Cambest.     Brian Burton's Riggy held off  four foes to reach the winner's circle in the male counterpart and is early choice to repeat in the $46,200 final. The Riggins gelding covered the mile in 2:00.0 and beat Majestos by two lengths. Riggy came to Virginia on a roll, fresh off a pair of runner-up finishes and a dominant victory in Maryland. Leonard Hubbard of Cambridge, Maryland owns the pacer, who is out of Sesame Bagel, by The Panderosa.    In the two Virginia-bred sophomore trotting preps, a pair of long time conditioners scored wins in very different fashion. Renfrow Hauser's Max Santorini went wire-to-wire in the colt/gelding trot but held on to win by just a nose over a pesky Flaming Caviar. Charlie Dunavant's Ah Me didn't rely on a close call, rolling to a 20 length triumph over stablemate Kiss My Cart in the filly division. Max Santorini, a Gregory Pecs colt out of Luring Maxine, by Luring, crossed in 2:11 1/5 while Ah Me, a Mr. Commando filly out of Koala Kosmos, by SJ's Photo, connected in 2:07 1/5. Both are favored in their respective $43,000 and $45,600 divisions Sunday, which will be held as non-betting races at 11:45 AM and 12:15 PM. Trainer Charlie Dunavant's stable swept both Virginia-bred two year trotting prep races last Sunday as Cicada's Song captured the filly division warm-up in 2:14 1/5 and Elton J won the male audition in 2:06 2/5. Driver Carlo Poliseno was the common factor in both, though like the three year old trotting preps, they came very differently. The first was a blowout win against two other foes who both broke stride while the latter one capped off a thrilling stretch duel with Speedy Taxi, winning by a neck.   Cicada's Song, who is now 3-for-3, got her first two wins at Harrington in identical 2:01 1/5 times, the most recent of which came in a $20,000 Delaware state-bred event. She headlines the $43,075 final, which is a another non-bettor slated for a 12:00 Noon departure. Elton J, a Dusty Winner gelding, came to the Commonwealth fresh off a runner-up in the same series at Delaware. He is favored to repeat in the $46,150 championship. Jane Dunavant of Kenbridge, Virginia, owns the pair.    John's Dream took advantage of an extended early pocket trip in the freshmen colt/gelding pace on prep weekend, cruised past front stepping Patrick's Day in deep stretch and earned a one length triumph in2:04 4/5. The Dream Away colt, who only faced a pair of competitors, is owned and trained by Chuck Perry, who also drove. John's Dream is early choice in the $44,700 finale. Perry also guided Hot Jenna to victory in the two year old prep for filly pacers, which saw trainer Mark Gray's stable sweep the top three spots. That trio, which included runner-up Motel Molly and third place finisher Flying Pirate, provided the most exciting finish of the weekend and all return to compete for a $49,500 purse in Sunday's championship. Starting among a field of seven, just a nose separated Gray's group at the wire. Only two of the entrants, including runner-up Motel Molly, had made a start prior to Sunday.  Gates open at 11 AM Sunday. Admission is $5 and included a program and tip sheet. Kids 12 and under are free.  Darrell Wood   

(ARRINGTRON, VA.--- 10/11/2015) ---- Harness racing trainer Charlie Dunavant swept both Virginia-bred two year trotting prep races Sunday afternoon at Nelson County's Oak Ridge Estate as opening weekend festivities continued in advance of next Sunday's $320,000 "Champions Day" card. Cicada's Song captured the $5,000 filly division warm-up in 2:14 1/5 while Elton J won the male counterpart in 2:06 2/5. Driver Carlo Poliseno was the common factor in both, though they came in completely different fashion. The first was a blowout win against two other foes who both broke stride in the non-betting race, while the latter one capped off a thrilling stretch duel with Speedy Taxi, winning by a neck. Cicada's Song, who is now 3-for-3, got her first two wins at Harrington in identical 2:01 1/5 times, the most recent of which came in a $20,000 Delaware state-bred event. Elton J, a Dusty Winner gelding, came to the Commonwealth fresh off a runner-up in the same series at Delaware. Jane Dunavant of Kenbridge, Virginia, owns the pair. John's Dream took advantage of an extended early pocket trip in the colt/gelding pace, cruised past front stepping Patrick's Day in deep stretch and earned a one length triumph in 2:04 4/5. The Dream Away colt, who only faced a pair of competitors in the prep, is owned and trained by Chuck Perry, who also guided Hot Jenna to victory in the Virginia-bred filly pace for trainer Mark Gray. Gray's pacer was one of three he had in the race, and that trio provided the most exciting finish of the weekend in a very tight three horse photo. Starting among a field of seven, just a nose separated Gray's group at the wire. He guided Motel Molly to a second place finish and Frank Milby directed his other charge, Flying Pirate, to third. Only two of the entrants, including runner-up Motel Molly, had made a start prior to Sunday. Cody Poliseno, the 21-year-old son of Carlo Poliseno, earned his second driving win ever and third sulky victory Sunday for the family. He guided Carlo's Collect The Brass to victory over several other high earners in wire-to-wire fashion in a $5,000 "winners over" trot. "I thought we had a real shot with him," said Cody. "The focus seemed to be on Sam Hayes but coming to the gate, my horse had so much energy I took him right to the front and he held strong the whole mile.". The 9 year old CR Commando gelding crossed in 1:56 3/5, just two-fifths of a second off hi lifetime best mark. The Oak Ridge meet continues next weekend with cards Saturday at 12:30 PM and closing day on Sunday at 1:00 PM.   Darrell Wood  

(ARRINGTON, VA. --- 10/10/2015) ---- Blueridge Pushy and Riggy, respective two year old Virginia-bred harness racing champions last year in the filly and colt pacing divisions, captured their three year old $5,000 prep races Saturday at the Oak Ridge Estate as harness racing returned to the scenic venue for the first time since 2001. Herman Hagerman's Blueridge Pushy beat four other fillies in her race, the first pari-mutuel harness event contested at the one mile oval in 14 years. J D. Wengerd directed the 3 1/4 length victory in 2:02 2/5, and in identical fashion to 2014's finale, beat the same runner-up and third place finishers in the same order again Saturday. Freddy Darby's Loves You Baby was second and Scott Warnick's Here Comes Lucy ended up third. Blueridge Pushy is a Badlands Hanover filly out of Cam's Pushy Woman by Cambest. Brian Burton's Riggy also held off four foes to reach the winner's circle in the male counterpart. The Riggins gelding covered the mile in 2:00.0 and beat Majestos by two lengths. Riggy came to Virginia on a roll, fresh off a pair of runner-up finishes and a dominant victory in Maryland. Leonard Hubbard owns the victor, who will defend his title next Sunday in the $40,000 final. The two Virginia-bred trotting preps were held as non-bettors prior to the card and a pair of long time conditioners scored wins in very different fashion. Renfrow Hauser's Max Santorini went wire-to-wire in the colt/gelding trot but held on to win by just a nose over a pesky Flaming Caviar. Charlie Dunavant's Ah Me didn't rely on a close call, rolling to a 20 length triumph over stablemate Kiss My Cart in the filly division. Max Santorini, a Gregory Pecs colt out of Luring Maxine, by Luring, crossed in 2:11 1/5 while Ah Me, a Mr. Commando filly out of Koala Kosmos, by SJ's Photo, connected in 2:07 1/5. Driver Brandon Givens had four wins on the afternoon aboard Mohegan Hanover, Youcantstopthis, Stealin The Show and Somewhere With You. The first trio came within the day's first six races and interestingly, the hot reinsman recorded his next one in the seventh race with a horse that was overlooked off 60-1. Somewhere With You returned $132.00 for a $2 win ticket. Racing at Oak Ridge continues Sunday with a nine race card beginning at 1:00 PM. Virginia-bred 2 year old prep races take center stage with a quartet, all featuring a $5,000 purse.   Darrell Wood

(ARRINGTON, VA ---- 10/08/2015) --- A total of eight $5,000 Virginia-bred prep races highlight action on the track this weekend as harness racing returns to the Oak Ridge Estate's one mile oval in Nelson County for the first time since 2001. Three year olds will prep on Saturday and two year olds on Sunday. An additional 14 pari-mutuel weekend races are scheduled, and all are presented by the Virginia Equine Alliance. Twelve races, with a total 73 horses entered, fill Saturday's card including a pair of non-betting events at 11:45 AM and 12 Noon, followed by ten wagering races that start at 12:30 PM. A trio of last year's Virginia-bred divisional champs, who won as 2 year olds, are back to defend their titles as 3 year olds. Herman Hagerman's Blueridge Pushy headlines the filly pace while Brian Burton's Riggy is favored in the colt/gelding pace, and Charlie Dunavant's Kiss My Cart draws most attention in the filly trot. The top three finishers from 2014's freshmen filly pace all return to renew their rivalry in the competitive kickoff race. Blueridge Pushy, who scored a 1:55 4/5 win at Northfield in August, is early favorite while Freddy Darby's Loves You Baby is the second choice. Trainer Scott Warnick's Here Comes Lucy, third last year, is the third selection. Loves You Baby, who has started just once in 2015, lost her 2 year old prep by just a neck and the championship by a length. Here Comes Lucy on the other hand, has had an active 3 year old campaign, earning $21,927 from 10 starts. Riggy had been aggressively tabbed as 4-5 early pick in the colt/gelding pace while Chuck Perry's Majestos is not far behind at 3-2. Riggy is coming in fresh off back-to-back 2nd place finishes at Rosecroft in 1:55 1/5 and 1:55 2/5 while Majestos has been racing consistently during the summer and early fall at the Ocean Downs and Harrington half mile ovals. Both of Saturday's trotting preps feature three horse fields and will be non-betting events. Kiss My Cat, who won the filly title last year by 5 3/4 lengths over Elma Lou in 2:04 4/5, squares off against the runner-up again while trainer Mark Gray has a pair in the Virginia-bred male counterpart with I Am Delightful and Flaming Caviar. There are 10 races scheduled on Sunday --- one non-bettor and nine on the wagering card, which begins at 1:00 PM. The Virginia-bred 2 year old filly pace, with a field of seven, should be intriguing since five of the entrants will be making their first lifetime start. The colt/gelding trot features six horses including Neil Damron's Sweeten Me Up and Renfrow Hauser's Speedy Taxi. The former brings a hefty bankroll of $61,110 into Oak Ridge while the latter had a respectable second at the Red Mile September 13th in 1:59 1/5. The remaining preps each sport a three horse field. The filly trot, scheduled as the early non-bettor, has a pair of Dunavant trainees --- Cicada's Song and Devlin --- while the colt pace features a Perry trainee --- John's Dream, who has earned a pair of runner-ups in three lifetime starts. Gates open at 11 AM both days and admission is $5 (kids 12 & under are free). Oak Ridge is located off Route 29 in Arrington, halfway between Charlottesville and Lynchburg. The family friendly weekend will feature children's activities between and after the races.   More details are at   Darrell Wood  

(ARRINGTON, VA.----09/29/2015) ---- Pari-mutuel harness racing will return to the Oak Ridge Estate next week for the first time since 2001 as the Virginia Equine Alliance presents a two week meet in beautiful Nelson County. Pacers and trotters can begin shipping onto the grounds Monday October 5th in preparation for opening weekend, which kicks off Saturday October 10th at 12:30 PM and continues Sunday October 11th at 1:00 PM. The campaign concludes the following weekend, October 17 & 18, with the same post times. Closing day is highlighted by the annual $320,000 Virginia Harness Champions Day, which features eight divisional title races of Virginia-bred or sired 2 and 3 year old pacers and trotters of both sexes. Despite a new venue and location, Racing Secretary Craig Andow anticipates solid support from horsemen, who should come close to filling the barn area. Trainers Mark Gray, Herman Hagerman, Corey Braden and Scott Warnick will bring the largest contingents, with 16, 13, 12 & 11 horses respectively. Charlie Dunavant will be based there with 9 head, Leon Harris and George Anthrop have 7, and Scott Woogen and Arthur Hauser ship in with 6 apiece. Many others, including locally based Amanda Jackson, will have smaller stables on site. The track will be open for training daily from 6 AM until 12 Noon. Qualifiers will be held on Wednesday October 7th at 11 AM. Saturday's cards will be drawn Wednesday and Sunday's entries will be collected on Thursday. Qualifying times are 2:15.0 for pacers and 2:17.0 for trotters. 3 year olds are allowed 2 seconds and 2 year olds get a 3 second allowance. Virginia bred, sired or owned horses receive an additional 2 seconds beyond the age allowance. The Oak Ridge property has an area near the stables reserved for horsemen where 50 campers can be accommodated for the full two weeks. Insurance will be provided for drivers and trainers. A link to Virginia Racing Commission license applications and W-9 forms, along with other meet details, are at Horsemen-related questions can be directed to Craig Andow at 551-204-1796. The Oak Ridge Estate is located halfway between Charlottesville and Lynchburg off Route 29 in Arrington, Virginia (near Lovingston). The exact address is 2300 Oak Ridge Road - Arrington, VA 22922. Based in Nelson County, Oak Ridge is directly in the heart of a craft beer, winery and spirits trail and is surrounded by great hiking opportunities, the Blue Ridge Mountains and Wintergreen Ski Resort. Darrell Wood

(WARRENTON, VA ---- 8/26/2015) --- Harness racing will return to Virginia this October for a four day pari-mutuel meet at the beautiful Oak Ridge Estate in Nelson County. Located just off Route 29 in Arrington, halfway between Charlottesville and Lynchburg, Oak Ridge last played host to pacers and trotters back in 2001. All the action is sponsored by the Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) and will be contested over a one mile dirt oval on back-to-back weekends --- October 10/11 and 17/18. Wagering on the races will be available all four days. Win, place, show, exacta, trifecta and daily double bets will be offered. Highlight of the meet is the $300,000 (est.) Virginia Harness Day of Champions, scheduled for Sunday October 18th. Eight championship races featuring Virginia's best two and three year old pacers and trotters of both sexes will compete on the same card. Prep/elimination races will be held the prior weekend --- three years olds on Saturday and two years olds on Sunday. In addition to the Virginia Breeders' races, there are seven different late closer series that horses can enter. The first leg of these will be held either Saturday or Sunday of the first weekend, and the respective final legs, which carry purses of between $5,000 and $7,000, will be held on closing weekend. Two of the seven are open handicap races --- the John Holland Jr. Memorial Trot and the Oak Ridge Pace. The remaining five are open to standardbreds that are Virginia owned, bred or sired. Pacing events are named respectively for the USTA, the Holland Family and Nelson County, while the trotting counterparts are named for the VEA and "To All Who Helped Make This Season Happen". The barn area will open Sunday October 4th; qualifiers and the first draw will both take place on Wednesday October 7th. Horsemen must present current coggins papers for all horses upon arrival. For more information or to get stall applications, call Racing Secretary Craig Andow at 551-204-1796. The physical address for the Oak Ridge Estate is 2300 Oak Ridge Road, Arrington, Virginia 22922. For more details on the harness meet and all of the new VEA initiatives, visit   Darrell Wood

(NEW KENT, VA) --- Colonial Downs will showcase Virginia-bred two and three year old pacers and trotters of both sexes Sunday afternoon in the annual $371,000 "Day of Champions" program, which will usher out the 2014 fall season. The four Commonwealth geared pacing events will be part of an eleven race pari-mutuel card starting at 1:00 PM while the four trotting stakes will be held as non-wagering races starting at 11:30 AM. Perfect Number, fresh off a three length win in last week's "Day of Champions" prep, is the early 9-5 favorite in the $49,400 three year old colt pace. Corey Braden, the meet's leading driver, will be in the sulky again for the Art Official gelding, who will face seven other sophomores in the seventh race. Filomena is the early 4-5 choice in the $48,000 three year old filly pacing championship. She defeated two year old champ Santa Baby by 1 3/4 lengths in last week's prep and hopes to turn the table from a year ago when she finished second to Santa Baby as a freshman. Frank Gannon's Riggy and Herman Hagerman's entry of Cam's Lilly and Blueridge Pushy are favored in the respective two year old $50,375 colt and $46,850 filly pacing divisions. Riggy wired the field in his prep race against five other foes in 1:57 2/5 while Hagerman's pair finished fourth and second a week ago after a tight blanket finish in 2:00 3/5. Here Comes Lucy, who won that race by a neck over two others, is actually the third choice at 4-1. Always Quick Star and Jingle Bells will try to defend their championships from a year ago as freshmen when they compete in the $44,600 filly and $42,000 colt/gelding trots as three year olds. Elma Lou and Wilbur Eden hope to parlay prep wins in the two year old filly and colt trots into championship titles on Sunday when they vie for $45,575 and $44,300 purses respectively.  

(NEW KENT, VA --- Perfect Number and Filomena, runners-up in their respective 2013 Virginia-bred colt and filly pacing championship divisions as two year olds, scored wins in their three year old prep races Sunday at Colonial Downs in advance of next weekend's $350,000 Day of Champions card. After Christmas Parade dominated the first half of the $5,000 colt pace, Perfect Number came three wide out of the turn, passed a trio of front steppers in mid-stretch and charged home to win in a lifetime best 1:55 2/5. The Art Official gelding, who won his freshman prep a year ago, crossed three lengths ahead of Top Official. Leading driver Corey Braden directed the effort for trainer Freddy Darby. 2013 champ Handsome Jim was third in Sunday's warm-up. Filomena on the other hand, took the lead from the start and never looked back in the ladies division. The Western Ideal filly triggered quarter fractions of :28 1/5, :58.0 and 1:26 4/5 before closing the deal in 1:54 4/5 nearly two lengths over 2013 champ Santa Baby. Reinsman Braden guided Filomena for trainer Fran Raia II. For the second straight year, the three year old girls were speedier than the boys. The three year old trot events were held as non-bettors before the pari-mutuel card began and both freshman champs returned to the winners circle again. Always Quick Star, fresh off a win, second and third at the current fall meet, scored in the filly division in 2:01 3/5 while Jingle Bells (2:01 4/5) only had to beat one other foe in a two horse colt division. In Saturday's two year old prep races, Here Comes Lucy took advantage of a pocket trip and captured the filly pace prep in a thrilling finish where a neck margin separated the top three finishers. Pace setter Cam's Filly carried a slight lead into the top of the stretch but the eventual winner, Blueridge Pushy and Loves You Baby all came from behind to engage in the heart stopper. Here Comes Lucy, a Scott Warnick trainee, crossed in 2:00 3/5. The Allie's Western filly now has seven "in the money" finishes from just eight starts. Trainer Frank Gannon's Riggy wired the field in 1:57 2/5 in an uneventful colt & gelding pace. The Riggins colt tripped the timer in :29 3/5, :59 2/5 and 1:29 2/5 before crossing 4 ½ lengths ahead of Bossman Mike. Riggy is owned by Leonard Hubbard and was driven by Frank Milby. A neck came into play in the filly trot prep as Elma Lou squeaked out a close win over Kiss My Cart in a three horse field. Renegade Marie went off stride coming out of the turn so a match race played out in the final quarter between the remaining pair. The neck victor, a Cantab Hall filly, finished in 2:07 4/5. Wilbur Eden dominated in the colt & gelding prep, besting a trio of other contenders in 2:01 1/5. The Federal Flex colt wired the field and hit the wire four lengths ahead of runner-up I Am Delightful. Entries will be drawn for next Sunday's "Day of Champions" card this Thursday October 23rd. by Darrell Wood, for Colonial Downs  

(NEW KENT, VA.--- In a showdown of potential "Horse of the Meet" candidates, Bellator rose to the head of the class literally, capturing a blanket finish by a head margin over Hotunderthecollar in Thursday's $5,500 pacing feature at Colonial Downs. The 4 year old Rocknroll Hanover gelding entered the race with three wins in four starts at the current fall meet, all in late closer series company. Other trophy contenders included Vertigo Hanover, who had won four of five and, the consistent Rust Belt, who had two dominant wins and a pair of tight runner up finishes. Hotunderthecollar, fresh from five straight "in the money" finishes himself, set the pace early by cutting quarter fractions of :25 4/5, :53 4/5 and 1:21 4/5. Bellator came from fourth exiting the turn and passed Greybeard and Chesapeake Bay en route to a battle with Bellator in deep stretch. Corey Braden guided the winner to victory in a new life mark of 1:50 1/5 while Jeff Nisonger directed the second place finisher. Greybeard finished one-half length shy in third. Colonial Downs is dark on Friday. A ten race program will be carded Saturday beginning at 1:00 PM.  by Darrell Wood, for Colonial Downs  

"Racing Under Saddle" Exhibition, T-Shirt Giveaway & Driver's Bicycle Race Highlight "Back to the Track" Promotion Sunday October 5 at Colonial Downs. (NEW KENT, VA --- 9/30/14) ---- Colonial Downs will host a "Back to the Track" promotion Sunday October 5th that features a "racing under saddle" exhibition race, t-shirt giveaway, harness driver's bicycle race, and bingo games that are based on race results. Member tracks of the United States Trotting Association (USTA) each are holding a "Back to the Track" event in 2014 and Colonial Downs has a list of events Sunday geared to fans of all ages. The first ever "racing under saddle" exhibition race at Colonial will be a non-betting event but will offer $3,000 in prize money. This is a hybrid of harness and thoroughbred racing that is popular in Europe. A field of five female harness trainers will sit atop their respective trotters instead of in the sulky, and will compete 1 ¼ miles around Colonial's entire oval, encountering both turns over the country's largest harness track. This exhibition will be held after the third harness race at approximately 1:45 PM. Six of Colonial's harness drivers will sit on top of two wheels in another non-betting competition later in the card, but their hardware features handlebars and pedals versus the shafts and aerodynamic aspects of a sulky. The first ever Agee's bicycle race will be contested at the distance of one-quarter mile after the seventh harness race, and the bikes will be given away via prize drawings as soon as the race is over. All fans will receive a free harness racing bingo card on Sunday and compete for $500 in prize money. Winning spaces on the bingo cards will be determined by race results, and the first five participants to complete an "X" on their card will win $100 each. The first 400 adults will also receive a free "Back to the Track" t-shirt and after each race, the winning driver will give distribute children's tees via a t-shirt toss. Other events include drawings for unique rides in the starter's car and winner's circle presentations, live music with the York River Concert Band, magic and juggling courtesy of Jonathan Austin, and a kids foot race on the track after the last harness race. Colonial Downs offers a Sunday $18 Family 'n Friends 4-Pack special, where four attendees can get admission, programs, tip sheets, hot dogs and soft drinks for $18 when they present a 4-Pack coupon which is available at Gates open at 12:30 PM and racing starts at 1:00 PM. Darrell Wood

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