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WOODSTOCK, VA  ---- Harness racing driver Fern Paquet Jr. reached the winners circle three times Saturday, including one aboard Open Handicap Trot winner Beguin Dugoutier F, to help clinch his first driving championship at Shenandoah Downs. The 53-year-old reinsman competed at the Woodstock oval for the first time and led the driver's colony with 20 wins. Tyler Shehan, Billy Carter and John MacDonald -- who also was new to Shenandoah --- tied for second with 16 wins apiece. Even though four wins separated first from second, Paquet's title was not secure until late in Saturday's card when he connected in the tenth and twelfth race.   Corey Kreiser won the trainer's title which also came down to the meet's final races. Kreiser's three wins the day prior created some category separation heading into the finale. His Play To The Crowd, Rydia Hanover and Call Me Thefireman all won Friday and provided a two-win cushion. Brandy Wine --- who had three wins on closing weekend --- was second with 12 and Marna Shehan finished third with 11.   Horse of the Meet honors went to Call Me Thefireman, who won three prior races in Woodstock before another triumph on Friday. The 4-year-old Wishing Well gelding scored once in the VHHA Matinee Meet --- which preceded the extended meet --- and followed with a pair of runner-up finishes. He concluded the meet though with three straight wins. Kreiser also owns the trotter, who set a lifetime mark of 1:57.0 October 9 with John MacDonald in the sulky.   Other horses authored solid meets and were in contention for honors. Barkey Counts' Penn, a 10-year-old Master Glide gelding with $448,000 in earnings, collected four wins in five starts. John Kreiser's Rydia Hanover had three wins including a life mark of 1:55.1 which she took in wire-to-wire fashion Friday. Jp Houle Stables' trotter Beguin Dugoutier F won three times, all in Open or Open Handicap classes. The 9-year-old Quaker Jet gelding's fastest time locally came in 1:57.0. Virginia Ehrhart's Paging Doctor Teo kicked off the meet with three straight dominating victories then broke at the start of his next out. He finished second on closing weekend.   Former Horse of the Meet and current track record holder John's Dream started out the meet slow but finished with a flourish. The 7-year-old Dream Away gelding, who paced a 1:52 1/5 mile during the track's first season in 2016, was winless early on between the Matinee Meet and Shenandoah Downs seasons. In the final three weeks though, he captured a lower level conditioned race, a $10,000 Virginia Breeders Aged race, and the Open Handicap on closing day. A "Horse for the Course", John's Dream has won 23 of 31 races over the past five years in Woodstock and has $305,719 in overall career earnings.   For details on the 2021 season and other developments until then, visit shenandoahdowns.com and vhha.net.   by Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs

WOODSTOCK, VA --- 10/16/2020 ---- Penn, Rydia Hanover and Call Me Thefireman each scored a win Friday at Shenandoah Downs and furthered their respective consideration in Horse of the Meet discussions. The five-week season in Woodstock concludes Saturday.   Barkley Counts' Penn wired the field for his fourth win of the meet but had to hold off fast closing Miss Flora at the wire. The 10-year-old Master Glide gelding won his 51st lifetime race and crossed in 2:00 4/5 by a nose over the runner-up. Penn was driven to victory by Scott Woogen for the second straight week in a $4,000 Amateur Driving Trot. The Marna Shehan trainee pushed his career bankroll to $448,140.   John Kreiser's Rydia Hanover also wired the field in her $5,000 conditioned pace but she had it easier and cruised to a 4 3/4 length win in a lifetime best 1:55 1/5. The Cory Kreiser trainee won her third straight race and second consecutive with John MacDonald in the sulky. The 3-year-old Captaintreacherous filly authored a :56/0 half then crossed the third marker in 1:24 4/5 before powering onward. She won for the 11th time in 20 career starts. Rydia Hanover is trained by Cory Kreiser.   The Kreiser/MacDonald combo connected again later in the card with trotter Call Me Thefireman, who also led all the way around without being challenged. The 4-year-old Wishing Stone gelding won his third straight in the Valley and fourth overall. His first came at the VHHA Matinee Meet which was held at the Shenandoah Fairgrounds prior to the current extended meet. On Friday, he passed the third fraction with a 4 1/2 length cushion and ended up finishing two lengths the best over Paging Doctor Teo --- who also has three wins this meet --- in 1:57 4/5.   A spirited battle for top driver and trainer honors will play out over Saturday's twelve race card finale which begins at 1:00 PM. Fern Paquet Jr. sits atop the driver standings with 17 wins. Tyler Shehan and Billy Carter are two back with 15 each and John MacDonald has 14. On the trainer side, Cory Kreiser's triple Friday gave him a two-win advantage over Marna Shehan, 13-11. Brandy Wine is one back with ten.   by Darrell Wood, for Shenanoah Downs

(WOODSTOCK, VA. --- 10/10/2020) ---- John's Dream, Hot Hot Jenna and Speedy Taxi won respective $10,000 Virginia Breeders races for harness racing aged competitors Saturday at Shenandoah Downs as the Woodstock oval completed its fourth weekend of a five-week fall season.   John's Dream continued a remarkable streak of success at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds oval with a victory in the first Aged Pace division. The 7-year-old Dream Away gelding wired the field in 1:54 1/5 and beat runner-up Rusty's Houdini by 1 3/4 lengths. With his 36th lifetime win, John's Dream's bankroll went over the $300,000 mark. Since 2015, he has made 30 starts in Virginia --- 28 in Woodstock and two at Oak Ridge in 2015 when he was a freshman --- and won 22 of those. John's Dream won a Virginia Breeders championship title as a 2 and 3-year-old and has won an Aged Breeders race now in back-to-back years. Chuck Perry owns, trains and drives the consistent pacer.   Hillbilly Fairytale finished third.   Mark Gray's Hot Hot Jenna, a 7-year-old pacing mare, wired the field in the second Breeders division in 1:57 4/5. The daughter of Jenna's Beach Boy also has a strong history in the Commonwealth. She was a Breeders runner-up as a 2-year-old at Oak Ridge in 2015, finished third in the '16 final at Shenandoah as a sophomore and has won an aged race, like John's Dream, in consecutive years. She now has 15 wins, 14 seconds and 14 thirds from 119 starts and with Saturday's score, saw her earnings top $90,000. Gray owns, trains and drives Hot Hot Jenna.   Sketcher finished second and One Proud Diamond was third.   Hot Hot Jenna   Speedy Taxi edged Zsa Zsa Dabor by one-half length in the Aged Trot to win his ninth career race. Also seven, the Gregory Pecs gelding crossed in 2:01 1/5 and was able to remain flat after encountering previous breaking issues at Shenandoah this year. He also has had success in past Breeders events. The Renfrow Hauser trainee was second in '15 as a freshman then won the '16 title as a 3-year-old. Chuck Perry was in the sulky and Arthur Hauser of Mount Airy, North Carolina owns Speedy Taxi.   Flaming Trix was third.   The final racing weekend kicks off Friday with a card at 2 PM and continues Saturday at 1 PM.   Darrell Wood    

WOODSTOCK, VA --- Nvrfearlloydishere dominated the $46,800 Virginia Breeders 3-Year-Old Colt Pace Saturday at Shenandoah Downs as eight divisional harness racing titles were contested on a picture-perfect fall afternoon in Woodstock. A total of $363,575 in combined purse monies was awarded.   The 3-year-old Rusty's All In gelding won his eighth in a row and competed in the final much like he did in the prep a week earlier when he wired the field. Eddie Davis Jr. drove Nvrfearlloydishere in the eight-horse gathering and at the three-quarters mark, already had a seven-length cushion. The Arlene Cameron trainee hit that fraction in 1:24 1/5, opened up by ten at the top of the stretch and crossed twelve lengths ahead of runner-up K J Michael in 1:52 4/5.   The finishing time established a new life mark for the winner and was just three-fifths of a second off the track record time set by John's Dream in 2016.   Nvrfearlloydishere is owned/bred by Pam Wagner and has won 14 of his 18 lifetime starts. During his current winning streak, the dynamic pacer has led at every quarter fraction. He swept the recent Maryland Sire Stake series at Ocean Downs and completed his Shenandoah prep in 1:56 4/5.   The Cameron and Wagner trainer-owner duo connected three other times in Breeders races Saturday. Madisonsallin went gate-to-wire in the $45,575 2-Year-Old Filly Pace while Trents A Lock prevailed in the $45,675 2-Year-Old Colt Trot and Cate's A Keeper took honors in the $43,800 3-Year-Old Filly Trot.   Madisonsallin, fresh off an eight-length win in her prep a week earlier, got to the front ahead of stablemate Kelseys For Real and maintained a 1 1/2 length lead twice around the oval. The Rusty's All In filly crossed in 1:57 2/5, over two seconds faster than the prior Saturday's 1:59 3/5. Eddie Davis Jr. drove in the winning effort.   Trents A Lock went outside of front stepping stablemate K J Wallace at the half, powered to the front shortly after and never looked back en route to a 2:04 1/5 victory in his freshmen title bout. The consistent Lockkeeper gelding won his third straight and in six life starts, has finished second or better in each. John Wagner was in the sulky. K J Wallace, co-owned by Wagner with Dr. Scott Woogen, was the runner-up.   Eddie Davis kept Cate's A Keeper in the pocket behind stablemate K J Deb through the top of the stretch, surged past the filly midway through final straightaway and captured championship honors in her title clash. A daughter of Lockkeeper as well, Cate's A Keeper finished in 1:58 3/5, 3 1/2 lengths over K J Deb. She won for the ninth time and pushed her bankroll to $107,873.   Caviart Skipper kicked off Breeders action Saturday with the most exciting finish of the eight, beating Harveys All In by a nose in the $46,925 2-Year-Old Colt Pace. Tyler Shehan directed the winning effort in 1:57 3/5 while the runner-up cut initial panels in :29 1/5, :59 2/5 and 1:28 3/5. Fourth through the half, Caviart Skipper improved before the third fraction then met up with Harveys All In for a great stretch duel. Marna Shehan trains the winner for the Caviart Farms of Vienna.   Hillbilly Kisses went off stride at the start of the $43,400 3-Year-Old Filly Pace but rebounded in time to get her picture taken. After the early break, reinsman Frank Milby guided Amanda Jackson's trainee into striking position turning for home, but was still fourth. She rallied late and passed Breeze Away B --- who went off stride --- Fire Me Up and runner-up Caviart Caroline to win by one length in 1:56 4/5. The victor is owned by Hillbilly Haven Farms in Burkeville. Hillbilly Kisses finished second in the prep to Breeze Away B, who had won nine of 15 coming into the final.   2019 2-Year-Old Colt Trot Champion Air Time shook off bridesmaid status as a 3-year-old and got to the winners circle, wiring a field that included stablemates Chauffer and Riddle Me This. The 1:59 2/5 effort was authored by Art Stafford for trainer Carlo Poliseno and owner Jane Dunavant of Kenbridge, who got first place share of a $45,300 purse. The Dusty Winner gelding won his fourth straight race ,crossing 1 1/2 lengths in front of Arthur Lisi's Rocky Bomber. Dunavant's Chauffer, last year's champ, took third.   Pride of Windswept captured the $45,300 2-Year-Old Filly Trot quite easily as four of the six participants broke stride and were distanced at the finish. The Shaun Callahan trainee won the Maryland Sire Stake final in her most prior start and was never challenged Saturday. The Charlie De Vie filly crossed in 2:03.0 with Frank Milby in the bike. The winner, now 4-for-5 in her young career, is owned by John & Sarah Swart of Oakton. Debbie Warnick's Armed Senorita finished second and Arthur Hauser's Ollie El was third.   A slate of Virginia Breeders Aged Stakes will highlight this Saturday's card (October 10) at Shenandoah. Two more weekends remain in the current fall season. Post time on Friday is 2 PM and Saturday's first post is at 1:00 PM.  

Woodstock, WV — Celebrity Farms’ Celebrity Rolex has dominated in all his harness racing outings at Shenandoah Downs.. The 4-year-old Trixton gelding, making just his fourth lifetime start, wired the field in a $4,000 conditioned race and won by 8-3/4 lengths on Friday (Oct. 2). He crossed the finish line in 1:57.2, one-fifth of a second faster than his previous best which he recorded a week ago. The Jennifer Sansone trainee has led every step of the way in all three starts. His margins of victory have been most impressive. He won by 17 lengths on opening day and then by 8-1/4 lengths last week. Fern Paquet Jr. has driven Celebrity Rolex in all three of his starts at Shenandoah Downs. Paging Doctor Teo has dominated too and has been in front nearly as often. The 5-year-old Calchips Brute gelding won by two lengths on Friday, 5-1/4 a week ago and 7-3/4 lengths on opening day. He finished in 1:58.3 today after a pair of 1:58.1 efforts. The Neal Ehrhart trainee has been in front at every panel through the run except on Friday, when he was momentarily second at the top of the stretch just one-quarter of a length behind Wesley Hanover. The trotter is owned by Virginia Erhardt and was driven by Billy Carter in all three wins at Shenandoah Downs. The fastest mile of the day was authored by Roger Hammer’s Artists Ruffles who won his 25th career race in 1:54.1. The 6-year-old Real Artist gelding came outside of Next Shot at the first marker, took control in the turn and never looked back. He crossed the finish line 3-1/2 lengths the best for his first win of 2020. Vicki Lynn Fair co-owns with Hammer, who drives and trains. Shenandoah Downs hosts the 23rd annual $363,575 Virginia Breeder’s Champions Day program Saturday (Oct. 3) beginning at 1 p.m. Races are streamed live at shenandoahdowns.com. by Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs

(WOODSTOCK, VA --- 10/2/2020) ---- Trotters Celebrity Rolex and Paging Doctor Teo each won their third straight harness racing race today at Shenandoah Downs as the fall meet rolled into its third weekend.   Celebrity Farms' Celebrity Rolex has dominated in all his Woodstock outings. The four-year-old Trixton gelding, making just his fourth lifetime start, wired the field in a $4,000 conditioned race and won by 8 3/4 lengths. He crossed in 1:57 2/5, one-fifth of a second faster than his previous best which he recorded a week ago. The Jennifer Sansone trainee has led every step of the way in all three starts. His margins of victory have been most impressive --- he won by 17 lengths on opening day then by 8 1/4 last week. Fern Paquet Jr. has driven in all three.   Paging Doctor Teo has dominated too and has been in front nearly as often. The five-year-old Calchips Brute gelding won by two lengths today, 5 1/4 a week ago and 7 3/4 lengths on opening day. He finished in 1:58 3/5 today after a pair of 1:58 1/5 efforts. The Neal Ehrhart trainee has been in front at every panel through the run except this afternoon, when he was momentarily second at the top of the stretch just one-quarter length behind Wesley Hanover. The trotter is owned by Virginia Erhardt and was driven by Billy Carter in all three wins.   Fastest mile of the day was authored by Roger Hammer's Artists Ruffles who won his 25th career race in 1:54 1/5. The six-year-old Real Artist gelding came outside of Next Shot at the first marker, took control in the turn and never looked back. He crossed 3 1/2 lengths the best for his first win of 2020. Vicki Lynn Fair co-owns with Hammer, who drives and trains.   Shenandoah Downs hosts the 23rd annual $363,575 Virginia Breeder's Champions Day program Saturday beginning at 1 PM. Races are streamed live at shenandoahdowns.com.     by Darrell Wood

WOODSTOCK, VA --- The14-year-old A Fool For Mark, the 2011 Horse of the Meet at Colonial Downs, put a punctuation mark on his return to Virginia by wiring the harness racing field for his 81st win today (Friday) at Shenandoah Downs.   Dustin Ingraham's Western Ideal gelding beat six other pacers in a $4,000 claiming handicap in his 414th career start.   With Jim Meittinis in the sulky, the veteran gelding held off Lyons Johnny in deep stretch to win by one-half length. He cut fractions of :28.0, :57 4/5 and 1:26 2/5 and finished in 1:55 4/5, second fastest time of the day. The runner-up, a 12-year-old Mach Three gelding who was making his 265th start, stalked in second through most of the last half.   A Fool For Mark has bankrolled $322,863 from 39 seconds and 68 third place finishes in addition to the 81 wins. His life mark of 1:49 3/5 came as a 7-year-old at Pocono. He finished second last Friday on the Woodstock oval's opening day, his first start in Virginia since 2014.   Fastest time of the day was authored by another of Ingraham's horses --- Movie Star --- also driven by Meittinis. The four-year-old Ponder gelding crossed in a lifetime best 1:54 1/5 after passing Fritzie Pic Up Man and Cirrus De Vie in the stretch. He crossed one-half length the best for his sixth lifetime win.   Shenandoah Downs presents a 15-race card Saturday with first post at 1:00 PM. Live streaming is available at shenandoahdowns.com.   by Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs

WOODSTOCK, VA ---  When Winston Lineweaver got in the sulky behind Hillbillys All In at the recent Virginia Harness Horse Association's Matinee Meet, he was preparing to drive the two-year-old harness racing trotter in his first career start.   The September 2 outing wasn't just any ordinary start for the 78-year-old trainer/driver. That moment, at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds, marked his first return to action since having a heart attack on the same track four years prior.   On October 2, 2016, --- the first year Shenandoah Downs started racing --- Lineweaver directed Outsmart Me to a third-place finish among a field of seven pacers in a non-winners of one event. The Mauertown, Virginia native crossed the finish line and continued on to the backstretch. That's when his daughter Dee knew something was wrong.   "Dad finished the race but when he went to pull the colt up, he got tangled in the stirrup," she recalled. "The colt knew that he was loose and went towards the fence. When the colt stopped, it jarred Dad out of the bike where he was stuck and he landed on track."   Through a series of fortunate and timely occurrences, tragedy was averted. Track Superintendent John Dale Thomas and his assistant Robert "Bear" Laster arrived on the scene first. "I saw him roll off his bike so as soon as we got to him, Bear started pumping his chest." said Thomas.   Joey Mapes, who finished right behind Lineweaver and was the only driver who had not yet turned around to go back to the draw gate, stopped and called for the track ambulance which was based nearby. "The attendants checked on him for a bit to try to get him aroused," said daughter Dee. "Scott Woogen, who is a doctor and also drove in the race, came to assist and noticed immediately he was in AFib (Atrial Fibrillation). "As soon as he figured out what was going on, they shocked him and brought him back."   Lineweaver was immediately transported to the local hospital, then was transferred to Winchester where he spent ten days recovering and got a pacemaker installed.   "Talking to the judge afterwards," Dee added, "He noticed that Dad dropped his leg out of the stirrup at the third fraction and kind of leaned to one side, so he thought something was wrong but didn't know for sure until he didn't turn around to go back to the paddock."   Lineweaver's health got better and better as he recovered, and his doctor finally told him he could drive again. During the Matinee Meet, he piloted Hillbillys All In to a fourth-place finish on the first day and a runner-up finish two days later during the meet finale. "I felt like I was back home again," he said afterwards.   "I watched the man take his last breath and four years later, here he is competing again," said Thomas. "Before the race started, I went to the ambulance and made them aware of his prior heart attack and they thanked me for the heads up. We were on pins and needles during the race."   "Dad was smiling all week about being back in the sulky," said Dee, who serves as Race Secretary for both the Matinee Meet and the Shenandoah Downs extended season. "His horse raced good both days and learned a lot. He was tickled pink."   Lineweaver has competed in racing most of his life, many of which were spent on the Pennsylvania fair circuit where his other daughter Joyce currently competes. Since 1977, he has driven 1,628 winners. His best year was in 1980 when he made 503 starts for purse money and had 70 wins, good for a $135,903 bankroll. Lineweaver also made 56 matinee starts that year.   This summer, he spent time with his two grandchildren --- Dee's kids --- who helped out with duties and chores at the farm. Weston turns 16 in November and Margaret is 14. "They both enjoy racing and wanted to jog Hillbillys All In at the fam, but he's just a two-year-old and they need more experience before they can do that," he said.   If either grandchild bites, it would create a fourth generation in the sport. "I remember when I was their age," said Dee. "My mother (Eileen) preached to me about finding something else to do, that horse racing wouldn't be around to make a living in. Luckily that has not been the case. It's tough being a horseman these days though. If my kids want to pursue it and it's in their blood, I'm fine with it. I've told them they need to go to school and learn a trade but no matter what they choose to do, they need to pay bills and take care of their family. Both worked at Shenandoah Downs last year and enjoyed it. Horsemen actually fought over their services on race day."   Lineweaver's pacer, who is trained by Wayne Long for Ellen Warren, will start in a Virginia Breeder's $4,000 elimination race on Saturday (September 26) and he is expected to be back in the race bike. The family's third-generation daughters will have the final say though.   "As a daughter, it's scary to think about," said Dee. "It would be scary for any daughter to watch their Dad do something he previously had a heart attack doing. And it's at the same place where he laid on the track and had to have his heart revived. It's gut wrenching to say the least. The atmosphere at an extended meet is also different than it is at a Fair or matinee meet, which tends to be more friendly and less stressful."   "You know, my daughters pretty much tell me everything I can and can't do these days, " joked Winston. Come Saturday, he's hoping both agree to let him try to reach the winners circle for the first time since 2016.   by Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs        

WOODSTOCK, VA  ---- Driver/trainer Bill Carter swept both Open classes in back-to-back fashion Saturday in Woodstock as Shenandoah Downs concluded its fifth annual opening harness racing weekend festivities.   Carter, last year's winningest reinsman, piloted Pilgrims Lass to a wire-to-wire effort in the $7,000 Open Trot and reached the winners circle again the next race ---a $7,000 Open Pace --- with Captain McKee.   The former, who faced a full field of seven others, got away strong and authored fractions of :28 3/5, :59 1/5 and 1:28 1/5 before crossing in 1:57 1/5. The four-year-old Muscle Mass mare beat Beguin Dugoutier F by 1 1/4 lengths in earning her third win of the year.   Unlike the Open Trot, Captain Mckee only reached the front of a full field around mid-stretch. Track record holder John's Dream (1:52 1/5) took control early in the Open Pace and maintained the lead until Carrer's charge caught him just before the finish.   After an initial quarter of :28 1/5, Captain Mckee came first over before the half and remained outside of King Corona and John's Dream the next two panels. Once the leader triggered :58 2/5 and 1:26 2/5 fractions, Carter guided his four-year-old Captaintreacherous pacer past King Corona in the final turn and bested John's Dream by one length at the wire in 1:55 2/5.   Both Open winners are co-owned by William Daggett Jr. and Lawrence Vukovic.   Six Virginia Breeder's elimination races for three-year-olds kicked off the Saturday card. A trio were decided by one-half length or less.   Both of Arlene Cameron's filly trotters crossed together in the first race. Cate's A Keeper --- winner of a 2019 Virginia Breeders divisional championship as a two-year-old --- and K J Deb crossed together in 2:02 1/5. Eddie Davis Jr. and John Wagner drove respectively. The pair are both owned by Pamela Wagner and Dr. Scott Woogen.   Breeze Away B wired the field in the filly pace division in 1:56.0. Hillbilly Kisses was a game second and lost by just a half-length. The winner is seeking to repeat her championship path of last year when she won both the prep and final as a two-year-old. Breeze Away B is owned and trained by William Fletcher and was driven by Allan Davis. The runner-up was piloted by Frank Milby, is trained by Amamda Jackson and owned by her Hillbilly Haven Farms.   Caviart Sage passed front stepping Virginia Cruiser at the quarter pole, held the lead until the end but had to fend off a pesky K J Michael in deep stretch in a three-year-old colt pace elimination. The Artspeak colt crossed in 1:56 3/5, a head in front of Arlene Cameron's runner-up. The winner was driven by Tyler Shehan and is trained by Marna Shehan for the Caviart Farms of Vienna, Virginia. Dr. Scott Woogen owns the second-place finisher.   Two-year-olds will compete in a series of elimination races on Saturday, September 26. Finals of both age groups will be held on Saturday October 3.   The Shenandoah Downs meet will continue through October 17 with racing every Friday and Saturday at 2 PM. The meet is being run spectator-free and without wagering, but races are streamed live at shenandoahdowns.com.   by Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs

WOODSTOCK, VA -  Harness racing trainer Brandy Wine's Final Decision and Big N Bad won back-to-back races in the day's fastest times Friday at Shenandoah Downs as the Woodstock, Virginia oval kicked off its fifth annual racing season.   John MacDonald drove both pacers to victory in 1:55 3/5 and 1:55 4/5 respectively. Final Decision won her second lifetime start. The three-year-old Ponder filly took the lead from Hey Siri before the third fraction of her $4,500 conditioned race and never looked back. She pulled away from the field in the stretch and crossed 7 1/4 lengths ahead of Gold Star Stormie.   Big N Bad won his 55th career race in wire-to-wire fashion in his 223rd start. The Vernon Downs invader cut fractions of :27 3/5, :57 1/5 and 1:26 1/5 before powering home in the stretch to win by 4 3/4 lengths. The win pushed the 10-year-old Badlands Hanover gelding's bankroll to $746,723. A Fool For Mark, a 14-year-old Western Ideal gelding who was making his 413th start, was second. Dustin Ingraham's pacer raced at Colonial Downs from 2010 - 2014 and returned to compete in Virginia for the first time since then. He was Colonial's 2011 Horse of the Meet.   Fern Paquet Jr. won a trio of races in his first Shenandoah Downs appearance. He opened the meet with a first race win aboard Jennifer Sansone's Celebrity Rolex, prevailed in sixth with Sansone's Hugh Hefner N and in the eighth with William Popfinger's Queen Me Again. Hugh Hefner N's 1:55 4/5 finishing time tied Big N Bad's mark for second fastest of the card.   Shenandoah Downs presents a 13-race program Saturday beginning at 2 PM. A six-pack of Virginia Breeder's three-year-old elimination races kick off the card followed by respective $7,000 Open Pace and Open Trot events which have both drawn a full field of eight. The races are streamed live at www.shenandoahdowns.com.   by Darrell Wood, for Shenanoah Downs

WOODSTOCK, VA - Shenandoah Downs will open its fifth annual season of harness racing this Friday (September 18) at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds with a ten-race card beginning at 2:00 PM. Horses, trainers and racing personnel have been shipping onto the property all week preparing for the five-week stand.   Ten racing enthusiasts are also preparing to work the meet in a unique position. They will each call a complete card of racing, though none have any experience in the announcer's booth.   A month ago, the track sought out harness fans via social media who wanted to pursue this opportunity in an actual live race setting at an extended meet. Within several days, all ten announcing slots were filled. The fans selected have little or no announcing experience but showed a passion for harness racing.   Since the upcoming season will be conducted without spectators due to Covid-related precautions --- and the track had only offered on-site wagering --- the potential viewing audience is limited. At one time, track officials decided to go without an announcer but at a future planning meeting, decided to switch gears and opt for this unusual route.   "Those factors allowed us to offer first time callers a chance to spend an entire afternoon on the microphone and behind the binoculars," said Shenandoah's Darrell Wood. "These ten fans will get a chance to announce for several hours and will get to interact with judges, the chart caller and television crew. This should create a fun experience and nice memory for everyone."   Races, and the first-time announcer's calls, will be streamed live via the track's website at shenandoahdowns.com so fans can follow the action.   Racing fan Micahel Langer, who grew up in Freehold, New Jersey and has attended the Little Brown Jug for 40 years, will call Friday's opener. The 64-year-old has been a fan of the Grand Circuit for decades and follows races from Canada to New Zealand.   Richmond, Virgnia based Doug Gurney will tackle Saturday's 13 race card in which 131 horses initially entered. The program will showcase Virginia Breeder's three-year-old prep and elimination races. Gurney is a fan of both thoroughbred and harness races and was a trackside fixture at Colonial Downs from day one in 1997.   The second weekend will feature lifelong racing fan Steven Rice, a cold storage inventory technician who has visited 40 tracks, and Brad Hinton, a local enthusiast who works at Finish Line Plumbing.   The third weekend could be the most interesting. 12-year-old Woodstock resident Morgan Marston will call the Friday card and 10-year-old Dylan Dougherty will invade from Pennsylvania to call the $300,000 Virginia Breeder's Day of Champions program. Both youngsters have been tutored by legendary race caller Roger Huston who put Marston on air occasionally during the past several Shenandoah County Fair meets. Dougherty called 25 races --- in a paid position --- at the Meadville, Pennsylvania Fair this summer.   Shenandoah Downs regular Danny Ortts, who has also attended Shenandoah County Fair festivities his whole life, will kick off the fourth weekend. Jeff Jenkins, another local who used to drive at Rosecroft Raceway, will finish the weekend in the crows nest October 10.   The final weekend features thoroughbred fan Nick Hahn of Greene County, Virginia on October 16. Hahn has hosted the weekly "Off to the Races" radio show in Richmond for over 20 years and is a regular writer for "The Racing Biz". Marty Sendek, a former military officer and retired attorney, will bring the meet to its conclusion on October 17. Sendek estimates he has watched 20,000 races in his lifetime.    by Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs

WOODSTOCK, VA. - 17-year-old Cole Olsen won his first race ever as a harness racing driver Thursday at the Virginia Harness Horse Association's Matinee Meet aboard a horse that had not reached the winners circle in almost four years and a horse he had not planned to drive until just minutes before the race.   The Maryland based Olsen came to Virginia Wednesday with seven qualifying starts at Ocean Downs under his belt. He hoped to get at least five trips in the sulky over the three day meet in order to reach twelve, which would be enough receive a provisional license when he turns 18 in October.   Heading into the day's last race, Olsen accumulated five starts over the two days and assuming his afternoon was over, took his colors off. Reinsman Bill Carter got a little banged up in the race prior and when he was not able to drive his horse LL Jackpot in the finale, he called on Olsen for last minute duty.   "He (Carter) knew I warmed the horse up and when he asked me if I wanted to drive her, I ran to get my colors," said Olsen. "I thought I had a shot with the horse. It looked to be a pretty even race with the other horses in to go."   LL Jackpot sat third at the quarter in the four-horse field then came outside before the half to challenge. She remained outside of front stepping Coffee's Ready through the top of the stretch but gained enough ground in the final steps to win by a nose. Rosie's Apples rallied late outside of LL Jackpot to provide an exciting three horse finish.   "I'm sure some people think I pulled too early," explained Olsen, "But the pace slowed down in the second quarter and I wanted to put pressure on the leader. If I stayed in third, I wouldn't have been able to apply any pressure from three or four lengths behind."   LL Jackpot last won a race September 26, 2016 at Freehold Raceway. The 7-year-old mare crossed the wire today in 2:00.0 and pushed her bankroll to $49,521.   Olsen and his family are relatively new to racing but it's something he wants to evolve in. "My family just got into it last year," he said. "We grow hay and deliver it to stables and through those contacts, got into the sport and now have four horses. I enjoy training but really want to be able to drive my own horses."   Of his six drives Wednesday and Thursday, four have been on horses owned and trained by Teresa Willabus. "I warm horses up for her at Ocean Downs and she said if I ever went to a Fair meet to compete, she'd be happy to help me out and supply some horses for me to drive," he said.   Olsen will be busy Friday during the meet's final day --- he has five drives scheduled in the eight-race program. "I'm doing what I came here to accomplish, but I'm also having a great time."   by Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs      

WOODSTOCK, VA ---- 9/2/2020 -- Harness racing driver Betsy Brown won her 500th career race Wednesday at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds as the Virginia Harness Horse Association's three-day Matinee Meet kicked off.   Brown, who won her first race in the sulky in 1979, directed Believe In Him to career victory number 19 in a $2,000 Free For All Trot. The 6-year-old Conway Hall mare led at the quarter, surrendered the lead briefly to Justrestingmyeyes in the second turn, regained the lead before the half and never looked back. She crossed three lengths the best in 2:02.   Brown, a local favorite whose farm is based one mile from the track, drove Believe In Him to victory in each of the last two Shenandoah County Fair meets as well. Brown's last start prior to Wednesday was October 12 last year.   As a driver, she has made 3,869 starts and her horses have earned $1,153,596 in purse monies. As a trainer, her horses have made 5,646 starts and have reached the winners circle 826 times.   Bill Carter, the Shenandoah Downs meet's leading driver last year, won three races Wednesday including one aboard 2019 Virginia Breeders 3-Year-Old Colt/Gelding Pacing champ, Sketcher. The Elwood Tignor trainee won for the first time this year but has bagged six "in the money" finishes from just nine starts. Carter also prevailed with two of his own trainees --- Captain McKee and Pilgrims Lass.   The VHHA Matinee Meet continues Thursday and Friday with eight race programs beginning at 2 PM. The Shenandoah Downs extended meet begins September 18 and runs through October 17.   by Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs

WOODSTOCK, VA --- The Virginia Harness Horse Association's three-day "Matinee Meet" at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds kicks off Wednesday (September 2) with ten races, each featuring a $2,000 purse. First post is at 2 PM.   The lineup includes a four-pack of Free For All (FFA) events --- two for pacers and two for trotters --- along with a two-year-old race for each gait and four condition races.   Trainer Arlene Cameron has six horses entered while Roger Hammer, Renfrow Hauser and Teresa Willabus each have four in.   Track record holder John's Dream, winner of the 2019 Aged Virginia Colt/Gelding Pace, headlines the second FFA race. The 7-year-old Dream Away gelding will make his first start of 2020 for owner/trainer Chuck Perry, who also drives. John's Dream authored a 1:52 1/5 mile four years ago, fastest ever in Woodstock. He has 34 wins and a career bankroll of $293,929.   Thirteen other horses on Wednesday's card feature six-digit bankrolls including a pair seeking their 30th victory --- Joseph Offutt's Hickory Aloha and Derrick Cooper's Free Love.   Sketcher, winner of the 2019 Virginia Breeder's Three-Year-Old Colt/Gelding championship, returns to compete in the afternoon's final condition race. The Rusty's All In gelding has five top-three finishes from eight starts so far this year. He is owned and trained by Elwood Tignor and will be driven by Bill Carter.   Locally based driver Betsy Brown enters Wednesday's program with 499 career wins in the sulky. She will have four opportunities to get number 500. Brown will try with six-year-old trotting mare Believe In Him in the sixth. The James Brown trainee has won three of seven in 2020 but has been idle since mid-March. She also drives Kwitchyerbellyakin, BP Burner and Hot Rod Pete.   The meet, which replaces the annual Shenandoah County Fair harness campaign this year, continues with programs on Thursday and Friday at 2 PM. The five-week Shenandoah Downs extended meet will run from September 18 - October 17. Due to the Covid pandemic, all races will be run spectator-free. More details are at shenandoahdowns.com.   by Darrell Wood, for Shenandoah Downs

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  

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