(WOODSTOCK, VA — 8/24/16)—-Finishing touches to an extensive harness track renovation project at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds in Woodstock, Virginia are now complete. In recent days, pylons have been placed on the track, safety fencing has been added around the outer perimeter of the half mile oval and camera towers are now in place.
Several horses tested out the new half mile oval at Shenandoah Downs for the first time Wednesday morning and the initial feedback bodes well for the upcoming Fair races and the pari-mutuel meet.
“We were pleasantly surprised,” said Track Supervisor J.D. Thomas, who oversaw the $700,000 renovation along with consultant Greg Coon. “I didn’t think it would be as tight as it is. We’ll get a couple more horses on the track again tomorrow but overall, I’m very pleased.”
Locally based trainers Betsy Brown and Alvin Lineweaver guided Irish Blessing and Pistol Pete’s Dragon respectively during the morning test. “It’s exciting to see these improvements,” said Brown, who has been competing at the Shenandoah County Fair races since 1990. “The horses could get hold of the track very easily. The surface was great; it wasn’t too soft and it wasn’t too hard.”
Brown said she went two miles in 2:00.0 or better with two different horses including a trotter named Calcutta, who unofficially covered a mile in 1:59 1/5. “I’ve raced at a lot of tracks around the country and this is as nice a half mile track as I’ve been on.”
The 99th Shenandoah County Fair races will be held August 31 – September 3 at 1 PM each afternoon. The inaugural pari-mutuel meet, known as Shenandoah Downs, begins September 10th and continues every Saturday & Sunday at 1 PM through October 9th.
Opening weekend features the $320,000 Virginia Harness Breeder’s Championships, where top 2 & 3 year old Virginia-bred pacers and trotters of both sexes will compete in a series of title races worth a combined $320,000. Four sophomore divisional championships will go to post on Saturday while a four-pack of freshmen title events will be held Sunday. Both opening weekend days will feature free admission, a food truck festival, plus the first 500 fans each day 18 and older will receive a free $2 betting voucher.