Debbie’s Peanut, John’s Dream, Motel Molly and Speedy Taxi all scored Virginia Breeder’s divisional championship victories Saturday, as Shenandoah Downs ushered in a new era of standardbred racing in the Commonwealth. The newly renovated Woodstock, Virginia half mile oval played host to ten pari-mutuel races and a four-pack of non-betting $40,000 three year old stakes races.
Debbie’s Peanut upset Cicada’s Song in wire-to-wire fashion in the 3 year old filly trot. The daughter of CR Renegade got to the front early and maintained a several length lead throughout the mile. Cicada’s Song, who won the 2 year old championship a year ago at Oak Ridge, closed the gap in mid stretch but couldn’t catch the leader. Debbie’s Peanut triggered fractions of :30.0, :59.3 and 1:29 2/5, then crossed in 1:59 3/5. Out of the Cumin mare, GV’s Villantina, the victor is owned by Deborah Warnick, trained by Scott Warnick and was driven by Frank MIlby. It was Debbie’s Peanut’s first lifetime win.
In the 3 year old colt/gelding pace, John’s Dream took command of the race from Hillbillyfairytale before the half, opened up by a dozen lengths at the third marker and surged en route to an eye opening 1:52 1/5 winning mile. The son of Dream Away, who won the 2 year old title last fall, prepped at the Woodstock half miler by going 3-for-3 during the recent Shenandoah County Fair meet. Driver Chuck Perry, who also owns and trains the winner, crossed the half in :55.0 and hit the three quarters in 1:23.0. John’s Dream now has 19 “in the money” finishes in 21 lifetime starts, and has earnings just shy of $200,000. The final time is the fastest ever at Shenandoah, which has had a 99 year tradition of Fair racing.
Motel Molly, winner of last fall’s 2 year old filly championship pace, added another trophy to her collection by repeating as a 3 year old. The Veeza filly set a new life mark Saturday, finishing in 1:57 4/5 for driver/trainer/owner Mark Gray. After Hot Hot Jenna cut the first three fractions in :29 4/5, :59.0 and 1:27 3/5, Motel Molly went outside in the turn and in mid-stretch, eased by en route to victory. Flying Pirate was second, a length back, and Hot Hot Jenna was third.
Speedy Taxi and Elton J, winner of last year’s 2 year old colt/gelding trot, both engaged in a thrilling head to head duel throughout the entire final quarter of Saturday’s 3 year old clash. At the wire, Renfrow Hauser’s Speedy Taxi was a neck better than Carlo Poliseno’s Elton J in 2:01 1/5. Tyler Shehan guided the winner, who had a pair of preps at Woodstock’s Fair races. Elton J was the front stepper early until Speedy Taxi came outside at third marker, where the duo met stride for stride.
Championship tophies were presented by Racing Secretary Mike Wandishin and members of Terry Kibler’s family. Mr. Kibler heads up the Fair racing program at the Shenandoah County Fair. Opening weekend continues Sunday with a ten race card at 1:00 PM.