(WOODSTOCK, VA. —- 9/17/2016)—- Trainer/driver Gerry Longo’s Explosive Muscles captured Saturday’s $7,500 featured Open Handicap Trot in wire-to-wire fashion at Shenandoah Downs as the inaugural pari-mutuel race meet in Woodstock, Virginia continued.
Longo captained the 6 year old Muscle Mass gelding to his third straight victory. The last pair of wins have come at Shenandoah’s newly renovated half mile oval while the first came at Running Aces. Explosive Muscle opened strong in Saturday’s first race, carrying a four length margin into the opening quarter. Mistress Valentine closed the gap to one-quarter length as the field turned for home though, but Longo’s pacer met the challenge and won by two in 1:57 1/5. Out of the Balanced Image mare, Oaklea Odessa, Explosive Muscles earned his eighth win of 2016.
The 71-year-old Longo, who also scored with Magnifique, was the oldest driver that competed on the card. On the equine side, a trio of 14-year-olds, whose careers are soon coming to an end, competed in different events Saturday. Expresso Forte, Fox Valley Armor and Whitesand Hooligan came to Woodstock with a combined 1,107 starts and 150 wins .
While the latter two both finished fifth in their respective races, Expresso Forte, who finished second, notched a surprise victory courtesy of a disqualification. The original winner, Last Chance Harvey, lost the top spot for causing interference to the runner-up in the stretch. Expresso Forte was driven to victory by Joey Mapes. The Precious Bunny gelding is out of the Abercrombie mare, Shopping List. This was his first win of the year and 53rd career triumph. He has now made 430 career starts.
Driver Jeff Lieberman connected in back-to-back, coast-to-coat triumphs in the second and third races with Acadia As and Bombay Away. The former crossed in a season’s best 1:58 3/5 while the latter won his second straight at Shenandoah, increased his lifetime bankroll to over $307,000, and triggered the fastest mile of the day, a 1:55 3/5 effort.
Dr. Scott Woogen, President of the Virginia Harness Horsemen’s Association (VHHA), also wired the field with his 4 year old trotting mare, Peoplesayimnogood. His charge won handily by 5 1/2 lengths and crossed in 2:00 3/5. The finishing time was one-fifth of a second slower than the daughter of Lear Jetta recorded in a victory during the Shenandoah County Fair September 2nd.
Shenandoah Downs will host an eleven race card of pari-mutuel racing Sunday with first post at 1 PM