(WOODTOCK, VA — 9/23/16) —- As Shenandoah Downs prepares for the third weekend of pari-mutuel harness racing in its inaugural campaign in Woodstock, another influx of horse entries for the Saturday and Sunday programs has driven the total number of races to 22.
Of the 74 horses entered Saturday, 22 will be making their first start at Shenandoah. Of Sunday’s 65 in-to-go, 15 will make be making their Woodstock bow. Eleven races have been carded both days, and trifecta betting will be offered on every race.
Saturday’s featured race is an $8,000 Open Handicap Trot, and the top two finishers from last weekend’s showcase event will battle again. Gerry Longo’s Explosive Muscles wired the field in a meet tying best 1:57 1/5, while the Tyler Stillings trained and driven Mistress Valentine was second, two lengths behind. On opening day, both were victorious in separate races, and Mistress Valentine crossed in that same 1:57 1/5 mark. The former has earned $131,364 while the latter has amassed $343,828. Interestingly, the pair are 3-1 co-second early favorites in Saturday’s tenth race. Morning line pick is the Roger Hammer trained entry of Southwind Glider and Silver Sierra.
Also on Saturday, a pair of classy pacers look to either extend or re-establish win streaks. B Blissful, a 12 year old Blissful Hall gelding trained by Jimmy Viars, seeks his fifth straight win at Shenandoah. He has won handily the past two weekends, and collected another pair during the County Fair meet in Woodstock in early September. Vertigo Hanover, a 10 year old The Panderosa gelding conditioned by Henry Lewis, had his five race Shenandoah win streak snapped last Saturday. He had won four at that same County Fair meet, then was triumphant on opening day of the pari-mutuel campaign.
Through four race days thus far, Tyler Shehan sits atop the driver standings with seven wins while Roger Plante Jr. and Gerry Longo are tied for second with five apiece. Chuck Perry and Frank Milby are deadlocked for third with four victories each. Shehan has dominated races in which he has competed. The 33 year old reinsman has 13 “in the money” finishes in just 15 starts and has a winning percentage of 46%.
Gerry Longo has an impressive 50% win percentage with horses he trains. The 71 year old, who shipped his stable in from Running Aces, has five wins from only ten starts, and has a second and third place finish as well. Renfrow Hauser and Jimmy Viars are tied for the runner-up spot with three wins each.
Fastest pacing mile thus far belongs to John’s Dream, who had a scorching 1:52 1/5 winning effort opening day in the Virginia Breeders 3 Year Old Colt/Gelding Pace.
Post time both Saturday and Sunday are 1 PM. Gates open at 11 AM. More details are at www.shenandoahdowns.com and www.virginiahorseracing.com.