B Blissful cemented his status as a “Horse of the Meet” candidate on Sunday by staying perfect at the Shenandoah Downs inaugural meet. The 12 year old Blissful Hall gelding had won a race during each of the three race weekends so far, and he put that streak on the line against five other conditioned pacers in the finale Sunday.
Not surprisingly, the Jimmy Viars trainee was sent off as the heavy betting choice but he made it interesting initially. Cool Hand Lucas took control early and authored the mile’s first three fractions while B Blissful paced in fifth through the half. Driver Frank Milby guided the eventual winner outside at that point and kept his first over position until the top of the stretch when he finally caught the front stepper. B Blissful crossed in 1:57 1/5, 2 1/2 lengths over runner-up DVC Freewaytofame.
“Jimmy (Viars) deserves a ton of credit for keeping that horse sharp,” said Racing Secretary Mike Wandishin. “Older horses often have lots of quirks and it’s a challenge to keep them racing consistently.” The victory pushed B Blissful’s lifetime bankroll over the $300,000 level, and he won for the 9th time in 16 starts this year.
Justa Party Animal kept his own streak alive by winning for the third straight week at Shenandoah. Trainer Amanda Jackson and driver Roger Plante have teamed up for all three. On Sunday, he overcame early interference but was still last at the third fraction. The 3 year old Skydancer Hanover gelding surged in the final turn though and took the lead from About The Benjamns. The victor, owned by Larry Jackson of Burkeville, Virginia, crossed in 2:01 2/5.
Betsy Brown made her first drive of the fall meet count as she piloted Calcutta to victory in a $4500 conditioned trot. Brown, who trains the 7 year old Tom Ridge mare for Terry Kibler, edged another of her trainees — Molly B’Golly — by a neck margin in 2:00 4/5. Between the current pari-mutuel meet and the four day Shenandoah County Fair meet that preceded it, the two trotters have combined for 13 “in the money” finishes in 14 starts.
The inaugural Shenandoah Downs season comes to an end this coming weekend with cards slated Saturday and Sunday at 1 PM. A seafood fest will take place Saturday and free admission is on tap Sunday. The Virginia Harness Horsemen, in appreciation for great fan support this meet, will give the first 1,000 fans both Saturday and Sunday a free betting voucher. More information is available at www.shenandoahdowns.com and at www.virginiahorseracing.com.