This weekend, the curtain will fall on the inaugural season of pari-mutuel harness racing at Shenandoah Downs with an 11 race card on Saturday and a 13 race card on Sunday.
Racing Secretary Mike Wandishin added a bit of drama to Sunday’s closing day by scheduling a race that pits the two main “Horse of the Meet” candidates against each other. B Blissful and Last Chance Harvey bring nearly identical credentials into the showdown. The clash has been carded as Race 13, and it will be the final event of the day and meet.
B Blissful, a Jimmy Viars trainee who has won four straight at Shenandoah Downs and six straight overall, will face five other pacers including Last Chance Harvey, who has won three of four at the meet and five of six overall. Henry Lewis’s charge actually reached the winner’s circle in all four his seasonal starts, but was disqualified and placed second on September 17th. The former’s best time in Woodstock is 1:56 4/5 while the latter’s is 1:57 1/5. Last Chance Harvey is the 2-1 early favorite though while B Blissful is second choice at 5-2.
Sunday’s marathon program also features a pair of $8,000 Open Handicap events — a five horse trot that has been carded as the 9th race and a seven horse pace that immediately follows. Roger Hammer’s Silver Sierra looks for his second straight Open Handicap victory in the trot while Gerry Longo’s Magnifique goes for her fourth straight victory in the pace.
Heading into final weekend, Tyler Shehan sits atop the driver standings with 13 wins while Frank Milby is just two back with 11. Gerry Longo leads all trainers with eight wins and Herman Hagerman is next with six. A trio of conditioners are tied for third with five each — Jimmy Viars, Amanda Jackson and Lawrence Cooper.
Gates open at 11 AM both days and races begin at 1 PM. The first 1,000 fans each day will receive a free $5 betting voucher courtesy of the Virginia Harness Horsemen’s Association.