The 100th year of harness racing at the Shenandoah County Fair in Woodstock kicked off Wednesday afternoon under sunny skies and in front of a large, appreciative crowd. A card of eight races was contested at the opener of a four day non-wagering meet, which continues through Saturday, September 2nd.
Two year olds took center stage in the first pair. Susan Viars’ pacer, Lemonaideshine, and Dr. Scott Woogen’s trotter, Massive Solution, crossed the finish line in front by three and ten lengths respectively. The remaining six races saw an about face in results — close finishes where the margin of defeat was by one length or less and in several cases, a nose or a neck.
In all, driver Chuck Perry guided five horses to the winners circle including a dead heat victory in the fourth. He piloted Eileen Lineweaver’s Desired Lady in a head to head battle with Just Jack in the final quarter, and the pacing duo crossed together in 2:10 3/5. Desired Lady won the rematch In the day’s second heat, beating her nemesis by a nose in a wire-to-wire effort in 2:06 3/5.
Another of Perry’s triumphs came aboard pacer P L Dragon, who scored a thrilling victory by a neck over BP Burner in the first of two heats. The victor, who made a three wide move from behind entering the final turn, finished in 2:01 1/5, fastest time of the day. Betsy Brown’s BP Burner stepped up one notch and captured the second heat by a length over Graceful Pace Farm’s Hot Rod Pete. The 5 year old victor, who set a career mark of 1:53 4/5 April 9th at Rosecroft, crossed in 2:02 1/5 Wednesday.
A pair of trotting heats closed out the program, and were authored by drivers Perry and Woogen respectively aboard Pegasus Man and Connie Keeper. The former, a 10 year old gelding, won his 15th career race while the latter, a 7 year old mare with $147,000 in earnings, got career victory number 16. They finished in 2:02 1/5 and 2:01 4/5.
The second annual Shenandoah Downs pari-mutuel meet will begin Saturday September 16th and continue through October 15th. Racing will take place every Saturday and Sunday at 1 PM. Both parking and admission are free, and win, place, show, exacta and trifecta betting will be available to wager every race. Opening day also features a “Hops ‘n Hooves” festival where fans can sample area craft beers and chili while enjoying the races. Details are at shenandoahdowns.com.