Driver Billy Carter directed a late surge aboard William Daggett Jr. and Lawrence Vucovic’s McNeil Z Tam on Saturday October 8 en route to a one length triumph in the inaugural $25,000 Blue Ridge Open Handicap Pace at Shenandoah Downs.
The Jennifer Sansone trainee, a 5-year-old Sweet Lou gelding, exited the final turn in fourth — three and one-half lengths behind front stepping Shane Adam who authored quarter fractions of :27 1/5, :55 4/5 and 1:24 3 /5. In the straightaway, McNeil Z Tam powered past A Major Omen, Freak On A Leash and the leader just in time to trip the timer in 1:54 1/5.
The victory pushed the winner’s bankroll over the $100,000 mark. Sansone’s pacer won in identical fashion two weeks ago in Woodstock. He was fourth coming out of the turn and won by 1 ½ lengths in 154.0. He wired the field in his first Shenandoah start September 17 in 1:54 2/5. The upset winner returned $42.40.
Gerald Longo’s A Major Omen, who left from outside post seven, finished a length behind in second with Todd Warren aboard while Danilo Premovic’s Shane Adam took third.
The victory was one of four driver Billy Carter had on the Saturday card. The Shenandoah regular also scored with Sure R Lookin Good, Lucky Day Charms and Theorem.
In the $25,000 Alleghany Open Trot, Star Razor accomplished a feat no other horse at the current meet had succeeded in doing — winning from post position eight. Prior entrants had been 0-for-22 before gates swung opened for the Alleghany.
Trainer Nick Callahan’s 4-year-old Dejarmbro gelding competed in the back part of the field early, content to watch 2021 Horse of the Meet Vulcan Hanover cut initial panels of :28.0, :57 2/5 and 1:27 1/5. Star Razor and reinsman Fern Paquet Jr. sat sixth through the half, then came three-wide at the third marker before taking control in the final turn. Star Razor never looked back, crossing in 1:56 3/5, 3 ¼ lengths ahead of runner-up Jack Vernon. Campbellini took third.
The winner, who Callahan co-owns with Delaware based Yorwollahan Racing Team and Gregory Godbout, returned $6.60. Star Razor now has ten wins from 16 starts in 2022 and earnings of $101,695. In his career, the consistent pacer has 25 top three finishes from 29 outings.
With those two races — that helped showcase both mountain ranges Shenandoah Downs is nestled between — the Valley oval reached its halfway point of the fall meet.
The season continues through November 6 with racing on Friday at 3 PM and Saturday at 1 PM this week. During the final three weeks, the race dates will shift to Saturday and Sunday — beginning the weekend of October 22/23 — with a 1 PM post.
For the first time ever, fans can “Harness the Mountain Magic” by wagering Shenandoah Downs racing action via TVG, XpressBet, TwinSpires and NYRABets. Live video steaming is available through those four partner sites and also at shenandoahdows.com.