The first ever spring pari-mutuel harness racing season at Shenandoah Downs — scheduled to begin April 1 and continue thru May 14 — will offer a slate of promotions to lure race fans including a unique “Own a Horse for a Day” promotion on three separate weekends. Twenty-four lucky contestants will vie for a total of $12,000 in purse money during the meet.
Eight “Own a Horse for a Day” fans will be selected at random on the first, third and final weekend in April. Each winner will randomly draw a horse in a specified contest race that day. They will get to spend time in the paddock with their horse, enjoy complimentary lunch and most importantly, keep the purse money their horse earns in a $4,000 race. The popular promotion is sponsored by the Virginia Harness Horse Association.
Two premium giveaway days are planned. Fans that attend opening day festivities will receive a free commemorative Stadium Seat Cushion while those attending the April 22 card will get a free Shenandoah Downs Barbecue Apron. The track’s Mountain Racing Series events — the $25,000 Blue Ridge Open Pace and $25,000 Alleghany Open Trot — will be held April 22 as well.
Small animals will get their moment in the spotlight this spring. A trio of Miniature Horse Races will complement pari-mutuel action on Sunday April 16 while Corgi dogs will battle on the track April 30.
The Shenandoah Valley’s largest Easter Egg Hunt, with 3,000 plastic eggs, will take place Saturday April 8 between races. Additional family entertainment that day will include a magic show, face painting, inflatables, a petting zoo and an appearance by the Easter Bunny.
Regional bands like the Skillbilly’s, the Seven Bends Band, Chad See & The Timber Ridge Band and the Surf Jaguars will perform on the Mountain View Concert Stage on key event afternoons.
The Harness Horse Youth Foundation will host a day camp for fans 12 years of age and older at the Woodstock oval on April 29. Participants will have hands on time with horses in the backstretch beginning with morning training at 8 AM. Cost to attend is $35 — which includes lunch — and is available at hhyf.org.
For the first time ever, Shenandoah Downs will offer wagering on the May 6 Kentucky Derby. The “Run for the Roses” simulcast will follow that day’s live harness race card which begins at a special time of 2:30 PM. The Shenandoah Valley’s largest Fancy Hat Contest will take place between the final harness race and the Derby.
Races will take place every Saturday and Sunday at 1 PM including Easter Sunday and Mothers Day. Parking and admission are always free at Shenandoah Downs. The 7-week April/May session marks the first spring harness meet to be held in Virginia since 1998, when the inaugural standardbred campaign at Colonial Downs in New Kent took place.
The Shenandoah simulcast signal will be streamed on Dish-TV for the first time ever so fans around the country can wager Virginia races at simulcast outlets and online via Twinspires, TVG, Xpressbet and NYRAbets.
Shenandoah Downs is located at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds at I-81, Exit 283 in Woodstock, halfway between Harrisonburg and Winchester. Complete meet details are available at shenandoahdowns.com.