Driver Todd Warren continued his torrid start at the Shenandoah Downs inaugural spring racing season with another pair of driving hat tricks this past Saturday and Sunday — which followed a pair the weekend prior.
Warren has accumulated 13 wins so far, four of which have come aboard two trotters local trainer Betsy Brown is campaigning at the Woodstock oval — Ellen’s Wish and Terry’s Watching. Warren directed both to the winners circle each weekend providing Brown a perfect 4-for-4 start to the meet.
Fastest mile of the young season was authored Sunday by Deborah Warnick’s Hulou who dominated a $6,500 conditioned race in 1:53 2/5, winning by 8 ½ lengths. The 5-year-old Sweet Lou gelding is trained by Scott Warnick and was driven by John Wagner. He triggered initial quarter times of :27 1/5, :55 3/5 and 1:24 1/5. Shenandoah’s track record of 1:52 1.5 was set by John’s Dream in 2016.
Sunday’s co-featured $10,000 Open Handicap Pace and Trot were captured respectively by Set The Pace Racing’s Alilthundadownunda and Shantae Gant’s Vulcan Hanover, who was a former “Horse of the Meet”.
Trainer Nick Roland’s pacer, who won the Open Handicap by a head last week in 1:55 4/5, got way fourth and stayed in that position until the three-quarters approach when he came outside and eased past Ideal Perfect Ten who had cut early panels of :27 4/5 and :58 1/5. Alilthundadownunda never looked back from that point, opening by two at the head of the stretch and crossing in 1:55 4/5, 1 ¾ lengths the best over Steve Wetzel’s Sea of Life. The winner, a 5-year-old Malak Uswaad gelding, pushed his bankroll over the $318,000 mark with his 33rd career score.
Vulcan Hanover, third last week in the Open Handicap Trot, took advantage of an early break by Creekside Pete — last week’s Open winner — and sailed coast-to-coast in 1:58 4/5 with Billy Carter in the bike. The 6-year-old Donato Hanover gelding has shown a knack for handling Shenandoah’s half mile oval successfully. Over the last three meets, trainer Michael Whitaker’s trotter is 9-for-14 in pari-mutuel races and has racked up another four wins at the County Fair meet. Sunday’s win, which was by 4 ½ lengths over DW’s Revenge, was his 18th career triumph.
Driver David Ingraham, who is competing at Shenandoah Downs for the first time, had two wins — with Tyler, Marna and Karen Shehan’s Major Megan and Tyler Shehan’s Cantab Speed — from ten drives over the weekend. The 61-year-old reinsman enters Saturday action with 52,999 career starts in the sulky and should be poised to record number 53,000 that afternoon.
Heather Vitale will be on site Saturday to produce a series of facebook live feeds including coverage of Ingraham’s milestone start.
The spring season’s two biggest races are on the horizon. The Mountain Racing Series takes place on Saturday April 22 and features a pair of $25,000 events — the Blue Ridge Open Pace and Alleghany Open Trot. Horsemen wishing to enter can call Racing Secretary Dee Lineweaver at 540-459-4807 for more information.
The 7-week Shenandoah Downs meet continues through May 14 with racing every Saturday and Sunday at 1 PM. The track’s high-definition video signal is available to wager via simulcast, and free Trackmaster programs for all race cards are available for download at shenandoahdowns.com.