(WOODSTOCK, VA — 5/17/2023) — Shenandoah Downs reached the halfway point of its 2023 pari-mutuel harness racing schedule on Mothers Day Sunday when a 7-week, 14-day spring season came to an end. The second half of its slate will resume September 16 and continue thru October 29 with a Saturday/Sunday race schedule at 1 PM. A 4-day Shenandoah County Fair meet will also be held from August 30-September 2.
Noteworthy spring performances were authored by several horses including Stephen Farrell’s Rocksapatriot who triggered a meet best 1:52 4/5 in the Blue Ridge Open Pace April 22. Cole Olsen’s Volley Ball Beach crossed in 1:53 1/5 April 16 and Debbie Warnick’s Hulou completed a 1:53 2/5 effort April 9. The track record time of 1:52 1/5 was set by John’s Dream in 2016.
Set The Pace Racing’s Alilthundadownunda hit the wire first in three of the four Open Handicap Pacing events for trainer Nick Roland, and all finishing times were between 1:55 1/5 and 1:55 4/5. His only blemish was a second in the Blue Ridge Open showcase.
Former “Horse of the Meet” Vulcan Hanover continued his winning ways, often in convincing fashion. The 6-year-old Donato Hanover gelding trotter put a five-race win streak together, all against Open Handicap company including a 1:55 4/5 lifetime best April 16. Owned by Shantae Gant and trained by Michael Whitaker, Vulcan is 13-for-19 at Shenandoah over the past three seasons. Even in defeat, he was runner-up three times and third once.
A total of $1,331,618 in combined purse and bonus monies were distributed over the meet. In all, 168 wagering races were contested along with six qualifiers.
Six different races featured a purse of $25,000. Two were part of the track’s Mountain Racing Series — the Blue Ridge Open Pace & Allegheny Open Trot — and the other four were for Virginia-Certified horses that had successfully completed a six-month residency in the Commonwealth before they turned two years of age.
Seventy-eight different trainers competed, representing 320 different horses. Fourteen stables were based on the grounds while the balance shipped in on weekends. Trainers came from fourteen various states and Canada with the most coming from Pennsylvania (19), Maryland (12), Delaware (10) and Virginia (9).
Top conditioner for the second straight meet was Stacey McLenaghan whose 14 wins was five more than Brian Tomlinson and Scott Warnick who had nine each. Nick Roland, Jennifer Sansone and Michael Whitaker tied for third with eight apiece. McLenaghan also led in purse earnings with $98,002.
For trainers with a minimum of 14 starts, Wayne Long had a robust .523 UTRS while Betsy Brown followed with a .492. Wayne’s son, Wyatt, earned his first win as a trainer ever on May 13 when his maiden pacer Imnotforeveryone came from behind to edge Shady’s Finale at the wire. Wyatt piloted the 4-year-old racing Hill mare which he also owns.
Forty different drivers competed at the meet and Todd Warren stood atop the leader standings after the last day with 22 wins and the second highest purse earning total with $119,734. Shenandoah mainstay Billy Carter was next with 19 wins and his purse total of $128,897 topped all others. Archie Buford and Fern Paquet Jr. — who had won three straight titles — tied for third with 12 wins each. Twenty-eight different reinsmen reached the winners circle during the meet.
Also of note, driver David Ingraham made career start number 53,000 in Woodstock April 15 aboard Arthur Lisi’s Rocky Bomber and during the final weekend, Tyler Shehan scored career driving win number 997 aboard Green Valley Training’s Uncle Coz.
The racing scene at Shenandoah continues to grow at a rapid pace. From 2016 – 2021, a 5-week fall meet was held with just on track wagering available. Last year, the season increased by three weeks and simulcasting was made available to four Advance Deposit Wagering partners. This spring, a high definition simulcast signal was streamed to both online and brick & mortar outlets and as a result, average total handle nearly tripled to $75,874 per program. Racing will be held a total of 14 weeks in Woodstock this year.
Over the summer months, a racetrack surface enhancement project is scheduled and will be completed in time for the County Fair and fall meets. Racing applications for the fall meet will be available online beginning July 1. For more information, horsemen can e-mail email@example.com.