Pamela Wagner and Scott Woogen’s K J Alexander and Caviart Farms’ Caviart Gwen — Virginia Breeder’s 2-year-old Colt/Gelding and Filly Trot champions — made bold statements Saturday at Shenandoah Downs as they began defense of their titles as sophomores.
K J Alexander wired the field in his $8,000 Breeder’s preliminary leg, the first of two scheduled before the $80,000 (est.) “Day of Champions” final on October 29. The What The Hill gelding led by two lengths through the half, saw his lead diminish slightly at the third fraction when James Brown’s Terry’s Watching got to within 1-3/4 lengths, then powered home to a 2-3/4 length score in 1:59 1/5. Corey Braden drove for trainer Alicia Hanners and helped push K J Alexander’s bankroll over the $108,000 mark. Terrys Watching was second and K J Todd finished third.
Caviart Gwen got away second, took the lead from Jane Dunavant and Thomas Davis’s Starlight Lounge just past the quarter then dominated against five other filly trotters the rest of the way in her first leg Breeder’s clash. The daughter of Father Patrick crossed ten lengths the best in 2:00 2/5. The winner was driven by Philip Scott Sonsteby who won his first race in the U.S. after competing in Sweden and Norway. Sonsteby trains the filly as well. Starlight Lounge was second and Quarantine Crisis was third.
Defending champs in the 2022 Breeder’s Filly and Colt/Gelding Pace categories both took third in their 3-year-old preliminary legs Sunday. Hickory View Farm’s Caviart Leeloo and Jimmy Viars’ Miraclepowerfull had respectable outings, but Charles Myers’ Hillbilyclassygirl and Mark Wright’s Base Stealer reached the winners circle in respective times of 1:55 1/5 and 1:56 3/5. 19-year-old Lucas Myers directed the former while Fern Paquet Jr. led the latter for trainer Renae Loney.
The male pace actually featured two divisions, the first of which finished a tick better than Base Stealer’s time. Lawrence and Derrick Cooper’s Caviart Stoney crossed in 1:56 2/5 with Billy Carter in the bike.
Second leg divisions will highlight action this coming weekend. Two-Year-Old preliminary battles will take place the following two weekends.
Driver Archie Buford, competing for the second straight year at Shenandoah, had five wins over the weekend including a driving triple on Saturday aboard Neverouttathefight, Rock’s Image and Divoc. The 36-year-old went over the $1 million mark in purse earnings with his big afternoon.
Reinsman Kevin Wallis, driving in Woodstock for the first time ever, had four over the weekend including a hat trick Sunday with Adele’s Big Party, Captain Malicious and A Major Omen. The latter crossed in 1:54 4/5, fastest mile of the meet. The 66-year-old Wallis has made 49,088 career starts and has racked up 10,587 victories.
Veronica Merton scored the first driving double of her career Saturday with wins aboard Shantae Gant’s Theorem in the Pink Power Ladies Driving Challenge and later with Michael Annunziata’s Betabcool N in a U.S. Harness Driver’s Club division.
The Shenandoah Downs fall season continues this Saturday and Sunday with cards at 1 PM. Wagering is available online via Twinspires, TVG, Xpressbet and NYRAbets, and at many OTBs and tracks around the country. Free Shenandoah Downs programs along with Derby Bill’s Tip Sheet and race replays are available at shenandoahdowns.com. The fall season continues through October 29.