Caviart Gwen, K J Alexander and Miraclepowerfull all look to defend their 2022 Virginia Breeder’s Championship titles Sunday, October 29 at Shenandoah Downs when they compete as 3-year-olds in their respective 2023 divisional clashes. In all, $802,200 in purse money will be on the line in Sunday’s 14-race card and the trio of 2-year-old champs noted will battle for respective purses of $84,000, $85,600 and 89,800 in the filly trot, colt/gelding trot & colt/gelding pace.
Caviart Farms’ Caviart Gwen competed in her lone 3-year-old Virginia prep September 30 and wired the field by ten lengths in 2:00 2/5. Reinsman Philip Scott Sonsteby won his first race ever in the U.S. in piloting the Father Patrick filly. In last year’s freshmen finale, Caviart Gwen wired the field in 2:01.0. She will depart from post six Sunday as even money early pick with Sonsteby aboard against five other sophomore filly trotters.
Pam Wagner and Scott Woogen’s K J Alexander enters the 3-year-old colt/gelding trot as high money earner in the field with $110,900 and leaves from the rail in Sunday’s 14th race. The What The Hill gelding took his September 30 prep in wire-to-wire fashion winning by 2¾ lengths in 1:59 3/5. Austin Hanners will be in the sulky for trainer Alicia Hanners as the 4-5 early favorite. Four finalists in the field have won conditioned races at Shenandoah since the initial prep — Terry’s Watching (1:58 3/5), K J Todd (2:00 1/5), Cantab Speed (2:01 3/5) and KJ Devil (2:01 2/5).
Jimmy Viars’ Miraclepowerfull finished second and third in his Breeder’s eliminations then followed with a second and third in conditioned events after. The Bullville gelding will leave from post two with Corey Braden in the bike against seven other colt/gelding pacers in search of his first 2023 victory. Early favorite is Mark Wright’s Base Stealer whose 1:56 3/5 winning elimination score was authored by Fern Paquet, Jr. who returns to drive from post four.
The only sophomore division where the 2022 champ won’t defend its title is in the $87,400 Filly Pace. Pam Wagner’s Lloyd’s Loves, who won last year but was disqualified, is early 9-5 choice Sunday. The Rusty’s All In filly has won five of her last seven including a three length score in her second prep in 1:59 1/5. The John Wagner trainee brings a bankroll of $95,661 into the final. Second early pick is Hickory View Farm’s Caviart Leeloo who will be driven by David Ward from post five.
Robert White’s Chinco Mayo and Pam Wagner’s Petes For Real are the only two freshman participants to have won both their early races. The former overcame a break last start at the third fraction to beat Jane Dunavant’s Rip Away by a nose. White, who trains and drives his El Platinum filly, will leave as the 8-5 early favorite from post four in the $92,400 2-year-old filly trot. Rip Away will depart from the rail with Cody Poliseno aboard.
Petes For Real came from behind in the stretch to win both his colt/gelding preps. The Rusty’s For Real pacer crossed in 1:59 1/5 and 1:59 4/5 and will leave as even money early choice from post six in Sunday’s $85,025 final with Fern Paquet Jr. aboard.
Pam Wagner and Scott Woogen’s K J Dash is favored in the $87,875 2-year-old colt & gelding trot despite going off stride in both his preps and recording a second and third place finish. The Lockkeeper gelding has bankrolled $113,872 in his freshman campaign which includes six wins from nine starts. Jane Dunavant’s Pretty two triggered an 80-1 upset win last week and is 7-2 on Sunday.
Pam Wagner’s Covid For Real is favored in the $90,100 2-year-old filly pace based off her 2:00 4/5 triumph last week. Corey Braden will pilot from post four in the seven-horse field. Anne McDonald’s Sweet Pirategirl is next early choice at 9-5 with trainer Mark Gray in the sulky. The Sweet Lou filly was second in the initial prep but did not compete in the second leg.
Rounding out the card — which is the richest Breeder’s program in Virginia harness racing history — are four $20,000 aged Breeder’s races and the traditional Sunday Open Handicaps for both gaits which carry a $10,000 purse each. Post time is 1 PM. Free Trackmaster programs and Derby Bill’s Tip Sheet are available at shenandoahdowns.com.
(Photos by Quenton Egan)