(WOODSTOCK, VA — 10/30/2023) — Pam Wagner’s Petes For Real completed a sweep of his Virginia Breeder’s divisional championship series with a big win in Sunday’s $85,025 2-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace, one of eight title races for freshman and sophomore pacers and trotters of both sexes that were on the card. Those eight carried total purse money of $702,000 and combined with a four pack of $20,000 Aged Breeder’s races and a pair of $10,000 Opens, a total of $802,200 was distributed Sunday making it the richest card in Virginia harness racing history.
The 2-year-old Rusty’s For Real colt won both his $8,000 preps on back-to-back weeks in 1:59 1/5 and 1:59 4/5, then powered home to a 1:56 4/5 finishing time in the finale. Driver Fern Paquet Jr. was in the sulky in all three legs for trainer John Wagner, who had three wins total on Championship Day. Petes For Real sat second in the final behind Tracy Bradshaw’s Bgoing Away until mid-stretch then surged past late to win by a comfortable 2-3/4 length cushion. Bgoing Away finished second while Pam Wagner & Scott Woogen’s K J Real Deal was third.
Anne McDonald’s Sweet Pirategirl captured the $90,100 freshman female counterpart going wire-to-wire with trainer Mark Gray aboard in 1:59/1. The Sweet Lou filly, who finished second in her lone prep, crossed two lengths better than Pam Wagner’s Covid For Real in gaining her first lifetime win. Caviart Farms’ Caviart Sanibel was third.
Jane Dunavant’s Rip Away kicked off the afternoon festivities by connecting in the $92,400 2-Year-Old Filly Trot with her Dusty Winner homebred filly. The Carlo Poliseno trainee broke at the start of her second prep a week ago and came up a nose shy at the wire but that wasn’t the case Sunday. After breaking before the quarter pole in the final, she rebounded quickly and regained the lead after previous leader Divoc broke stride near the half. Rip Away went on to win by three lengths in 2:02 3/5 with Cody Poliseno in the bike. Nanticoke Racing Inc. and Delbert Cain’s Platinum Proposal finished second and Arthur Hauser’s Ida Muscles was third.
Pam Wagner and Scott Woogen’s K J Dash continued a stellar young racing career with a close win over Debbie Warnick’s Royal Beep Beep in the $87,875 2-Year-Old Colt/Gelding Trot. Interestingly, the Lockkeeper gelding did not win either of his prep races after breaking stride in both. On Sunday with Corey Braden in the sulky, K J Dash stayed flat throughout but trotted sixth at the half — nearly ten lengths behind Royal Beep Beep — then came outside to begin making up distance but was still fourth at the third marker trailing by 5-3/4 lengths. In the final straightaway, Braden had his trotter positioned second and he pushed forward to nip Royal Beep Beep by less than a length in 1:59 4/5. Pam Wagner’s Gerald A Keeper took third. The winner’s bankroll now stands at $157,809 from seven wins in ten career starts.
Driver Victor Kirby Collects Career Victory Number 5,000 in Final Breeder’s Race
In three-year-old finals action, driver Victor Kirby collected career win number 5,000 when he piloted Pam Wagner’s K J Todd to victory in the $85,600 Colt/Gelding Trot. Sent off at 10-1, the Trixton gelding had to make up a deficit of 18-1/2 lengths in the second half of the race but after passing Tyler Shehan’s Cantab Speed and Scott Woogen’s KJ Devil in deep stretch, prevailed by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:59 3/5. The other pair finished second and third respectively. The win was trainer John Wagner’s third in Breeder’s action for the afternoon. Kirby initially came to Woodstock Sunday with plans to make one drive — in the second race aboard his trainee Ronnie Ridge. He ended up taking over five of John Wagner’s drives as well including the finale’s board K J Todd. Wagner was involved in a spill the day prior and even though he was at the track Sunday, was unable to drive.
In the $84,000 filly counterpart, Caviart Gwen took over the lead from Graham Grace Stables’ Quarantine Crisis at the quarter and never looked back, winning by 5-1/2 lengths in 1:59 2/5. Trainer Philip Scott Sonsteby earned his first win in the U.S. with Caviart Gwen in her September 30 prep where she dominated by ten lengths. Sent off again Sunday at odds of 1-9, she did not disappoint in boosting her impressive lifetime bankroll to $258,497. Jane Dunavant and Thomas Davis’s Starlight Lounge was second and Quarantine Crisis finished third.
Charles Myers’ Hillbillypacinhill saved the best of his three Woodstock appearances for last by outdueling an eight horse field of 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers in the $89,800 divisional final. The Racing Hill gelding went coast-to-coast in 1:53 3/5, just two-fifths of a second off his lifetime best. Reinsman Lucas Myers authored quarter fractions of :27.0, :56 3/5 and 1:24 4/5 before sailing across the wire three lengths ahead of Jimmy Viars’s Miraclepowerfull — last year’s 2-year-old champ in this division. Myers’ consistent pacer has finished first, second or third in 11 straight races and in 16 of his last 17. Lawrence & Derrick Cooper’s Caviart Stoney finished third.
Hickory View Farm’s Caviart Leeloo led initially in the $87,400 3-Year-Old Filly Pace, surrendered the top spot to Pam Wagner’s Lloyd’s Loves in the second turn and didn’t regain the lead until just before the finish. The Downbytheseaside filly caught Lloyd’s Loves just in time and ended up three-quarters of a length the best in a lifetime mark of 1:55 2/5. David Ward drove for trainer Tom Blankenship. Pam Wagner’s Morgans All In finished third.
Champions Day marked the end of Shenandoah Downs’ fall season. Combined with its first ever spring meet earlier this year, the Woodstock oval offered 28 pari-mutuel race dates over a 14-week period evenly split between spring and fall. A 7-week spring campaign is planned for 2024 pending Virginia Racing Commission approval. The meet would run from April 6 – May 19 with racing every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Racing applications will be available at shenandoahdowns.com beginning February 1.