$700,000 In VA Certified Residency Program Awards Distributed From 2023 Standardbred Races  

(WOODSTOCK, VA — 1/25/2024) —- The Virginia Harness Horse Association announced that $700,000 in Certified bonus monies for foals of 2020 and 2021 will be distributed from races held in 2023 — a total of $300,000 for the 2020 crop, from 33 individual awards, and $400,000 for the 2021 crop, from 51 individual awards. 

Among the 2020 crop, Graham Grace Stables’ Call Me Goo earned the biggest award — $27,982 — courtesy of a stellar campaign which saw the 3-year-old filly trotter win 12 of 16 races and bankroll $348,452. The daughter of Googoo Gaagaa won nine straight races between May 2 and August 25 including scores in the $85,000 Maryland Sire Stake finals at both Ocean Downs and Rosecroft. She also prevailed in the $115,000 Crossroads of America Stakes at Hoosier and the $141,000 Matron at Dover. The consistent trotter was bred by William Roberts and spent her Virginia residency at the Powhatan Plantation in King George. 

Hillbillypacinhill scored a $23,145 bonus in 2023 (Quenton Egan photo).

Charles Myers’ Hillbillypacinhilly’s bonus payment of $23,145 was second best. The Racing Hill gelding pacer earned $101,084 from 18 top-three finishes in 26 starts including a three-length victory in the Virginia Breeder’s $89,800 3-Year-Old Colt/Gelding Pace at Shenandoah Downs which followed runner-up finishes in both Breeder’s preps. Hillbilly Pacing Hill was bred by Sharon Dotson at her Hillbilly Haven Farm in Burkeville. Lucas Myers piloted the pacer in all 26 starts last year.

James Brown’s Terry’s Watching collected a $20,093 bonus from six wins and four second place finishes in 2023. Three of each came at the Woodstock oval and those points helped secure Brown the third highest award. The Charlie De Vie trotter was bred by Betsy Brown –- who drove Terry’s Watching in his final three wins of the campaign.

Jane Dunavant’s Starlight Lounge earned a $19,704 bonus while Pam Wagner and Scott Woogen’s KJ Alexander collected a $18,692 award. The former had only two wins in 19 starts but was solid otherwise with seven runner-up finishes and four thirds, amounting to $79,954 in purse earnings. The Dusty Winner filly trotter finished second in the $84,000 Virginia Breeder’s 3-Year-Old Filly Trot. The latter, a gelding trotter, accumulated $57,430 in purses. The son of What The Hill had a big score in a $25,000 Virginia-Certified race last May and a Virginia Breeder’s elimination race in October. KJ Alexander was bred by Scott Woogen. The duo spent their respective residencies at Charlie Dunavant’s Farm in Victoria and at Snow Hill Layne Farm in Troy.       

KJ Alexander was a top 5 bonus earner in 2023 (Quenton Egan photo).

Among the 2021 crop, Sarah Said — owned by Garry Martin, B Kleinberg Racing and Lee Unkefer — parlayed a five-race win streak at Ohio tracks last year into a $27,034 bonus. The 2-year-old Well Said filly pacer bankrolled $71,641 from 11 starts and recorded a 1:53 2/5 mark in the Buckeye Stallion Series at Scioto Downs August 15. Her six-month Virginia stay was at Hull Prarie Farm in Bealeton. 

The second highest bonus winner ($26,317) was Pam Wagner and Scott Woogen’s gelding trotter KJ Dash who finished the year with seven wins from ten starts and $157,809 in earnings. The freshman son of Lockkeeper captured a trio of high profile events in 2023 – the $87,875 Virginia Breeder’s 2-Year-Old Colt/Gelding Trot and $85,000 Maryland Sire Stake finals at both Roseroft and Ocean Downs. KJ Dash is a residency graduate of Snow Hill Layne Farm.

Rip Away, a Jane Dunavant homebred filly trotter, was best in the $92,400 Virginia Breeder’s divisional championship last year which helped trigger an overall $23,524 bonus payment. The daughter of Dusty Winner, who amassed $91,600 in winnings, bagged third and fourth place finishes in respective $110,000 Delaware State Bred Finals (DSBF) as well. 

Rip Away pictured in the Shenandoah Downs winners circle this past fall (Quenton Egan photo).

Rounding out the top five, Ken Weckstein & Gary Messenger’s Spectacular Plus earned a $22,695 reward while Nanticoke Racing and C. Delbert Cain’s Platinum Proposal accumulated $21,441 bonus. The former is a Huntsville gelding pacer who competed exclusively in New York and recorded four straight wins in the New York Sire Stake Excelsior Series. The latter is a trotting filly by E L Platinum who had a trio of wins and seconds and a pair of thirds with earnings of $116,300. Bred by Thomas Dodson, Platinum Proposal was a runner-up in her Virginia Breeder’s final but later in the year, prevailed in the DSBF final at Dover Downs.  Respective six-month stays in the Commonwealth were at Powhatan Plantation and Hull Prarie Farm.     

Turning to this year, the 2022 and 2021 foal crops will each compete for $400,000 in Certified bonus monies as two and three-year-olds respectively. Horsemen around the country with 2023 foals that wish to participate in the Certified Residency program will need to have them based at a registered Virginia farm by July 1. Certified farms are as far north as Berryville and as far south as Bristol.  Participating horses must complete a six-month residency before they turn two years of age. 

Tracy Bradshaw’s has Certified horses based at his picturesque farm in Bland, VA.

Foals that are part of this program earn points based on purses earned in races as both two and three-year-olds with a per race cap of 5,000 points — based on $5,000 in purse winnings. At the end of each calendar year, points are added up for all horses and a dollar figure is assigned to each point. Bonus monies are then awarded respectively to the owner of the horse at the time it raced. Horses are rewarded with double points from all overnight races held in Virginia. For more details, visit vhha.net or call Debbie Warnick at 443-463-0917.