Shenandoah Downs completed its sixth annual pari-mutuel meet in Woodstock, Virginia, with record purse distribution over 127 races during the 10-day season.
A total of $1,526,557 in overall purse monies were doled out over the five-week campaign that ended on Oct. 16 for Virginia gamblers.
The biggest days were Oct. 1 and 2. Between combined stake and overnight purse totals, $398,300 and $451,837 (a single day record) were distributed, respectively. Before the season, the half-mile track announced that prize money was raised 50% over 2020 levels.
Shenandoah kept a busy track in 2021. A total of 18 races each were run on Sept. 25 and Oct. 2, and a 15-race program was held on Oct. 9.
The 2022 Shenandoah Downs season is expected to increase in length, from five weeks to as many as eight. The track plans to release details in the coming weeks.
Shenandoah Downs is at Shenandoah County Fairgrounds, halfway between Harrisonburg and Winchester. Horses from Virginia, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware race at the track.
Virginia horse racing fans were able to return to the track this year after a 2020 season that was run without fans in attendance or wagering due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Parking and admission to all the racing action is free.
Virginia sports betting began in January. It was included in the state’s gambling expansion that will also add casinos.
There was a three-way tie for top trainer honors. Michael Whitaker, Stacey McLenghan and Marna Shehan all finished with 10 wins. Gerry Longo and John Wagner were next with nine each, followed by Brandy Wine with seven. Wagner led all trainers in purse money earned with $352,817 while Shehan was second with $158,095.
Horse of the meet honors went to Shantae Gant’s Vulcan Hanover, who was 5-for-5 during the season. The fastest pacing mile of the meet belonged to Danilo Premovic’s Shane Adam, who scored a 1:53 1/5 winning effort on Sept. 18. The track record is 1:52 1/5, run by John’s Dream in 2016.
Fern Paquet Jr. successfully defended his 2020 championship, reaching the winner’s circle 18 times. Billy Carter finished second with 17 wins followed by Corey Braden with 16, Tyler Shehan with 14 and John MacDonald with 12. Shehan finished with the most purse earnings, $174,394, followed by Paquet Jr. with $173,705.
Virginia 2021 Season Nears End
Some 50 miles east of Woodstock, and one week after season closed at Shenandoah, the 84th International Gold Cup Races galloped across Great Meadow fields on Oct. 23. Eight steeplechase events, $305,000 in purse monies on the line, and a COVID-reduced crowd of 4,000 people lined the rails to watch and bet on the event. One last event remains.
Virginia’s fall steeplechase season wraps up Nov. 6 with the Montpelier Hunt Races in Orange.