Woodstock, VA — Harness racing will return to the Shenandoah County Fair for the 102nd consecutive year beginning Wednesday (Aug. 28) with stronger participation from horsemen, a major increase in purse monies and a new sense of enthusiasm.
The opener features eight races, all with $2,000 purses, beginning at Noon. The four-day Fair meet will continue with cards on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the same time.
Opening day’s program kicks off with a trio of races for 2-year-olds. Trotters take center stage in races one and two, and pacers in race three.
Roger Hammer’s Boyz Of Summer and Linda’s Will invade Woodstock with 20 starts between them, more than all other entrants in the first three combined. Betsy Brown will face Hammer in the first two with Kwitchyerbell Yakin and Meme And Me, respectively, both of whom will be making their first lifetime start. Trainer Shannon Trader has a pair as well with Toms All In and Racin Rudy. Brown and Hammer will pilot their own horses and Scott Woogen will drive Trader’s.
The fifth race offers the deepest field of the afternoon and has attracted six for a non-winners of $5,000 pace. Half the field — Blow Back, Powerful Madison and Southwind Glider — has lifetime earnings of between $97,000-$110,000. Two others — D’Dream and Uncle Ike — recorded winning miles of 1:56 and 1:56.2 last year.
The final three races are all divisions of the Rocking Rose Pace which features respective fields of six, four and four competitors. Hammer has a trio entered while David Swaney and Ron Lineweaver each have a pair.
In order to jump start the Fair’s racing program, the Virginia Harness Horse Association is taking a more active role and is supplying purse monies for the meet beginning this year.
“There is a substantial increase in purse dollars compared to past years,” said Debbie Warnick, VHHA Executive Director. “This is the last fair with any kind of racing in Virginia so we want to keep the program alive and really make an effort to promote it more. We want the rich tradition to continue in Woodstock.
“The VHHA Board wanted more participation from horsemen, so we eliminated double heats and increased purses. We’re pleased with the early results and hope fans enjoy the racing product the next four days.”
Races are held at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds in Woodstock, located off I-81 at Exit 283 halfway between Winchester and Harrisonburg. Once the Fair meet is complete, the annual Shenandoah Downs five week pari-mutuel meet will be held from Sept. 13-Oct. 13 with racing every Friday at 3:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. Details are at shenandoahdowns.com.