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Shenandoah Downs Welcomes Back Fans

Published: September 10, 2021 1:38 pm ET

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Shenandoah Downs will open its sixth season of pari-mutuel harness racing Friday, Sept. 17 and continue its five-week "Harness The Mountain Magic" meet in Woodstock, Va. through October 16.

After a 2020 season that was contested without fans in attendance or wagering due to the COVID pandemic, both fans and wagering will return to the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds as will a healthy purse increase that awaits participating horsemen.

Friday "Happy Hour" cards will begin at 3:30 PM, and fans can enjoy two-dollar draft beers and one-dollar hot dogs. Saturday programs will commence at 1:00 p.m. and feature a different promotion each week. On opening Saturday, Sept. 18, the first 600 fans will receive a free commemorative t-shirt, a tradition fans have come to expect.

The Virginia Harness Horse Association (VHHA) will offer up its popular "Own a Horse for a Day" promotion that afternoon as well. Eight fans that were selected during the recent Shenandoah County Fair meet will each "own" a horse in a $5,250 race. They will spend time with their respective horse, driver and trainer in the paddock before the race and best of all, win the amount of purse money their horse earns in the race. One lucky "owner" will walk away with $2,625. Another round of "owners" will be drawn at random that Saturday after the seventh race. That new group will return the following weekend for their promotional fulfillment.

A pair of harness enthusiast VIP dream packages will also be awarded to two lucky fans that same day. They will each return to the races on Friday September 24 and get dinner, a $20 betting voucher, a ride in the starter's car, a race named in their honor complete with a winner's circle presentation and souvenir picture, plus they will each announce a harness race that day and compete in a double seater sulky race.

To top it off, Woodstock resident and long-time harness trainer/driver/owner Betsy Brown will be recognized for her career accomplishments in a winner's circle presentation that same day. She will receive a proclamation from the Virginia House of Delegates after the second race. Last fall in Woodstock, Brown, a fan favorite, recorded her 500th driving win — in front of an empty grandstand. A hometown crowd on September 18 will get to show their appreciation in person.

Parking and admission to races at Shenandoah Downs are free and family friendly. Wagering is available on every race.

On the track, horsemen will enjoy purse and bonus benefits courtesy of the new Historical Horse Racing (HHR) revenue stream. Overnight purses have been raised 50 percent over 2020 levels. Purses for Breeder's Fund races, scheduled over the first three weekends, have doubled from last year. Finals for two and three-year-old horses will be run for $80,000, aged events for $20,000 and eliminations for $8,000. In addition, horses that are 100 percent owned by a Virginia resident will get a 50 percent bonus bonus on overnight races, and drivers/trainers that are Virginia residents will get a 50 percent bonus on overnights. Condition sheets that reflect the updated purse levels are available on the Shenandoah Downs website.

(Shenandoah Downs)

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