Woodstock, Va., will be a hotspot for sports betting in Virginia and horse lovers this month as Shenandoah Downs kicks off its seventh season of pari-mutuel harness racing on Friday.
The track, located at Shenandoah County Fairgrounds, will host an eight-week “Harness The Mountain Magic” campaign — its longest ever — through Nov. 6. Previous horse meets at Shenandoah Downs from 2016-21 were five weeks in length.
The season’s first five weeks will feature racing every Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. During the final three weeks — beginning Oct. 22 — the schedule will shift to a Saturday and Sunday format with racing at 1 p.m.
Shenandoah Downs 2022 Race Schedule
Pacers and trotters of both sexes, 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds, will compete in eight divisional championships, each worth a minimum $80,000 purse.
Elimination races for 3-year-olds are the weekend of Oct. 22 (pacers) and Oct. 23 (trotters) while freshman elimination races are Oct. 29 (pacers) and Oct. 30 (trotters).
The meet's highlight is the 25th running of the $640,000 Virginia Breeder’s Championships, which will close out the season on Nov. 6.
The first 600 fans at the track on Sept. 17 will receive a free commemorative long sleeve T-shirt. When recipients wear their shirt on return visits throughout the meet, they will be entitled to exclusive “T-Shirt Club” offers that include free programs, a free hot dog, and two mystery betting voucher promos.
Other events at the track include a “Purple Power” cancer awareness event Oct. 15, the annual Wiener Dog Derby on Oct. 23, and the arrival of Santa Claus on closing weekend.
Of course, wagering is a part of horse racing’s appeal – check out the best Virginia sportsbook promos throughout the year at BetVirginia.com.
Own a Horse for a Day
Once again, the Virginia Harness Horse Association will sponsor the popular “Own a Horse for a Day” promotion on four occasions this fall, including opening weekend.
A total of 32 fans — eight each time the promotion is conducted — will receive the unique chance to “own” a horse in a $5,250 race. Winners will visit their respective horse in the paddock and collect the amount of purse money their horse earns in the race. One lucky “owner” during each of the four promotions will walk away with $2,625, which is 50% of the purse.
Four winners will be drawn from Friday’s opening day crowd and another four will be selected at random on Saturday.
Virginia Horse Track Improvements
In May, Shenandoah Downs announced improvements, including some barn area upgrades; the facility leveled out terrain that has always affected a large section of the backstretch. The project also included improved drainage, new lights and new fencing.
The improvements will give horses and horsemen a safer environment while stabling in Woodstock.
Wagering is available on every race at electronic betting terminals or by window clerks at the track.
Longer Race Season Proposed for 2023
Event organizers will push Virginia harness racing season even further next year, as the state continues to showcase a healthy appetite for gambling.
Last year there was a Shenandoah Downs track record $1.5 million in purse money distributed during a five-week season.
In 2023, the racing season at Woodstock will include two seven-week meets — one in spring (March 31-May 13) and another in fall (Sept. 16-Oct. 29), pending approval.
The track is at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds in Woodstock, halfway between Winchester and Harrisonburg, off Interstate 81 at Exit 283. Parking and admission are free.