Virginia Harness Racing Begins Fall Slate At Shenandoah Downs

Virginia Harness Racing Begins Fall Slate At Shenandoah Downs
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

Virginia’s Colonial Downs is wrapping up its 2023 season of thoroughbred racing in New Kent. But harness racing is just getting started at Shenandoah Downs for the track’s fall meet, providing more pari-mutuel Virginia sports betting opportunities.

This will be Shenandoah Downs’ second meet this year. The track held its first-ever spring racing from April 1 until May 14. The fall meet begins Sept. 16 and runs until Oct. 29.

Located in Woodstock, Shenandoah Downs is Virginia’s only harness racing track. Fall races will run for seven weeks on Saturdays and Sundays starting at 1 p.m. on both days. Races generally run until 4:30 p.m. and a race goes off every 20 minutes. Wagering is available on all races via a retail teller or a self-betting terminal.

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More About Shenandoah Downs

The harness racing schedule is part of a gaming scene that includes sports betting operators offering real money VA sportsbook promo codes. Shenandoah racing features some of the top horses and drivers in the region and offers a thrilling experience for both seasoned horse racing fans and newcomers to the sport.

Chuck Perry’s John’s Dream — the Shenandoah Downs track record holder — appeared in August at this year’s four-day Shenandoah County Fair. Races at the county fair are non-wagering events.

During the fall meet, fans can enjoy a full day of horse racing, betting, socializing, music, and enjoy food and drinks available from vendors.

Check out the season's richest race day on Oct. 29 when over $650,000 in purse monies will be up for grabs in the Virginia Breeder's Championships. The Shenandoah Downs spring meet was the first spring harness racing action in the commonwealth since 1998.

Of course, wagering is a part of horse racing’s appeal. Bettors can wager at the track or through one of the following Off Track Betting locations:

  • Rosie's Gaming Emporiums in New Kent, Vinton, Richmond, Hampton, Dumfries, and Collinsville
  • Breakers Sports Grille in Henrico and Buckets Bar & Grill in Chesapeake
  • Online betting is available via Twinspires, TVG, Xpressbet, and NYRAbets
  • Horse wagering also is available through some Virginia Sports Betting Apps

The Future Of Virginia Horse Racing

In November 2022, the Virginia Horse Industry Strategic Planning Committee submitted a few recommendations to improve the future of Virginia’s horse racing industry.

One recommendation aimed at boosting wagering in Virginia is to expand pari-mutuel betting to be included on sports wagering platforms. Horse racing takes place during the day, whereas professional sports leagues are usually playing at night.

“The Virginia horse industry should collaborate and position itself to take full advantage of sports wagering opportunities,” the report said.

Sports wagering apps such as the FanDuel Virginia Sportsbook already provide betting on horse racing through their Racebook.

Shenandoah Downs is located at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds at Interstate 81, Exit 283 in Woodstock, halfway between Harrisonburg and Winchester.



Keith Stein is a Virginia-based writer for who covers sports betting and casinos.

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