Virginia Harness Racing Group Pushes for Longer Seasons For Sports Bettors at Shenandoah Downs

Virginia Harness Racing Group Pushes for Longer Seasons For Sports Bettors at Shenandoah Downs
By Keith Stein
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

Preparations are in full swing for the 2022 harness racing season at Shenandoah Downs in Woodstock, where Virginia sports bettors will have an additional three weeks to cheer on their favorite horse at the oval track. 

The eight-week season, which will run from Sept. 16 to Nov. 6, is three weeks longer than any of the prior meets.

Racing applications for the fall harness season are available at vhha.net and shenandoahdowns.com.

“All horsemen wishing to compete in the seventh annual pari-mutuel meet must fill out an application and return it to the Virginia Harness Horsemen’s Association by Aug. 8,” according to an article on the Virginia Horse Racing website.

No horses will be allowed on the grounds before Sept. 14; however a four-day Shenandoah County Fair meet will precede the pari-mutuel session. Racing will take place Aug. 31, Sept. 1, 2 & 3 at noon. The 2022 fair meet will be the 105th edition.

After the county fair, racing will take place Fridays at 3 p.m. and Saturdays at 1 p.m. through Oct. 15 then switch to a Saturday/Sunday schedule at 1 p.m. for the final three weeks.

The 25th running of the Virginia Breeder’s Championships will be a highlight at the meet, which will take place on closing day Nov. 6. 

A total of eight divisional championships will be contested, each with an $80,000-plus purse. Elimination races for 3-year-olds are the weekend of Oct. 22 (pacers) and 23 (trotters) while freshman elimination races are Oct. 29 (pacers) and 30 (trotters).

The commonwealth offers online sports betting, but no real money online casinos at this point.

Track Upgrades

In May, Shenandoah Downs announced some barn area upgrades that involved leveling out terrain that has always affected a large section of the backstretch. The project also included improved drainage, new lighting and new fencing. 

The improvements, expected to be completed in time for the fall season, will give horses and horsemen a safer environment while stabling in Woodstock.

Other events at the track include a commemorative long sleeve T-shirt giveaway on Sept. 17, 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.

Parking and admission are free to the fall races and the action is family friendly.

Longer Race Season Proposed for 2023

Virginia will push its harness racing season even further next year, as the state continues to showcase a healthy gambling appetite. 

For May, the state’s 14 sports wagering operators realized $27.52 million in adjusted gross revenue — a 32.6% hike from the $20.76 million in April. 

Virginia sportsbook promo codes are available via the top online operators.

In 2023, the racing season at Woodstock will include a pair of seven-week meets — one in spring (March 31-May 13) and another in fall (Sept. 16-Oct. 29), pending approval.

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

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Contributors

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

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