2022 Race Meet Report
The following report was presented at the VRC meeting on December 14, 2022
On November 6th, Shenandoah Downs wrapped up the 2022 harness racing meet. With 16 race days spread over 8 weeks, this was the longest meet held at Shenandoah. With the exception of one weekend that was a near washout from a passing hurricane, fall weather in the Shenandoah Valley was very favorable again with sunny skies and mild temperatures. This enabled us to have a total of 216 races featuring 322 different horses. 80 different trainers traveled from 17 states and Canada including California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and of course, Virginia. A total of 52 different drivers also competed. All of these races were raced with no equine issues or accidents occurring which is always a great thing.
We distributed over $2 million in purse monies, including a record $739,000 that was given out on our closing day, when the 25th Virginia Breeders Championships took place. We also established two signature races, the Blue Ridge Pace and the Alleghany Trot, named for the two mountain ranges that surround Shenandoah Downs. Each of these races featured a $25,000 purse. We plan to continue these signature races on an annual basis, increasing the purses when possible.
This was the first year that we were able to video stream our signal to the 4 major Advance Deposit Wagering companies, TVG, Xpressbet, Twinspires and NYRA Bets. This led to expanded interest in Shenandoah Downs racing from fans that were able to see and bet our racing for the first time. An average daily on track handle of $12,853 and an average daily ADW handle of $16,618 combined for a total track handle of $412,600.
The VHHA once again sponsored four separate Own a Horse for a Day promotions that gave 32 different fans a chance to own a horse on a specific afternoon. The popular promotion gave fans a chance to meet their horse, driver and trainer in the paddock area and take pictures with them. Each of the 32 also got to keep the purse money their horse earned in their race. One of last year's winners formed a relationship with the trainer of his horse in this promotion and began working as a groom traveling to the tracks in Maryland. He has now purchased a few horses of his own that competed at Shenandoah this fall.
One major change to the backstretch was the new $300,000 pad site. This provided a safer and more pleasant barn area to house most of the temporary horse stalls and tents. In past years, this area was an undulating grass area that didn't drain if there was rain, making a sloppy, muddy mess. This investment was greatly appreciated by the horsemen.
I am also happy to report that in 2022 we launched a Virginia Sired Stakes program. This program will feature racing for two and three years olds sired by stallions standing in Virginia. In 2022 we had 13 stallions stand in Virginia. 10 of these stallions moved from other states to be part of our program. For 2023, we have 16 stallions that have registered to stand in Virginia. The interest in this program has been so great, that we have had to turn away stallions as there are limited farms that can stand them.
With the addition of a second 14 day race meet in the spring of 2023, harness racing in Virginia is continuing to grow. We look forward to this growth continuing in the future.