Shenandoah Downs, one of the first horse tracks in the eastern United States to be built for night racing, opened in Charles Town in 1959 in competition with the older Charles Town Race Track. In 1957, Shenandoah’s owners had bought land north of Charles Town Race Track and applied for a permit for night harness racing. The corporation then asked to have the permit extended to include night thoroughbred racing. Turned down by the West Virginia Racing Commission, the owners of the new track took the case to the West Virginia Supreme Court and won, putting Shenandoah Downs in competition with Charles Town Race Track.
The two Jefferson County tracks competed for about two decades. Shenandoah Downs had the advantage of night racing, and led Charles Town in annual revenues. When the Charles Town Race Track installed lighting in 1965, the number of racing days at the two tracks became more equal, and the Charles Town track gradually gained the upper hand. In 1972, the Shenandoah Corporation, which then owned Shenandoah Downs, also bought the Charles Town Race Track. In 1976, Shenandoah Downs was closed.
The Kenton Corporation bought both tracks in 1978 and briefly reopened Shenandoah Downs. The track permanently closed later that year and became a training track.
Last Revised on October 29, 2010