Even a 50-length lead does not ensure a win in timber racing.
At the 10th annual running of the Plumsted Farm Races, Sun. April 18 in London Grove, Pa, Quaremba, owned by Donald Cochran and trained by Paddy Neilson, was blowing away his competitors in the Marshall W. Jenney & Richard I G Jones Memorial Cup Heavyweight Race. There were just two other horses in the field, No Cares (owned and ridden by Conrad Somers) and Move Up Stable's Delarun, a late switch from the Novice Race.
Quaremba easily outdistanced the other horses, and had a huge lead of about 50 lengths coming into the last fence of the three-mile timber course. Just after the announcer declared that there was just one more fence to go for Quaremba to win the race, the veteran timber horse refused the final jump, sending jockey Jake Chalfin on alone to the opposite side. There was almost time to remount with the aid of the fence as a mounting block, but Delarun had not given up and cleared the last fence before Quaremba could be put to it again.
Even with the refusal and fall, Quaremba managed a second place finish that also earned enough points to win the heavyweight championship for the Delaware Valley Point to Point Association's three race spring series.
At the awards ceremony that concluded the day, Cochran announced that after eight years as a timber horse, this had been Quaremba's last race. "This is the third time he's refused a fence. He did it at Cheshire Point to Point. We just decided he's trying to tell us something," Cochran said. "He'll be a full time fox hunter."
In addition to winning the Heavyweight Race with Delarun, Somers was the "Done Sleeping" Open Race winner and series open award winner on J. Alfred Prufrock.
Somers hung back for most of the open race letting Chip Miller on Who's a Conniver set the pace. When the third to last fence came up, Somers made his move, closing what at one point was nearly a twenty-length disadvantage to gain ground with each fence and barrel to the finish line in front.
The final race of the afternoon was also a small one, with just three horses entered for "The Sacandaga" Foxhunters Race. Thermostat, owned by Morningstar Farm and ridden by Ivan Dowling won the race and the series title with plenty of speed to spare. At only one point in the race was Thermostat ever passed for the lead and that quickly changed when Dowling allowed his horse to run back to the top.
"I knew I had a lot of horse all the way around," Dowling said. "He's more comfortable the faster he's going." This was only the second time over timber for Thermostat, who still had enough speed to widen his winning margin in the stretch run.
In "The Plumsted" Novice Race, it was Hold Your Fire, owned by The Fields Stable and ridden by William Santoro, that managed an exciting win over Mark Beecher on Rosbrian Farm's Services Rendered.
The Ida Kerr Lofting Memorial Flat Race, with the largest field of the day at 15 entries was also won by Santoro, this time on Always First, owned by Merriefield Farm.
The Plumsted Farm Races also support junior riders, hosting fieldmasters races for horses and ponies, as well as pony races and a lead line trot race. In the Field Masters Chase, the pony winner was Ali Corkran on Snickers, who followed behind Lydia Fisher and Ledger all the way over the two-mile course until they were released to run for the finish line. At that point, Snickers flew to the lead in the stretch for a win.
First to the finish of the horse section of the race was Thoroughbred trophy winner Erin Nolan, riding The Knife Speaks for Liza Henriks, followed by the non-thoroughbred winner, Work to Ride entry Jeannie, ridden by Shariah Harris. Work to Ride also had the series champion pony racer Teeny Jeannie.
The Red Raven Pony Races were dominated by the Hindt family, with Katie Hindt on Cinnamon Twist winning the small section and the Hindt's Bold Initiative winning against the larger ponies for rider Lindsey Capps.
Proceeds from the event go to the Chatham Acres Nursing Home, Resident's Activities Fund. In the first nine years of the event nearly $115,000 was given to the nearby nursing home to help cover resident needs that would not otherwise be in their budget.