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Jones, Sarbak Win Goshen Scholarship Races

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Published: June 6, 2011 4:30 pm ET

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Nearly 1,000 cheering fans were on hand Sunday, June 5 to watch matinee racing and two divisions of the annual Goshen Historic Track High School Scholarship Races. When the dust settled, Tyler Jones of Valley Central and Marissa Sarbak of Warwick Valley won their respective elimination races.

Twelve high school seniors from area school districts participated in the race, each of which will receive an individual $1,000 scholarship grant for their upcoming college careers. The fledgling drivers also earned an additional $1,000 each for the school district they represented while participating in the exciting harness horse races.

Each student had the benefit of a professional driver beside them in the two-seated jog cart. Nonetheless, it was the student who handled the driving lines, along with the pressure to compete with their fellow students. As luck would have it, leading driver George Brennan was the co-pilot in the bike for both winners. The first three finishers in each race return for the final on June 19.

The first division saw Tyler Jones of Montgomery winning the six-horse race by three and a quarter lengths, following a big move to pass horses going down the backstretch past the three-quarter pole. The troika completed the mile in a swift 2:03 with a jog cart.

The other two finalists were Gregory Hart (Tuxedo) and Larry Stalbaum finishing second, and Jess Velez (Florida) and Ray Schnittker finishing third. In the winner’s circle, as proud family members joined in the celebration, Tyler stated that, “I just hope that I can do it again in the final race two weeks from now!” Tyler Jones, who also plays varsity basketball and baseball, plans on attending the University of Vermont.

The second division was a gate-to-wire rally for Marissa Sarbak of Warwick. Marissa, an avid competitive dressage rider, seemed equally at home in the sulky as she steered her steed into the first turn and never looked back. On hand to make the trophy presentation was 2010 defending champion Grace Caskey, also of Warwick. As she received the award Miss Sarbak beamed with joy and said that, “I love this. I want to continue driving horses every day!”

Rounding out the field for the final is Kate Woodward (Middletown) who finished second with Larry Stalbaum also in the sulky. Josh Shih of Goshen finished third with Ray Schnittker, who organized and single-handedly raised over $30,000 in scholarship funds. Top harness drivers and trainers Jordan Stratton, D.R. Ackerman and Brandon Simpson also assisted the remaining student drivers from Washingtonville, Burke Catholic, Sullivan West, Minisink Valley, Chester and Pine Bush.

Between races, school districts had the opportunity to cheer for their home town and win a $1,000 School Spirit scholarship. This year, the loudest cheers came from Goshen, winning extra funds in addition to the $1,000 in scholarship funds each district receives from the races.

Next Sunday, June 12, Goshen Historic Track will offer free admission in honour of Orange County Day. For more information, surf to goshenhistorictrack.com.

(Goshen)


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