Goshen - Six high school seniors lined up behind the starting car on June 19 to further their college careers and have some fun driving horses. Both tasks were accomplished handily as the close finish at the wire provided fans and families with something to cheer about. A narrow length separated the winner, Marissa Sarbak of Warwick from her equally competitive place and show challengers. Marissa, an avid equestrian rider who has been practicing driving harness horses for more than a month, was content to sit back and let a speed duel play out on the front end. She won her elimination race on the front-end two weeks ago, with an exuberant George Brennan aboard as the co-pilot. This week she was teamed up with Gareth Dowse of the Ray Schnittker stable and sat back until the three-quarter pole and made her move going down the backstretch. As she urged her steed down the homestretch she passed Gregory Hart (of Tuxedo, who placed second) and Jess Velez (of Florida, who finished) to get up for the win in 2:02.1. Second elimination winner Tyler Jones of Valley Central finished fourth. He would later announce that he was donating his grant earnings to a fellow Valley Central graduate and baseball teammate who had been diagnosed with Leukemia and is awaiting a bone-marrow transplant. All the students in the final event earned $1,000 for their school district and at least a $2,000 grant for their own individual college requirements. For her efforts as the race winner, Marissa earned $5,000 toward her college tuition. She plans to study communications beginning this fall at SUNY Oswego. Information for this story, as well as the photograph, was provided by Chris Tully, the general manager at Goshen Historic Track.
Where does the scholarship funding come from? According to Chris Tully, the general manager at Goshen Historic Track, Ray Schnittker has single-handedly raised $100,000 over the last three years to maintain Goshen Historic Track’s scholarship race program. For more information, check out the track’s Web site at GoshenHistoricTrack.com.