It was Derby Day at Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Show, with hunters and jumpers competing in their own derby classes simultaneously on the show grounds. Victory in the $20,000 Speed Derby of North Salem, Presented by Miller Motorcars went to McLain Ward and Zander, who were clear and fast over the challenging course.
Twenty-eight horses and riders attempted Alan Wade's 17-numbered obstacles on the course for the speed derby. Faults were converted into seconds, so speed was of the utmost importance. The early leader in the class, Jeffery Welles and Prem' Dollar Boy, owned by Mary Kate Olsen, had a rail, but when added, their time of 100.359 seconds,went to the top of the leaderboard and would eventually finish sixth.
The next to go into the lead was Gabriela Mershad on Mershad Stables LLC's Udonna. They also had a rail, but lowered the time to 99.334 seconds. Lillie Keenan and Londinium's clear round took a chunk of four seconds off the winning time to 95.973 seconds, but immediately following her was Darragh Kenny on Oakland Ventures LLC's Fantasy. They were clear and fast in 92.282 seconds, which would eventually hold up for second place.
Two horses later, it was McLain Ward and Zander, owned by Grant Road Partners LLC. Their smooth, economical trip clocked in at 92.089 seconds to take the lead. Ward recalled, “I was lucky enough to have a decent draw. I got to see Darragh go right before me and have a great round. I knew I had to pretty much put the pedal down and try to stay quickly everywhere.”
Ward had to worry, however, when Kenny entered last on G&C Flash, owned by Alexander LLC. Kenny and Flash had the time down to the final jump, but took a rail down to add four seconds and finish in 94.636 seconds for third place.
While Zander is a top grand prix horse, he has not had the experience of derby classes. Ward explained, “This horse has jumped a lot of natural obstacles, but never the banks and grob. It was a little bit new for him, but I felt comfortable and he handled it well. He's had a great two shows here at Old Salem.”
Ward felt that Zander, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding by Cantos, was fit and ready for the long course. “He's a horse that shows often enough. That was a real factor in this class. You saw the last fence come down a lot. You certainly have to conserve a little energy where you can. If you go full speed from the first jump, normally it catches you by the last,” he noted.
Ward feels that the Speed Derby is a special occasion, especially on the grass Grand Prix Field of Old Salem Farm. “We don't have many derbies; it's a pretty rare class. This is a particularly exciting class from a horseman's point of view,” he said. “It's a lot of different questions and really getting back to the roots of where the sport started. I think it's wonderful that we have it in this really traditional horse area of Westchester [County].”
Final Results: $20,000 Speed Derby of North Salem, presented by Miller Motorcars
1 657 ZANDER MCLAIN WARD GRANT ROAD PARTNERS LLC: 92.089
2 480 FANTASY DARRAGH KENNY OAKLAND VENTURES LLC: 92.282
3 481 G&C FLASH DARRAGH KENNY ALEXANDER LLC: 94.636
4 45 LONDINIUM LILLIE KEENAN CHANSONETTE FARM LLC: 95.973
5 496 UDONNA GABRIELA MERSHAD MERSHAD STABLES LLC: 99.334
6 1091 PREM' DOLLAR BOY JEFFERY WELLES MARY KATE OLSEN: 100.359
7 248 GANJANA NICHOLAS DELLO JOIO NATHALIE DE GUNZBURG: 100.802
8 489 PICOLO DARRAGH KENNY OAKLAND VENTURES LLC: 100.983
9 494 SINATRA IV MEG O'MARA WALLSTIB STABLES LLC: 101.013
10 425 HH CASALLO QUENTIN JUDGE DOUBLE H FARM: 105.262
11 780 SI BELLA ADAM PRUDENT HENRI PRUDENT: 105.621
12 388 MON GAMIN BRIANNE GOUTAL REMARKABLE FARMS LP: 105.754
Source: Press release from Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
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