Some good old-fashioned whiskey took down fine wine.
Tennessee Lane, riding Auli Farwa, nipped at Napa resident Lindsay Fisher’s heels from the Soda Springs start on Saturday and surged past her in the homestretch to finish at 10 p.m. and win the 62nd annual Tevis Cup Ride.
Fisher, aboard Monk, held the slimmest of leads at the Francisco’s checkpoint, but Lane pulled even by River Crossing and eventually won the race by 12 minutes.
This is the second time Auli Farwa has won the Tevis Cup; Jennie Smith rode him to victory in 2015.
The two finished well ahead of the rest of the pack. Jeremy Reynolds, riding Treasured Moments, looked to be solidly placed for third, with a lead of at least 15 minutes, but the rider chasing him was defending champion Dr. Karen Donley, again riding Royal Patron, who surged up the leaderboard in the last third of the race but ran out of time to chase down the front-runners.
Alison Farrin was trying to hold on to a top-five finish with a seven-minute advantage at the Lower Quarry checkpoint over Gabriela and Wasch Blakeley.
Dr. Melissa Ribley had not yet reached Lower Quarry but looked to be in control of eighth, holding a half-hour lead over Dr. Claire Godwin and Lincoln resident Diane Stevens.
The race launched at Soda Springs this year because the snowpack in the high Sierras was so thick it made the upper reaches of the Western States Trail inaccessible. Organizers also shifted another section of the trail to avoid a possibly swollen crossing of the American River, a decision that seemed especially prescient when a morning storm dumped unexpected rain over the high country.
The rain wasn’t bad enough to create problem areas on the course but did hold the dust down and, combined with a refreshingly balmy temperature created conditions for the endurance ride that were as tranquil as they could possibly be.
Still, this is an endurance ride, not a walk in the park, and as of this posting, 71 of the 174 participants had been forced to pull out of the race.
The top 10 horses will be evaluated Sunday morning to determine the winner of the Haggin Cup, which goes to the horse in best condition following the race. All of the awards will be presented at a 2 p.m. ceremony.
A full account of the race and the awards presentation will appear in Tuesday’s edition of the Auburn Journal.