Entering Saturday's Old Dominion meeting at Orlean, next-to-last event on the point-to-point schedule, an unusually large number of horses are still in the running for the Virginia Timber Horse of the Year award.
Sixteen horses this spring have won the 23 timber races that count toward the championship.
Early in the spring it looked as if Randy Rouse's Free Movement had finally shaken the injury jinx and would be a cinch for the little. The 13-year-old son of Independence, a full brother to Bold Ruler who sired Secretariat, won its first two starts but bowed at Warrenton and is out for the season.
Rouse immediately went to his backup jumper, Cousin Wes, which won at Potomac and Middleburg. But the latter race counts toward the Virginia title.
Two other horses entered in the owner-rider Seven Corners competition, Estremadura and Hami, are in the running. Both are owned and ridden by Mike duPont.
The open timber races have produced two double winners, Mrs. Samuel Bogley's Sabinus and Mrs. Robert Crompton's Master's Degree.
Last year's champion, Flying Boxcar, looked impressive in its only start of the season at Blue Ridge. Barros Negros, B. J.'s Nahar, Mark of Honor and the veteran Timber Topper all have victories.
The top winner of the spring, George Ohrstrom Jr.'s Manco Capac II, will go into the final two meetings with lots of support. Diane Deeds has ridden the 9-year-old chestnut gelding to victories at Blue Ridge, Piedmont and Middleburg.