Delaware’s Tradition beats Mother Nature in Winterthur’s 2019 Point-to-Point Race
May 8, 2019
Mother Nature brought nonstop rain and chilly temperatures to New Castle County on May 5th, but that didn’t stop die-hard horse-racing fans from gathering on the grounds of Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library for the 41stAnnual Point-to-Point Steeplechase.
Known to house Delaware’s elite and “who’s who,” this event marks the beginning of the spring/summer season. Like its well-known cousin the Kentucky Derby, aside from the horse racing itself, a lot of emphases is placed upon the attendees’ fashion. Typically, the sunny weather attracts hundreds of men and woman dressed to impress in brightly colored sundresses, pastel suits, sandals, and elaborate fascinators fit for the royal family.
But this year, with the National Weather Service issuing a flash flood watch for the entire state of Delaware, many of those fashion-forward looks were replaced with not-so-glamorous, but much more practical rubber rainboots and garbage bags used as makeshift ponchos. Flip flops, on the other hand, were collectively the crowd’s biggest regret, and those who made the mistake of sporting them were seen dragging their bare feet along the horse track. With umbrellas in hand, those who chose to keep with tradition despite the bad weather could be spotted wearing dresses gloomily covered by raincoats, paired with waterproof duck shoes that came in handy when trekking up and down the muddy slopes. Mercedes Argany, an attendee who came very well-dressed in a traditional British-inspired look quoted “I knew I would find the right occasion” when asked about her vintage top hat, that had been passed down by her great grandfather.
Another attendee that didn’t let the weather rain on her parade was Dr. Mary Schreiber, a veteran of the event whose hot pink and white ensemble stood out amongst the crowd and won her the title of 2019’s Point to Point ‘Best Dressed.’ When asked what inspired her look, she said, “You must get a feel for the event…and with this weather, I just wanted to do something that was bright and colorful. I knew that white would be like a forbidden color because of all the rain and mud, so I figured I’d just go for it! As for my hat, it’s from The Country Store in Greenville.” She went on to explain that the weather wouldn’t deter her from coming back next year, and even hinted that her future outfit would be bigger and better. “I think I’m going to do something with blues and yellows, and maybe even something unusual like feathers!”
But, with non-refundable tailgating and admission fees starting at $30 and climbing upward of $1,000, others felt obligated to get their money’s worth, power through the unfortunate circumstances, and enjoy all of what they could. “It’s a very wet Point to Point…the races were canceled…but the party wasn’t,” said Argany. Food trucks like the popular Woodside Farm Creamery and independent vendors also stood their ground against the rainstorm and even managed to make a few bucks selling ice cream, hats, and handmade goods.
This seemed to keep most entertained, but even that couldn’t keep some guests present. Some families opted to cut their day short and head out early, as appearances from the Delaware State Police Pipe Band, and the antique carriage parade; one of Point to Point’s most notable annual happenings were delayed, along with other anticipated family activities that were rescheduled indefinitely. Even the main event, a series of horse races with hefty takings ranging from $10,000 to a whopping $41,000, were delayed by 45 minutes and then ultimately canceled due to decreasing visibility and deteriorating track conditions.
Although the continuation of this year’s event wasn’t looking too promising, at least the future of Pont to Point racing was looking bright, as Junior league jockeys took to the racetrack, and were able to showcase their budding skillset in this very prestige sport. William Slater, the 7-year-old champion showed great potential for a racing career. He explained that he’d been riding since the age of one and has taken home numerous awards. Slater expressed his passion for racing saying, “Sometimes I get nervous and it’s hard to control my horse named Hoof-Hearted…but going fast in a race is still my favorite thing to do.”
We’re sure everyone in attendance would agree with Slater, that there’s just something exhilarating about horse-racing, and that the history of the Point-to-Point Steeplechase at Winterthur brings a sense of elegance, comradery, and pride to the small, but culturally rich first state.
By: Briana Harris