The Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association and the horsemen who compete at Freehold Raceway gathered in the winner's circle on Friday, Jan. 31, to salute outrider Beth Cumberland. After the fourth race on the card, Cumberland was presented with a plaque which read: "Thank you for your exemplary horsemanship on January 10, 2014.” Joining her for the presentation were SBOANJ Executive Administrator Leo McNamara and nearly two dozen trainers and drivers.
Cumberland has been the outrider at Freehold Raceway since 1999. A former jockey, she also serves as an exercise rider for the stable of thoroughbred trainer Alan Goldberg, based in Colts Neck, NJ.
On a daily basis, Cumberland leads post parades and assists drivers with their horses who might not want to go to the gate or turn properly. But every once in a while she and her horse, Jazz, are put to the test by a miscue on the track, as was the case of the multi-horse accident on January 10.
"Beth is someone who does her job so well that she often doesn't get acknowledged for the role she plays in the safety of our horsemen,” said SBOANJ President Tom Luchento. "We thought we'd take this opportunity to honor her for both her day-to-day work ethic and her extraordinary job of rounding up loose horses after the accident earlier this month.”
Freehold Raceway will also honor Cumberland for her 15 years of service at the Standardbred Pleasure Horse Organization of New Jersey's awards banquet on February 9, 2014 at the Holiday Inn in East Windsor, NJ.
"Having an outrider of Beth's caliber out on the track is extremely comforting to me as both the director of racing and a harness racing fan,” Karen Fagliarone said. "We are extremely lucky and grateful to have her here at Freehold. She is without a doubt one of the best in the business.”
Cumberland, 46, is from Manchester, NJ and is the mother of 28-year-old Shawna Nicole. She started galloping horses in 1988, rode her first race at the Meadowlands in 1989 and picked up her first victory as a jockey in 1990 at Garden State Park. Her career stats include 78 wins, 88 seconds and 109 thirds from 997 starts for earnings of $523,664.
Riding spills, broken bones and concussions took their toll, and she decided to hang up her tack, working at various track jobs, including ponying horses and filling in as outrider at Philadelphia Park [now Parx]. In 1999, she was asked to work the summer meet as the outrider at Freehold and never left. While she is still exercising thoroughbreds for Alan Goldberg in the spring, summer and fall, she has filled in the gap in her schedule the last two winters, jogging and training trotters and pacers for Steve Smith and Karen Garland.
Cumberland's mount, Jazz, is a striking chestnut thoroughbred with white stockings and blaze, who retired as a racehorse when he was four after some success on the turf.
"I thought he was a show horse prospect,” explained Cumberland. "But then I realized he was great at outriding and maybe a bit too hot for showing. He's very agile and can reach full speed in three or four steps.”--By Carol Hodes for the SBOANJ