Highlands News-Sun Correspondent


SEBRING – The 2021 Sebring Derby presented by Johnson Stivender Wealth Advisors was held on Friday, evening Nov. 12 to benefit Ridge Area Arc.

This mission of Ridge Area Arc is “serving and advocating for individuals with developmental and other disabilities so that they may have the opportunity to choose and realize their goals.”

They are a not-for-profit organization that was founded in 1957 by Franklyn and Mary Ellen Ward.

Guests were greeted at the check-in by Sandi Laufer and Rebeca Rivera at the desk and Arc CEO Kathleen Border and Director of Development, Donna Scherlacher.

Several large tables were filled with silent auction items some of which included wine and liquor baskets, Christmas packages, designer handbags, a game package, a George Foreman Grill and events tickets to museums and sports events, and a variety of gift baskets.

Bob and Carol Mascari were looking over all of the items with a special interest in the wine tasting entry in the silent auction Many people were watching the bidding to make sure they were the winner Event sponsors included Bageell Lumber, First Southern Bank, Griffin’s Carpet Mart, Heacock Insurance Group, Highlands News-Sun, Marcia Ward, Stephenson-Nelson FuneralHomes and The Sebring Radio Group. Beer was provided by JJ Taylor Distributing of Sebring.

“I know I shouldn’t have favorites, but the Sebring Derby is probably my favorite event that we have,” said Scherlacher.  “It’s fun, interactive, and can get quite competitive too.”

The festivities began with attendees lining up at the betting windows to select their horses for the evening. Everyone received “Funny money” and could be on two horses per race. There was a daily double bet for races 4 and 5 where you had to pick the winners of both races.

Some of the horses running that evening were “Electric Blanket” (has been kept under wraps. this plug can get hot!) “Ship to Shine” (will cruise in easily and land you an income) and “Monkey’s Uncle” (don’t fool around with this choice, it could prove to be a relative loss.)

The pre-recorded races were a lot of un. It was post-time at River Downs. The sounds of the bugler at the post call, dressed in his black hat, red jacket, white pants, and tall boots, lent authenticity to the event.

People shouted, hollered, screamed, and were generally excited and really into the racing. Everyone was rooting for their horse to come across the finish line first. There were several exciting photo finishes.

“You know the horse who starts out in the lead never wins,” laughed, MC Don Elwell.

High rollers could own a horse for $10 for a chance to win a trophy and be in the running to win $100.

A competition was held for the best derby attire. The male winner was Gabe Clogston, the female winner was Carol Mascari.

A variety of hors d’oeuvres were offered including hot and cold choices, fruit, and petite cakes.

After the 10 races were over, everyone counted their winnings to see how much they had to bid on three mystery boxes. You never know if the small box is the best or the big one. Turns out all of them contained nice gifts to the winners with the most money.