DAYVILLE - The hard work paid off July 4 for Debbie Kopp, who was instrumental in organizing this year's Dayville 5-Mile Horse Race.

She not only got a round of applause for her behind-the-scenes work on the race, but she also took first place in the running.

Despite warm weather, Kopp and her 10-year-old horse Juniper covered the course in 12 minutes, 47 seconds.

Asked if she worried about the heat, Kopp said no.

"We just ran our race," she said. "I let him run, and here we are."

Kopp, of Dayville, received $750, a commemorative buckle and a Leonard Oster saddle as her prize.

Second-place rider Wayne Herron of Union took home a $450 prize and a saddle blanket after finishing the course in 15:15.

In third place was Shelly Samples of Alfalfa, who rode the course in 15:57. She received $250.

Rowdy Nash of Mt. Vernon came in fourth, and Brad Drake of Prineville was fifth.

The race, with staggered starts, begins at the Driscoll ranch. Entrants traverse the hills north of Highway 26, splash across the John Day River, cross the highway, and follow a trail over the hill to Gibbs' arena.

In all, five riders entered the race, and all five finished - no small feat, considering the heat. Organizers said the small field was likely due to the fact that the holiday fell on a Wednesday, limiting the out-of-area entrants.

The event drew quite a few spectators, however. People pulled their cars off the highway to watch the riders cross the river and the highway, and folks stood in the sun at the finish area.

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