Jenny Karazissis Tops the $10,000 Memorial Day USHJA International Hunter Derby

May 28th, 2013 12:10 PM | Comments Off on Jenny Karazissis Tops the $10,000 Memorial Day USHJA International Hunter Derby

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Jenny Karazissis and Jamestown win the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby in fine style
Photo: Flying Horse Photography

Sunday was a day of firsts for several riders at the Memorial Day Classic (March 23-27), when a few dipped their toes in the derby waters for the first time by entering the $10,000 Memorial Day USHJA International Hunter Derby. Jenny Karazissis has entered many derbies in her career, but it was Jamestown’s (Nina Vogel, owner) first time. “Because it was his first derby, more than anything, I just wanted him to have a good experience,” Jenny mentioned. “We actually decided yesterday to do the class. It wasn’t on our radar at all, but I thought since he was here, we should do it and the owners agreed.”

In keeping with the plan of giving Jamestown a good experience, Jenny decided not to take any of the higher options offered on either course. The course design by Chris Collman provided several different track options to the riders, and depending on the options they took, their courses could look quite different.

“It quickly got boring offering the four higher option fences side-by-side all the time,” Chris remarked. “So I started separating some of the option fences. At first, I simply moved them away from each other, but eventually I started setting them in entirely different parts of the ring and sometimes riders could approach them from different directions and leads. This has allowed me to be much more creative in designing the tracks. I felt the course offered just the right challenges without becoming too difficult. It set the stage and allowed the horses and riders to perform to the best, or worst, of their abilities.”

Jamestown proved he could handle the hunter round splendidly and he and Jenny scored an 167 in the first round to put them in second place. Hugh Mutch (John Charlebois, trainer) and Dinner For Two (Rebecca Reyes, owner) led after the first round with a score of 171.

The handy round truly separated riders as they had to handle the tight tracks on Chris’s course. “Jamestown has experience in the equitation, so I really just wanted to make it to the handy round because I knew he would do well,” Jenny said. “After Hugh’s high score, I definitely considered changing my plan and possibly going for some of the higher options. But I had to consider my horse. I wanted him to have a good first experience, and I also didn’t want to chance a rail.”

Jenny’s plan worked and Jamestown executed the tight inside turns beautifully, earning handy bonuses of 8 points from each of the sets of judges. The pair shot to the lead with a total score of 350. Hugh made an effort to be just as handy as Jenny, but unfortunately some cross canter steps on the tight turn knocked him into third. Michael Leon and Copado (Pinon West LLC, owner) moved into second place after a consistent handy round with all four higher options.

The win was made even sweeter with her family by her side. “My daughter Katrina rode in the derby as well and I got to watch her do her first round, which was really good,” Jenny noted. “She also did great in the handy and I’m so proud of her!” Katrina placed fourth overall aboard Leopold Von Bayern (Adrianna Moore, owner).

As the derby pits professionals, amateurs, and juniors against each other, LEG recognizes the top placing amateur and junior in the class. Cece Manze (Joe Thorpe, trainer) placed seventh overall on Curacao (Michael Chaney, owner) and received a special ribbon for being the highest placing junior rider. “This was my first derby ever and I don’t usually jump this high with this horse,” Cece commented. “But my sister, Devon, did it last year, and I just wanted to go in and do it and have fun.”

Although she is young and inexperienced in the derbies, Cece handled the course well. She bravely took all four of the higher option fences and was rewarded with six handy bonus points from one set of judges and seven from the other set. “The second round was kind of scary because Lily, the other junior, and I had to go first and second, but I was really happy with my second round and proud of my horse,” Cece said.

Cece also enjoyed the opportunity to compete against some renowned riders. “I ride as a 15-year-old and I was in there with all the professionals so it was pretty cool,” she remarked. “Hap Hansen is such a famous, amazing rider, and to place only one placing below him is huge. The professionals were all really nice and rooted me on.” Hap and his spirited mount, Happy Go Lucky (Geraldine Bidwell, owner), placed sixth.

For the third year in a row, the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby hosted a fundraiser for After the Finish Line (ATFL), a charitable organization for off-the-track Thoroughbreds. Attendees munched on a delicious dinner and bid on silent auction items that included art from Fred Stone, restaurant gift certificates, gift baskets, and more while they watched the action unfold in the arena.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of the horse show,” commented Dawn Mellen, President of ATFL. “We are so thankful to LEG to have this opportunity to raise money for off-the-track Thoroughbreds and bring awareness of these horses to the riders here. It was a wonderful evening. We sold all of our VIP tables and box seats and the auction items were bid high, so we raised a lot of money for the horses.”

The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Incentive Program encourages shows to have special classes just for Thoroughbreds, offering prize money and special ribbons. Dawn is thrilled about this new program. “All across the United States, off-the-track Thoroughbreds are being honored with these special classes, and it’s wonderful to see them at the shows enjoying show ring careers.”

Earlier in the Equidome, over 20 riders competed in the LA Saddlery Junior Medal, and Alexandra Ladove (Lori De Rosa, trainer) came out on top aboard her Schubert. The difficult work off included a halt, counter cantering a fence, and two fences off short rollbacks. “I wanted to make sure I had enough pace to the first jump, but not too much so I could get the halt early and go into the counter canter,” Alexandra recounted. “I also wanted to make sure to angle the third jump because it was kind of a difficult turn so I wanted to have more room to the last oxer.”

Alexandra was the only one to slice the third fence in the work off, and her forward thinking kept her in the lead and earned her the blue ribbon. “I’ve been practicing for the medal finals this year and this win shows me that my work is paying off,” Alexandra remarked. “I want to do the medal finals on the West Coast, but my main goal is to qualify for the Washington International because I’ve never made it before.”

Jumper Tammy Chipko (Rusty Stewart, trainer) demonstrated her versatility by crossing over to the hunter arena. After winning reserve champion in the 1.20M Jumpers on her Mini Coupe, Tammy excelled in the 3’6” Amateur Owner Hunters on her new hunter Fabulous and won the $1,000 3’6” Amateur/Owner Hunter Classic. “I have been out of the hunters for a long time, so it was great to get back into it,” Tammy explained. “I love the hunters but I haven’t had a hunter horse to compete with. I just got Fabulous last week so he is very new to me, but he absolutely lives up to his name.”

Tammy enjoyed the variety of Chris Collman’s course design for the hunter rounds. “I thought the course design was great,” she commented. “It was different from most hunter courses and it was nice to have so many different jumps and not just do the outside lines and across the diagonal.” For the rest of the show year, Tammy plans to continue showing in the hunters and hopes to get back in the grand prix ring with her main jumper, Zico 13.

Justin Resnik and Ballingtogether Mustateer fly to the finish in the $2,500 1.20-1.25M Jumper Classic
Photo: Flying Horse Photography

At the grass field, a crowd of spectators gathered to watch the $2,500 1.20M-1.25M Jumper Classic. Twenty-one horse and rider combinations tried to master the course. Alden Giacopuzzi (Erin Isom, trainer) was first to go clear on Uncle Sam (Julia Difiori, owner). She set the bar for the jump off with another clear round in 47.734 seconds. After seven riders failed to go double clear, it was Marnye Langer (Team McAllister, trainer) on LEGIS Rockstar (, owner) who zipped into the lead with a clear jump off in 45.222 seconds.

Though many riders tried to catch Marnye, she held the lead until the last team, Justin Resnik and Ballingtogether Mustateer (Gavin Brodin, owner), walked onto the course. “I knew I had to be quite fast since Marnye had laid down such a fast time in the jump off,” Justin noted. Unlike most of the other riders, he collected his horse in front of the second vertical so he could slice it and make a quick turn afterwards. He also took a daring short turn and slice to the final oxer. The two risks paid off, and Justin went clear in 42.653 seconds to take the lead.

“It was a nice class and the jump off was a well designed speed round,” Justin commented. “It’s great for my clients that shows are offering more prize money for some of the lower jumper classes.” Since Justin’s barn is at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, these home shows are a convenient way for his horses to gain experience. “I love this show. It’s a lot of fun and it’s in my backyard so that’s nice,” he said. Justin plans to ride three horses in the $30,000 Memorial Day Classic Grand Prix on Monday. Although all the tables are sold out, there are still general admission tickets available at Center Box Office, so come on down for a day of great entertainment!

The Memorial Day Classic wraps up Monday with the $30,000 Memorial Day Grand Prix. Be sure to check back for our report on the grand prix, $3,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, and other highlights.

For more information on Memorial Day Classic, including a prize list, schedule, and complete results, visit the newly redesigned LEG website.

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