USHJA Takes Center Stage at HITS Ocala Winter Finals

March 11, 2009

Lexington, KY – March 11, 2009 – It was all Jersey Boy and Jennifer Alfano at the HITS Ocala Winter Finals $10,000 ASG/USHJA International Hunter Derby this past weekend. The pair put in two impressive rounds in front of a standing room only crowd to ride away with first place honors.

Alfano and the 7-year-old chestnut gelding, owned by Susie Schoellkopf of SBS Farms, are no strangers to the prestigious class, having competed in eight derbies to date. Last year they won the Chagrin Valley Derby and had good showings at six other venues including Devon and the Showplace Spring Spectacular. They currently sit in seventh place in the Derby Finals standings and are qualified for the Finals that will be held at the Kentucky Horse Park this August. For up to date Derby Final standings, click here.

Each derby features two courses, a classical hunter round and a handy hunter course. Alfano guided Jersey Boy around the classical course to a first place finish, besting 60 other entries, and was invited to compete in the handy round along with eleven other riders to contend for top honors. Derby courses are built to encourage and reward brilliance and daring from the rider and true athletic ability from the horse, and Saturday’s course was no exception. The handy round included several options complete with opening a gate. Seasoned competitors, Jersey Boy and Alfano finished the course with over 200 points to clinch the overall first place finish.

After the Derby, HITS president, Tom Struzzieri, hosted a reception in the VIP tent overlooking the Grand Hunter ring to raise awareness and interest in the USHJA’s “Building for Growth” Capital Campaign. The campaign’s goal is to raise $6.5 million to fund and maintain a nationally recognized headquarters for the rapidly growing USHJA at the Kentucky Horse Park. The building is to be completed in the fall of 2009.

USHJA President Bill Moroney and Tracey Weinberg, the “Building for Growth” Capital Campaign Chairperson, gave a presentation about the building and explained new programs the USHJA is introducing this year. A crowd of 175 showed up to learn more about the “Building for Growth” Capital Campaign and lend their support.

Struzzieri said that both the derby and the reception were received with great enthusiasm, and when he was approached by USHJA Capital Campaign Committee member, Penelope Ayers, to host the event, it was an easy answer. “It seemed to be an excellent match to have a fundraiser during the USHJA class,” Struzzieri said. “It was a great opportunity to demonstrate the importance of the organization.”

For more information regarding the Capital Campaign or to learn how to make a donation, please visit the USHJA website.

Visit for a complete Derby schedule and more information. Questions concerning the Derby can be directed to Melanie Fransen, USHJA’s Director of Programs and Education or 859-225-6960.

The 2008/2009 USHJA International Hunter Derby Series is supported by the following sponsors: ASG Software Solutions-Title Sponsor; Dietrich Insurance-Presenting Sponsor; Walsh Harness & Saddlery-Featuring Sponsor; Charles Owen & Co.-Major Sponsor; Dover Saddlery-Major Sponsor; Essex Classics-Award Sponsor

Contact: Rachelle Wilhelm 859-825-6005

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