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August 18, 2012

Fourth Time’s A Charm For Jersey Boy At Derby Finals

They take the title on their fourth try.

Lexington, Ky.—Aug. 18

It’s been a long time coming, but Jen Alfano and Jersey Boy finally topped the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals. 

Jersey Boy, owned by SBS Farms, topped the money-won standings the first three years of the series inception and has been a consistent winner at qualifying competitions. But this prize always eluded him.

“I’m so happy to win because I’ve done it all four times,” said Alfano, Buffalo, N.Y. “Jersey Boy really deserves to win this class. Right from the beginning he just felt perfect. He was really loose and galloping.”

Watch Jersey Boy's round:

Alfano earned the top prize in the handy round on marks of 92, 91.5 and 88.5, with handy bonus points of 9, 9 and 8, to move up to overall first. Brunello came heartbreakingly close, finishing just half a point behind Alfano in the handy to take overall second by a quarter point for owners Boyd and Janet Peterson.

Watch Brunello's round:

Garfield, owned by Alex Crown, and Scott Stewart earned a perfect handy mark of 10 to move up from fifth to third, and his student, Tori Colvin, was right on his heels with Inclusive. Kelley Farmer was the only rider to finish with two horses inside the top 10, riding Bases Loaded to fifth and Taken to seventh.

Watch Garfield's round:

Watch Inclusive's round:

Steve Stephens built the handy round, which incorporated plenty of opportunities for riders to show off. You can see the track here.

Yesterday’s decorative fenceline was now a jump. Riders could choose between two narrow logs to trot, and two hay carts set at different heights to jump. There was no hand gallop marked on the course, but the best rounds saw riders hitting a lick from the start and keeping up the pace.

Lillie Keenan impressed the judges when she nailed a seemingly-impossible turn on Monterray, turning inside a decorative carriage to help earn three marks of 10 for handy bonuses. Watch her round here:

Attempt at a similar turn backfired for Farmer, as two of her mounts—Clearly and Red Sky—dug in their heels after a bold approach to the first fence. Farmer cleared the fence on reapproach (Red Sky took two tries) then tipped her hat and sent them back to the barn.

She wasn’t the only surprise retirement. Stewart finished on top after the Classic Round aboard Dedication, but he pulled up in the middle of an in-and-out early on course.

“He was good at 1 and 2, and then I did the inside turn and legged him too hard, and he jumped out of shape at the third jump," said Stewart. "I think I got in a little too deep and lost his attention at the in-and-out. He would have gone, but I didn’t want him landing in the middle of the jump. It was just a little miscalculation.

“He schooled great out there,” Stewart continued. “I think my ride to the third jump—I think if I had gone around and given him a little more room [it would have worked.] I caught him off guard.”

Watch the round here:

Stewart said yesterday that Dedication has struggled with the night classes in the past, and sure enough, he didn’t display the relaxed style and beautiful form that earned him the class-winning marks yesterday. As Stewart left the ring, he briefly questioned whether the Jumbotron had been on for all the horses (the in-and-out headed directly into the Jumbotron). The in-gate staff and spectators seated near the in-gate agreed that it had been on during all rounds.

That Jumbotron was the undoing of at least one other mount. Hope Glynn’s horse spooked at the screen last year, and she joked that she’d asked her husband for a Jumbotron for Christmas. This December, he may have to pony up. Her mount Woodstock would have none of that screen and dug in his heels and stopped out, even after Glynn tried to finesse him around on reapproach. Watch her round here:

Shawn Casady’s partner Elliot dug in his heels at a log jump set up off the ground, knocking bits off the top of the element, before continuing on nicely and electing several high options. Havana and Tori Colvin, seventh here last year, had a section of the fenceline down and circled to regroup. Colvin had a much better round on her second mount, Inclusive, who jumped to a mark of 93 on his way to fourth.

Another nightmare from last year reappeared this year when Boyd got a little lost and went off course on her first mount, Quatrain. (Last year she jumped a fence not intended to be an option on Brunello.)

“I can’t believe I did that two years in a row!” said Boyd, Camden, S.C. “My dad said afterward, 'You need to forget that happened, don’t beat yourself up over it.’ Before I went in the ring he told me that I’m a great rider.”

Boyd had to follow Alfano’s spectacular trip, which earned plenty of whoops and hollers. Like Alfano, Boyd kicked Brunello into a gallop as soon as she walked into the ring and just kept going. In the end, it came down to a quarter point.

Brunello and Jersey Boy have a lot in common: They’re both very much professional mounts with their own quirks, both seasoned derby contenders who sparkle with a little atmosphere, and both are bold galloping horses. So Boyd wasn’t too disappointed to finish as runner-up to Alfano.

“I just have a lot of respect for Jen,” said Alfano. “She is a great friend and a great horsewoman. I think she knows that horse inside and out. I call Jen and we go over feeding schedules—I mean when it comes to Brunello and ‘Lewis,’ we’re a little obsessed; they’re like our children.”

Watch Bases Loaded's round here:

Watch Taken's round here:

Watch Sandy Ferrell and Friday Night, who finished eighth:

Watch Sienna and Patricia Griffith, who finished ninth:

Watch Ralph Lauren and Brian Feigus, who finished tenth:

Catch a recap of all the action on the Chronicle’s interactive blog from the event.

Full results are available on shownet.biz.

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