Saugerties, N.Y.—Sept. 5
“Drinks are on you tonight!” yelled New Jersey-based trainer Emil Spadone as he drove past Margot Peroni and Orlon on his way back to the barn.
In fact, nearly everyone Peroni passed was saying something to the same effect.
They had good reason to, as the winner of the Platinum Performance $250,000 Hunter Prix Final, she was leaving HITS-on-the-Hudson VIII with a $75,000 payday.
Four riders were called back for the final round of the hunter prix, and Peroni was the last to go. Her smile was big walking out of the ring, and when it took some time for her score to come in, she looked around, asking, “Is there no score?”
And when the score did come, she cracked a smile that didn’t leave her face for better part of the next half hour. Tears flooded her eyes, and as she was asked for an interview on the way back to the barn, she replied, “If I can stop crying.”
The more people she passed, with Orlon adorned in his championship ribbons, the bigger her smile got. We’d almost made it back to her barn when she remarked, “My face is starting to hurt, but I can’t stop smiling!”
And she had plenty to be proud of, she purchased “Baby O” as a 2-year-old in Europe and brought the now-6-year-old up herself under the guidance of her trainers at Redfield Farm, Spadone and Ashley DiBongrazio. They competed in this class last year while they were still doing the adult amateurs. This year they’ve moved up to the 3’3″ amateur-owner hunters.
“He’s so sweet and so brave. He was fabulous [last year,] and we were having a beautiful round last year and just a green moment to the wine barrel jump last year that kept us out of the top four spots,” said Peroni, 33. “At the last minute we said, we have enough points, let’s skip the [amateur-owners] and do the class and give it one more crack.”
Before the awards ceremony was even finished, Peroni asked for her phone, knowing there was one person she needed to call. Her mom.
“My mom was thinking about coming up, but she didn’t want to make me nervous, so she stayed home,” Peroni said. “My husband said, ‘I called her and told her that we were in the top four; she’s in the movies.’ I said, ‘Give me the phone and I’ll call her.’ I called her in the movies and she started crying too.”
The hunter prix was conducted in a four-round format. All entries competed in the first two rounds, with the 25 pairs earning highest cumulative scores would advance to the third round. The top four finishers for the third round would return for a fourth round, with the combined scores from those two rounds determining the victors.
The second round course was the exact track used for the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix, and it took it’s toll on the horses and riders. The second fence, the HITS vertical, saw a number of rails fall, as did the first option fence on the bank, shaking up the top placings.
Third-placed rider after the first round Betty Oare took a tumble from Zazu when the horse stumbled and stopped at the down bank, but she walked away uninjured, making jokes with the gate crew.
Kimberly Maloomian and Invincible, who led after the first round, incurred a stop at the bank, but the pair pressed forward without circling. Their first round score was enough to carry them to the clean-slate third round, and they finished in the reserve spot.
Olivia Hellman rode Woodstock to third, and Jacquelyn Maggoire took fourth on her own Contina.
The Stal Hendrix Pre-Green Futurity Final also wrapped up today, with Tracey Fenney taking the top spot with MTM Fashion. The class followed the same format as the Hunter Prix, with Sunset Hill (Heather Caristo-Williams), Corinna RS (Cassandra Kahle) and Fetching (Patricia Griffith) rounding out the top four.
Want more action from HITS Saugerties? Check out the gallery from Friday and return to coth.com tomorrow for coverage of the final rounds of the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final and the CP Million Grand Prix presented by Wells Fargo.
For in-depth coverage and details on the Stal Hendrix Pre-Green Futurity, don’t miss the September 21 issue of the Chronicle.