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Sophia Calamari and Spellbound

Sophie Calamari and Spellbound with Piper Klemm of the Plaid Horse magazine and Gary Duffy of Little Brook Farms

Claudia Freeman and Serenade in Blue

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Sophia Calamari and Spellbound See Success in $5,000 Pony Derby at The Derby at the Genesee Country Village & Museum

Written by: Emily Riden
Client: The Derby at The Genesee Country Village & Museum
Release Date: 2015-06-06

Mumford, NY – June 6, 2015 – The Derby at the Genesee Country Village & Museum broke ground last year as the only stand-alone USHJA Hunter Derby event on the east coast, and this week, The Derby again introduced something new, and to rave reviews: the first stand-alone $5,000 Pony Derby.

The course for the inaugural class, sponsored by Ponies and Palms Show Stables, was set amidst the Village Square of the Genesee Country Village & Museum and surrounded by many of the historical buildings that comprise the 19th-century living history museum. The setting created a beautiful backdrop and something unique for the young riders and ponies competing on Saturday afternoon.

Riding away with the win in the special class were Sophia Calamari and Spellbound, owned by Ponies and Palms Show Stables. Spellbound has been extremely successful, earning top ribbons and honors, including being named the 2014 Devon Horse Show Grand Champion Pony Hunter, and he exhibited that same success in the show ring today with Calamari in the irons.

“He was amazing,” Calamari said. “He loves the grass. I think they just love to be out of the ring. This is just so different for them.”

Calamari continued, “I love going on the grass. It’s way more fun! I liked that there was a crowd here, because usually we don’t have that.”

While both Calamari and Spellbound have seen great success in the hunter show ring, the pony derby creates a different venue for ponies, riders and trainers, and it is designed to create a true test of riders’ abilities, as well as giving them a leg-up into future hunter derbies.

“They have to be resourceful in that ring,” said trainer Gary Duffy of Little Brook Farms. “If things are not going as well as you’d like, you have to be resourceful and pick it up. It’s not like in the hunter ring where the strides are designated, and the number has to be correct. Here, if you find one a little quiet you can make a broken line fit one more in and still get it done smoothly. It’s all about being smooth.”

Duffy continued, “I wish my kids would have done the derbies as kids and in the ponies. I think this is just another stepping stone to make better riders in the country.”

Duffy trains Calamari, as well as second place finisher Claudia Freeman, who rode to the reserve position on Deborah Brown-Moon’s Serenade In Blue.

“I liked having a change of rings here today,” Freeman said. “It’s way more fun. We had a lot of fun schooling out here. It’s something different. I think it was a challenge for [the ponies] a little bit more than they’re used to, and it kept their attention. It’s something different for them so that they don’t get bored as well.”
The high score of the pony derby went to Francesca Calamari on El Nino who earned a score of 87 plus the four bonus points for a 91 total in the first round before the pair finished fourth overall.

“I loved the jumps,” said Francesca. “It was really pretty.”

The $5,000 Pony Derby was made possible by the hard work of TSG Equine Events and event manager Brian Brown and the generous sponsorship from Ponies and Palms Show Stables, owned by Leslie Butzer.

“Leslie would have loved to have been here,” said Duffy, Butzer’s trainer of three years. “She’s a good exhibitor, a good owner and a good breeder. She does all those things and does them well.”

Additional prizes for the pony derby were provided by The Plaid Horse magazine.

Competition at The Derby continues on Sunday with the highlight event, the $35,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. The event kicks off at 1 p.m., and tickets are available at the door or online here.

This year, The Derby benefits Make-A-Wish Western New York. The organization grants close to 150 wishes each year to children diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions, and a minimum of $7,500 in event proceeds from The Derby will be given toward the granting of these wishes.  

Stay up to date with all the latest announcements and updates from The Derby by liking the event on Facebook here!
For more information on The Derby at the Genesee Country Village & Museum, please visit


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