Highlights From The 2009 Memorial Day Classic

Memorial Day Classic

Exhibitors and spectators alike were treated to excellent competition and fabulous weather at the 2009 Memorial Day Classic.

Gaby Gallops to the Win!

In front of a sold out crowd at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, veteran rider and new mom Gaby Salick rode Gredo la Daviere to the top spot in the $25,000 Memorial Day Classic Grand Prix. Out of the 30 horse field, twelve horses jumped the Scott Starnes course clean and returned to the grass. Despite having to go early in the jump off, Salick and her mount proved to be the best. The pair finished ahead of Ray Texel and Waldman Doo in second and Nicole Shahinian-Simpson who took home third place honors aboard Toyster Gold.

Jenny K and Forbes Heading to Kentucky

Also a crowd pleaser, the ASG Software Solutions USHJA Hunter Derby drew a competitive field of horses with almost forty starting the first round. Watching horses and riders exit the ring and jump back in during the course, an enthusiastic audience cheered the hunters on from both the grandstands and the VIP tables on the LAEC Terrace.  Amongst the VIP were ASG and Charles Owen representatives, who enjoyed top competition and a lovely catered dinner.

Jenny Karazissis was able to pilot Forbes (Tonia Cook Looker, owner) to a solid first round trip which left the pair sitting fifth going into the Handy Round.  The top 20 competitors moved into this round, where bonus points are awarded for handiness.  Jenny and Forbes earned the highest score of that round and took the lead.  Ali Leopold improved her standing one place by piloting Neverland (Gina Groth, owner) to a solid performance in the Handy round to take second overall.

“With Rumba in the class I was resigned to second,” said Karazissis, but then fortunes changed and Rumba was out of the running.  “The next thing I knew we were holding on to first and Tonia was beside herself.  She has wanted to win a Derby since they started.”  Earning two seconds at HITS Thermal Derbies (Rumba won both), with this win Forbes has easily qualified for the Derby Finals and will be heading back to Kentucky later in the summer.  The owner shows the gelding in the Amateur Owner Hunters, but sat out at Memorial Day Classic to let Karazissis focus on the Derby.  “Tonia is so supportive of having a horse do the open classes,” added an appreciative Karazissis.

Yowee – Maui! 

Another professional happy with her victory was Kasey Ament.  She is headed to Maui in December as the professional member of the winning team in the Memorial Day Equitation Challenge. Larry Langer, President and CEO of Langer Equestrian Group started the Trainer Incentive awards in order to recognize the backbone of this sport.  “Trainers are not recognized enough for their hard work.  I remember taking 30 plus horses on the road,” explained Langer. “They deserve a vacation in Hawaii and some cash awards. ”  The other team members, junior Navona Gallegos and amateur Michelle Morris won cool cruiser beach bikes.


Offering a full spectrum of classes for all levels of horses and riders, a number of riders excelled at the Memorial Day Classic.  In the equitation, Rachel Thurman (Jim Hagman, trainer) proved that hard work and consistent riding yield excellent results.  Aboard her seven year old gelding Vermeer, Thurman won a very large Maclay class, the WCE, and earned third place finishes in both the USEF and CPHA Foundation classes.

Over in the jumper ring, Chelsea Curtis proved unbeatable.  She was show champion in both the Adult Amateur Jumpers and the Modified Jr/Am Jumpers with her Tadine (Nancy Prosser, trainer) and then continued her winning streak by winning the $1,000 Children’s/ Adult Amateur Jumper Classic.  “It was awesome and felt, really, really good,” said an exuberant Curtis.  “Our first two years together were difficult, and then we clicked.  I’ve been riding with Nancy since I was eleven and I trust her completely.  We just had to get Tadine to think that things we wanted were her own idea.”  When not in the saddle, Curtis is pursing acting at a local college.

Bowling for CPHA

Strike! Every year George Chatigny, CEO of Los Angeles Equestrian Center, organizes the CPHA Foundation Bowling Benefit during the Memorial Day Classic.  “The Benefit has turned into a fun night for everyone at the bowling alley with beer, pizzas, and snacks.  It is also a great fundraiser and in a couple of hours we raise some much appreciated funds for the CPHA Foundation,” explained Chatigny.  Chris Norden of Norden Equine (affiliated with Markel Insurance) fielded a team for the first time and they had a ball (pun intended).  “I last bowled when I was ten,” laughed Norden “but this was fun.  What a great idea and we will definitely be back next year.”

However, it was the Marlay Farms team that took top honors this year, upsetting previous years’ champions the Bowled Tendons and the LEG Up Bowlers, who finished second and third respectively. The funds raised help support the CPHA Foundation’s worthy programs of aiding professionals in times of need and providing higher education opportunities through scholarships and grants.

LEG Schedule
  Langer Equestrian Group is staying busy coordinating horse shows in four different locations. Our flagship operation here at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center hosts a handful of top events annually.

Northern California riders are enjoying the seven shows at the Horse Park at Woodside. The facility continues to improve and the property with miles of trails and a cross-country course is breathtakingly beautiful.

The Hansen Dam Equestrian Center is under new ownership and management, and LEG is pleased to present the Verdugo Hills Series, five USEF ‘B’ and ‘C’ rated shows. Although held over one weekend, they actually count as two one-day shows, allowing riders and trainers to economize at a quality location. The USEF ‘A’ rated Hansen Dam Fall will be our feature show of the year. Don’t overlook this great local competition option. Verdugo Hills 4 is coming up quick, May 30-31. Stalls are available for both overnight and day use.

The Beauty of Colorado is calling
  Looking for a vacation spot to horse show? Can’t beat the beauty of Colorado. With four weeks of horse shows you can compete, beat the heat and bring the family.  The Colorado Summer Circuit kicks off with the Colorado Circuit Preview (June 25-28) and many special classes and events are featured throughout the four week circuit.  

This year LEG expanded its successful Colorado spring shows from two weeks to three weeks, and the response from competitors was resoundingly positive. LEG manages a total of nine weeks of shows at the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colorado.