Jimmy Torano Wins $5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby

Saturday, August 4, 2012
Posted by Jennifer Ward, Starting Gate Communications



East Dorset, Vermont – Jimmy Torano, of Fort Lauderdale, FL, rode James B. Pirtle Ent., Inc.’s Winner to victory in the $5,000 3’3” NEHJA Hunter Derby on Thursday, August 2, at the 2012 Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT.  The six-week competition began on July 4 and continues through August 12 at Harold Beebe Farm.

This week’s $5,000 3’3” NEHJA Hunter Derby was the final qualifier for the $15,000 3’3” NEHJA Hunter Derby, which will be held on Thursday, August 9, during week six of the Vermont Summer Festival.  In order to qualify for the $15,000 Hunter Derby, a rider or owner must have competed in a Hunter Derby during weeks one through five of the 2012 competition.  The $15,000 Hunter Derby is generously sponsored by Oughton Limited, a Vermont-based equestrian luggage manufacturer that is also presenting a beautiful ‘Wellie’ barn tote to the weekly derby winner.

A total of 21 entries showed in week five’s Hunter Derby with the win going to Jimmy Torano and the aptly named ‘Winner’. Torano and Winner topped the class with a total score of 178 after earning high scores of 88 and 90 in the two-round competition.

In second place, Amanda Steege, of Bedminster, NJ, rode Randi Vladimer’s Duval to scores of 87 and 88 for a two round total of 175. Third place went to Obadiah Finn, owned by Alexine Lesko and ridden by Joanne Kovacs, of Westport, CT, with scores of 86 and 82 for a 168 point total. Amanda Steege also earned the fourth place honors riding Katharine Von Holstein’s Surreal to scores of 83 and 84, totaling 167.

Top horse, Winner, is a nine-year-old Warmblood gelding that competes in the amateur-owner hunters with his owner Daryl Portela. This was only Jimmy Torano’s second time showing the horse, and the pair had two excellent rounds.

Torano explained, “I train him, he is with me all of the time, but I never ride him. Just last week Daryl decided that we should try to qualify for the $15,000 class. I did one class with him at Capital Challenge and won it. He lives in my barn and I get him ready for her, so I know him like the back of my hand, I just don’t usually show him.”

“He is a trier,” Torano noted. “He tries to be good every day. He is not spooky, he walks the lines, he has a great jump; he is just a good horse.”

Torano detailed his rounds, stating, “He felt really good. The first round was a lot of single jumps and a lot of it was spread out. The first jump was off the right lead and I like him better off his right lead. He felt really solid the whole way around; I would say the whole round really matched. We had kind of a long run to the last jump, so I did go ahead and let him gallop a little bit even though it didn’t call for it, and I thought he really jumped the heck out of that.”

“Going into the second round we were really close in points and when Amanda went in there and got an 88, she really put the pressure on me,” Torano continued. “I was going to do all of the inside turns anyway, but I ended up really neatening him up. All of my turns were very tight and I had to because she really put the pressure on. Then once I jumped the second to last jump he jumped about two feet over it and he just felt so on. Once I got to the corner of the ring I just dropped the reins and galloped to the last jump and he didn’t get flat, he really jumped up over it. In both rounds, I have to say he felt perfect. There was not a thing I would have changed, he felt great.”

Torano has been coming to the horse show in Vermont since its beginning and has family roots in the area that keep him coming back each year.

He explained, “I have been showing here since the beginning in Killington and I have been coming to Manchester since it started. We have come every year and we come with a lot of horses. We have had anywhere between 25 and 30 the whole time we have been here, so we have been pretty busy.”

“We like everything about it here,” he added. “It is a really nice country show. The weather is obviously great. My uncle got involved in horses years ago and when he started coming to Vermont he loved it and he bought a house here, so it sort of became our second home. He unfortunately passed away last year, so now we have the house. He was a great supporter here and he was a sponsor. They put a plaque up by one of the rings for him, so I think they think a lot of him and I know he thought a lot of the show. My aunt is still sponsoring. We just really like the show and we have liked it for years. It is a great town and you cannot beat the weather. Everywhere else in the country it is over 100 degrees and even though it is a little warm right now, it has been beautiful here for five weeks.”

Now qualified, Torano plans to compete with Winner in the $15,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby, sponsored by Oughton Limited, on August 9.

Offering more than $750,000 in prize money, the Vermont Summer Festival is the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont.  The first five Saturdays of the Vermont Summer Festival feature a $30,000 Grand Prix.  The $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix will be held during the sixth and final week on Saturday, August 11.  The weekly $10,000 Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, are now held each Thursday.

Competition begins at 8 a.m. daily, Wednesday through Sunday.  Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children.  All of the gate receipts benefit the a number of Manchester area non-profit organizations, including the Mark Skinner Library, Friends Foundation for MEMS, Community Food Cupboard, and Second Chance Animal Center.

For over 20 years, the Vermont Summer Festival has attracted exhibitors and their families to the Manchester region in southern Vermont.  The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member event of the Show Jumping Hall Of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL).  For more information about the Vermont Summer Festival, please e-mail: or visit

$5,000 3’3” NEHJA Hunter Derby Qualifier  - Vermont Summer Festival V
Rider   Horse    Round 1   Round 2   Total
1.  Jimmy Torano   Winner   88    90   178
2.  Amanda Steege   Duval   87    88   175
3.  Joanne Kovacs   Obadiah Finn   86  82  168
4.  Amanda Steege   Surreal   83   84   167
5.  Jill Shull    De Fiero V   85   81  166
6.  Kristen Berian   Daychill   82  83  165
7.  Caitlin Venezia    Preston  78  86  164
8.  Mary Lisa Leffler    Gerona 92    80  78    158
9.  Casey Zuraitis    Unforgettable Flight  76   76    152
10.  Tasha Plunket    Rhinebeck   79  68   147
11.  Samantha Ruttura    Limone   77   69   146
12.  Donald Bourque    7th Heaven   81   40    121

Photo: Jimmy Torano and Winner topped the $5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby on Thursday, August 2, at the 2012 Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT. Photo by David Mullinix Photography