Sam Meadows and Gabrielle Sammartino Top USHJA National and Pony Hunter Derbies at HITS Culpeper

Culpeper, Va. – April 23, 2023 – Sunday was Derby Day during the Commonwealth National Horse Show at the HITS Commonwealth Park, as riders gathered at Hunter 1 to showcase their mounts in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby and the $1,500 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby. Sam Meadows dominated the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby from start to finish aboard Elated, a talented 6-year-old Hanoverian gelding who also competes in the Green Hunters. Gabrielle Sammartino and Exuberance led the lap of honor after a flawless handy round to close out the day by winning the $1,500 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby.

Sam Meadows and Elated

Matt Bryman set beautiful courses for the day’s highlight events, with both rounds featuring four high options, allowing riders to showcase their mounts’ scope and brilliance. The handy round began with a direct approach from the in-gate to the first vertical, and also tested riders with rollbacks and long approaches to determine the top placings.

Meadows and Elated set a high standard during the first round, earning a score of 90 that would take the lead going into the handy. Meadows was careful not to let the pressure get to him, making smooth turns and displaying Elated’s beautiful effort over each fence to earn a second score of 88 for a 178 total. Ashley Dewoolfson and Corazon followed in a close second with a total score of 176 and the red ribbon. Ken Krome and Grafton Street rounded out the top three with a score of 167.

Elated is owned by Golden Oaks Farm and has been ridden by Meadows since he was three years old. “We know him pretty well,” said Meadows. “He’s still a little green, but he always rises to the occasion. He likes a lot of leg. He's very lazy and he jumps really big, so you have to keep your heels down or he'll jump you out of the tack a little bit!”

Sam Meadows and Elated

Meadows concluded, “I've been coming to HITS Culpeper since I opened my business three years ago and we love it. It's the only horse show that's close for us and everybody's like family, The improvements look great. They're really trying. It's not going to happen overnight, but everything is so great already. I can't wait to see what the future holds.”

Later in the day, the $1,500 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby. Gabrielle Sammartino earned a total score of 151 aboard Exuberance, a German Riding Pony owned by Madeline Rubin, showcasing a smooth and consistent handy round to earn the winning title. The second-place award was presented to Maia McLean and Kid Rock after earning a total score of 148. Alexandra Cawood and Parfait took home the third-place prize with a score of 145.

Gabrielle Sammartino and Exuberance

“This is my first derby ever and Exuberance was really good,” expressed Sammartino after the victory gallop. “It's really amazing. This is our second show together and he was wonderful!”

In July, riders will return to HITS Commonwealth Park for the Showday National and the Cavalier Classic, scheduled for July 5 – 16, 2023. Each week will feature a $20,000 Open Prix and a $2,500 USHJA National Derby, in addition to a large variety of hunter and jumper classics for riders of all levels. For more information visit