March 22, 2024 – Ocala, FL – Throughout the entirety of the inaugural STX Open Speed Series at the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, 17-year-old Madison Kondracki has steadily widened the gap between herself and the other contenders. On Friday afternoon at the final week of the 10-week long circuit, the young competitor sealed the deal as she scooped up one final victory in the series’ exciting finale. Held weekly over the course of the winter, the series offered a new and exciting one-round speed challenge for exhibitors and horses looking to test their talents in HITS Post Time Farm’s Grand Prix ring without contending a course of grand prix proportions. With a wide array of homebred and self-produced horses to choose from, Kondracki put the pressure on the classes’ other contenders early on in the season and continuously raised the bar as she earned the majority of the winnings across the ten weeks. Over Olaf Petersen Jr’s (GER) fast track, Kondracki put the final nail in the coffin as she edged Tracy Fenney and MTM Peanut out of the lead with her own eight year old Hanoverian gelding (Escudo 1), E Storm Cat.

“It’s been a really good season so far, from the beginning to the end it’s really just been about finding consistency for me. My horses are all really green and young horses, just working on consistency and pace and this class is really perfect for us. I just go off of my eye for everything, i never walk my speed courses for the most part because ill get more so in my head. At home we work a l;ot on galloping because i have a big eventing background, so at home we work on galloping and here its all about putting the pieces together. I got my first locker last year but it was smaller, i didnt even realize until the third week that the prize was a locker but i am so excited to get it in use for the rest of our show season!” Having had consistent results herself, Fenney was the only athlete who would even stand a chance to overthrow Kondracki’s reign, but ultimately she settled for the overall second place title of the series as well as second place in the finale class on a time of 66.13 seconds with the MTM Farm’s 10-year-old Warmblood gelding (Capistrano). Bryn Sadler threw her hat in the ring with a valiant effort good enough for third place at the class’s completion aboard Showcase 81 LLC’s 17-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Clearway), Cinven CR. Kondracki was also gifted with a brand new STX Tack Locker for her success. The $15,000 STX Open Speed Series will resume at HITS Hudson Valley where a new series champion will be named and another lucky competitor will come away with a deluxe locker. For a full list of the class results, please visit

Morgan Ward and Comissario Count on Consistency to Win $5,000 SmartPak USHJA National Hunter Derby

As the afternoon sun settled on the main hunter ring at the HITS Post Time Farm, Morgan Ward made one more bid for the top title in the last hunter derby of the season. As the most consistent combination of the season, she and Comissario have taken the honors in multiple derbies and they made sure to leave a lasting impression once more. Across the two-round format, Ward piloted the 19-year-old Warmblood gelding (Calido) to one last blue ribbon on a total score of 184.00 points. “He’s always been consistent since I’ve known him,” Ward said. “He stayed with me the whole way today; I just kind of look and think of where I want to go and he follows. We’ve had so many years together that he trusts me a lot and we speak the same language.”

That trust is something that developed over a lengthy partnership from the promise that the pair would reunite after a separation early on. “I bought him when I was sixteen years old and then he was sold after about a year,” she recalled. “My mom promised me that one day we would buy him back. When that phone call came, he was a total surprise for my twenty-first birthday, and he’s been with me ever since. He’ll never leave us again.”

Hot on her own heels, Ward also earned herself a second place finish with her newer mount Cashmero just one point behind her own lead with a total of 183.00 points. The 13-year-old Warmblood gelding is owned by the Ward family’s Morlynn Farms and became Ward’s newest derby mount when his normal rider took maternity leave. “He is my sister’s amateur horse and she’s on maternity leave now,” she explained. “He’s phenomenal, he has a great expression, and he jumps fantastic. He’s different from Comissario, but he’s always wanting to try and outdo him. It’s nice to have them both do well in this derby.”

David Wilbur combined high scores across two rounds to land in the final winner’s circle position with Redfield Farm’s 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Cornet de Lux), Cornet’s Cuneo, on a total of 179.00 before preparations began for the evening’s $5,000 USHJA Junior/Amateur National Hunter Derby.

A total of 23 combinations lined up for the class’s hunt-and-go course, but the ribboning honors went to Chelsea Kasper and Miss Mo on a total of 170.5 points. “She’s been an amazing partner to me,” Kasper gushed of the 16-year-old Holsteiner mare (Cristo). “We had started to lose a little confidence in each other but our new barn, Cherry Sport Horses, has got us back and feeling amazing.

“I’ve always enjoyed this format,” she continued. “I think it makes you have to be a little more versatile. The two rounds probably level the playing field a bit more but I’ve always enjoyed the hunt-and-go courses.”

A score of 159.00 points positioned Lucy Massucci and her 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Hello Pierville), MTM Cocktail, nicely into second place, while Victoria Leonard and Louis Mayoka’s eight-year-old Hanoverian stallion (Cohibas), Czar HS, rounded out the top three with a total of 155.00 points.

Derby competition will resume on Saturday with junior and amateur pairings lining up for the $750 Bit O’Straw Hunter Derby and $500 Tiny Bit O’ Hunter Derby.