Derek Petersen and Zechariah Blaze to First Victory of HITS Ocala Holiday Premier

Photo by: ESI Photography

Ocala, FL – Dec. 1, 2023 – The “Ocala Holiday Premier” kicked off the month of December and its winter competition with a win from local grand prix veteran Derek Petersen and Zechariah. Petersen and Zechariah are well known in the area for taking a place in the victory gallop and their winter debut proved to be no different. The December 1 premier date is the first in a total of 12 weeks of competition hosted at HITS Post Time Farm spanning December through March. 

Petersen and his own nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Zirocco Blue VDL) were one of eight combinations to advance to the short track but their fault-free and fast finish of 36.479 seconds took the lead by over three seconds from the runner-up in the class. 

“This course really suited my horse’s ability to be slick and tidy,” commented Petersen of the Chris Jones-designed track. “It was a friendly open course and a good way to start off the series. There were big gaps between the jumps that allowed for a forward gallop which is one of Zechariah’s strong suits. He is excellent at keeping his pace all the way to the bottom of the fence, and I think the gallop was where we were able to get ahead in the time.” 

Photo by: ESI Photography

Dorrie Douglas and the Davenport Farms’ 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Perigueux), MTM Pablo, put in a solid two-round performance to secure the second place position with a double-clear effort and a finishing time of 39.957 seconds. Dominique Damico rounded out the top three with Amberfax Farm, Inc.’s nine-year-old KWPN gelding (Plot Blue) Jamaica after putting in a flawless effort and stopping the clock in 41.56 seconds. 

As for Petersen, the win was a warm way to kick off what he hopes to be an exciting and full season at HITS Ocala. 

“I will have Zechariah in the grand prix on Sunday and I hope to spend most of the winter here,” described Petersen. “We really enjoy how family oriented they are here and how friendly everyone is. I feel blessed to be back here and back with this horse.” 

A full array of hunter, jumper, and equitation competition will continue on Saturday, December 2, 2023 and feature highlights including the $5,000 HITS Open Prix as well as the Marshall & Sterling Bit O’ Straw 2’6” Hunter Derby and the Marshall & Sterling Tiny Bit O’ 2’0” Hunter Derby. For a full schedule, please visit