Speed was the name of the game Friday afternoon during the $20,000 1.45m Bluegrass Classic. Forty-seven horse and rider combinations entered into the speed class during the Kentucky Classic. It came down to a foot race with Todd Minikus and Cordonos, owned by Matthew de Grande of Long Valley, NJ, taking the victory in a wire-to-wire speed round, beating out Shane Sweetnam and Beluga for the blue ribbon ride.
Capturing a ribbon during the $20,000 Bluegrass Classic was no easy feat with only 11 of the 47 entries jumping Bernardo Cabral's course without error. Shane Sweetnam was only the third to take on the track, executing his plan perfectly to set the pace as the trailblazer. Sweetnam and Beluga, a 10-year-old mare owned by Spy Coast Farm, LLC of E Setauket, NY, opted for the inside track, a decision that only four other riders would take.
"I thought Bernardo did a nice job with the course," Sweetnam remarked. "There were options for inside turns, and I went for the inside route. She is a good mare, but she doesn't have the biggest stride in the world. I didn't want her getting too flat, so that is why I did the turns with her."
Sweetnam exited the ring, happy with his time of 62.530 seconds, but had the inkling that it would not hold for the first place finish. He had stuck to the regular number up the first line, as well as through the double combination, leaving a window for defeat.
"I actually executed my plan perfectly, but I felt I would get beat-and I did get beat," Sweetnam admitted. "There were a few people that were faster than me but had one down. When I came out I thought that I would have a top three finish because I had left two areas where someone could catch me."
His time to beat would continue to hold for 40 trips, with riders compensating accuracy for speed and pulling rails in an attempt to catch the Irish rider. Roberto Teran and Farina, owned by Ark Partners LLC of Wellington, FL, put in a clean round in a quick 63.168 seconds, but the 6/10ths of a second would put him just behind Sweetnam.
It was not until Todd Minikus and Cordonos, the second to last combination to take on the track, gave it a shot, that defeat seemed plausible. Minikus left out a stride down the first line, as well as through the combination, using pure speed rather than the inside options to take the victory away from Sweetnam. They tripped the timers in a blazing 60.766 seconds.
"I watched Shane go and he had a heck of a round," Minikus said. "He did an inside turn to the vertical and to the oxer, which I was too chicken to try. I saw that there was a window by leaving out strides, so I used raw speed around instead of going inside, and I just nipped him. Purina-power wins again!"
Minikus continued, "Cordonos is a horse that won that first grand prix in Wellington this year and then had some nice results the rest of season. He had a little streak where he had the fastest time with one down quite a few times, bad racing luck. Today, the jump gods were with him, so he ended up with a nice win."
Both Minikus and Sweetnam plan on competing in Saturday night's $127,000 Hollow Creek Farms Grand Prix CSI3*.
"I think tomorrow night will be a good class, and we will see if Quality Girl has her jumping shoes on for tomorrow," Minikus concluded.
Sweetnam will show $34,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic sixth place-finisher, Chaqui Z during the CSI3* event, and looks forward to the points earned towards the Longines Rider Ranking List.
The jumper action at the Kentucky Spring Classic will continue tomorrow with one of the highlight events, the $127,000 Hollow Creek Farms Grand Prix CSI3*, with the $50,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix CSI3* closing out the show on Sunday afternoon.
Source: Press release from Phelps Media Group
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