The American Gold Cup welcomed 80 athletes to the Grand Prix Field on Thursday to compete and honor legendary horseman Donald V. Little in the $35,000 Don Little Memorial Welcome Stake CSI4*. In the end, it was Peter Wylde (USA) who sped to the top over the large field of international horses and athletes aboard Kathleen Kamine's Paloma.
"This horse is really coming into her own," said Wylde of the 10-year-old Holsteiner mare. "She was second in the opening class at the Hampton Classic two weeks ago. She's incredibly fast. She and I have been working together for almost a year now and it's really starting to come together. Consistently, show after show, she's getting a great result. I am excited for her because I think she has a lot in her, more than just the opening class. I think she can do the grand prix eventually. She's a fighter, a trier and very hot, but she wants to be good so it's nice - when a mare comes on your side. She did everything today."
Out of the original 80 starters, only 22 horse and athlete combinations completed the Alan Wade-designed course with no faults. Speed was surely the theme for Thursday's main event as the top four finishers were separated by only tenths of a second.
"Alan Wade is one of my all-time favorite course builders," said Wylde. "We had him at Silver Oak four weeks ago, at the Hampton Classic two weeks ago and now here at the Gold Cup. I haven't competed in one class of his yet where I haven't loved the course. That says a lot. It's hard to hit it every time. He does a great job. He has a great feel and a great understanding; I like his philosophy about building. I give him two thumbs up!"
Richie Moloney (IRL) and Equinimity LLC's Ypaja Yando were the early leaders of the one-round speed class as 15th in the order. They crossed the finish line with a clear round in 61.450 seconds.
"Around the turns I was quick," said Moloney. "The last two lines I left a stride out in each. Ypaja Yando likes to go forward. He enjoys when you let him go. The class suited him and it's great to be back at the American Gold Cup. It's nice to have a good start like this. I'm looking forward to the rest of the week with my other horse, Carrabis Z. He was very good at the Hamptons. This is a new week so hopefully he's good here again this week."
Thirty-two rounds later, fellow Irishman Shane Sweetnam and Main Road, owned by Seabrook LLC and Sweet Oak Farm, attempted to catch Moloney's time but fell short by 4/10ths of a second in 61.880 seconds. McLain Ward (USA) and his own Malou also laid down a fast and clear round nine trips later, breaking the beam in 61.930 seconds and positioning himself behind Sweetnam in the standings.
Wylde and Paloma were the 67th horse and athlete to enter the Grand Prix Field during the $35,000 Don Little Memorial Welcome Stake CSI4*. They outpaced Moloney by 4/10ths of a second in 61.050 seconds, which would prove to be unbeatable for the remainder of the class.
"When I jumped fences one and two I knew we had this," said Wylde. "I knew it because she felt so good. She's very fast. Naturally, she's like a Thoroughbred. She's lightning fast. You know when she's in the right frame of mind. You know when she is jumping great that it's going to be OK. Everything came right out of stride. It was a really fun round to ride.
"I had seen Shane, who at the moment was in second," continued Wylde. "I saw Shane and I was like, 'Oh wow, if you want to win this you really have to go.' I also saw McLain, who was in third at that point, and he was really fast and leaving strides out. I must say, both McLain and Shane left strides out in multiple lines. With Paloma, I only left a stride out to the last fence. She turns so well and she is so fast. Even doing the normal numbers she's just fast. To the last jump - that was just lightning! We made up two seconds there."
The 2016 American Gold Cup was honored to once again feature the $35,000 Don Little Memorial Welcome Stake CSI4* at Old Salem Farm in memory of the legendary horseman from Boston. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Little resided most of his adult life in Ipswich, Massachusetts. An avid pilot, he served in the U.S. Air Force and was the youngest aircraft commander in the Strategic Air Command. Professionally, he was a highly successful broker and investment manager at UBS and its predecessor companies, Paine Webber and Kidder Peabody.
Little pioneered the syndicated racehorse business in the early 1980s. He was founder and chairman of Centennial Farms, which ran winners of many Thoroughbred stakes races. Centennial Farms' Colonial Affair won the Belmont Stakes in 1993 with Julie Krone aboard, the first female jockey ever to win the race. In 2014, Centennial Farms' Wicked Strong finished fourth in both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes.
An accomplished show jumper, fox hunter and polo player, Little died in 2012 after a fall in the Masters Classic at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida. Those who knew him said he died doing what he loved - successfully competing in show jumping well into his 70s. The Donald V. Little Memorial continues to support and promote his dedication to and passion for the sport.
"Don was really a great icon for the Commonwealth [of Massachusetts] and New England horsemen," said show jumping athlete and longtime friend of Little, Charlie Jacobs. "He was Master of the Hounds at Myopia for as long as I knew him, but he was also a really active competitor. He really loved everything involved with the horses and horse life. He was a pleasure to be around.
"I think it speaks volumes about his legacy and the imprint he left on the sport," continued Jacobs. "Whenever I get a call asking to support an event in Don's honor I always raise my hand and say of course. Don was such a gentleman - such a horseman. It's a privilege to be able to support a class like this."
Source: Press release from Phelps Media Group, Inc. // Picture © The Book LLC
This photo has been added to your cart !Your shopping cart »