While Friday's $30,000 Zoetis Wild Card Grand Prix didn't deliver a true wild card entry for the Zoetis Million, it did give Darragh Kenny of Wellington, Florida some momentum heading into Sunday's coveted event. Kenny piloted Quiz, owned by Spruce Meadows, to the top spot over a field of 37 as excitement continues to build leading up to HITS Championship Weekend in Saugerties, New York.
After only a month together, Kenny and Quiz recently moved up to the grand prix level after success in 1.30m competition. "He has gained a lot of experience in Saugerties and was good in the grand prix at the Hampton Classic last week, but was super today," said Darragh. "Today's course was perfect – tough enough, but not too tough leading up to Sunday."
Olaf Petersen, Jr. of Meunchen, Germany set Friday's course and will also build for the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix this weekend. His Wild Card course included 13 obstacles and 16 jumping efforts, boasting two double combinations – one at the fifth fence of the track and another in the last line.
Under the gorgeous blue skies of the Hudson Valley, ten conquered the first round to move on to the jump-off. It was crowd favorite McLain Ward of Brewster, New York who set the Great American Time to Beat at 40.59 seconds with the first clear round in the second trip of the jump-off. Kenny was soon to answer, however, piloting Quiz to a clear round just shades faster in 40.04 seconds.
Out of the ten who advanced, Ward and Kenny were the only two who posted double clear efforts. Behind them, John Pearce of Bermuda Dunes, California rode Forest View Farm's Johnny B Good to third. Pearce has been in the grand prix money three times since arriving on the East Coast for the Zoetis Million. He won the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix aboard Son of a Gun last Friday and tuned Chianto up for his fourth-ever $1 Million Grand Prix appearance with a win on Sunday in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix. Quite possibly the West Coast favorite, Pearce is hopeful but practical about Sunday's Zoetis Million. "You can predict odds in this sport, but can never predict a winner," he said.
Margie Engle of Wellington, Florida rode to fourth place in the irons of Indigo, owned by Garber, Griese, Hidden Creek & Gladewinds. The pair had a rail down at the second to last fence in the jump-off and posted a time of 42.00 seconds. Capping the top five, Laura Chapot of Neshanic Station, New Jersey rode Quointreau Un Prince, owned by herself and Ward, to a four-fault round in 46.08 seconds.
With Sunday's Zoetis Million quickly approaching, Kenny is putting his leg over a new mount and will ride Wistful, recently purchased from West Coast rider Ashlee Bond. "We have only jumped one class together, but Wistful jumped the Million in California and has the perfect amount of experience at that level," he said. "It's unbelievable how lucky we are to be able to ride on this footing for this kind of prize money against this level of competition in this country. It's really something special."
As all attention now turns to Sunday, custom jumps will soon arrive at HITS-on-the-Hudson to make their debut in the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix and, according to Ward, will be the biggest factor on Sunday. He admits that no one knows exactly what is coming from Petersen. Ward will pilot 2012 Pfizer Million winner Antares F on Sunday.
As the sun sets on regular competition at HITS-on-the-Hudson this weekend, riders, trainers, owners and spectators alike are gearing up for some of the most exciting show jumping in the country and the world this weekend. The Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix takes the stage Sunday at 2pm EST and is available via live webcasts at HRTV.com and iEquine.com.
Source: Press release from HITS, Inc.
This photo has been added to your cart !Your shopping cart »