After two in-the-money finishes last week at HITS Saugerties, Todd Minikus and Quality Girl kicked off Week II grand prix action by topping a ten-horse jump-off in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis.
Minikus won the Week I $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome at HITS Saugerties and picked up sixth and eighth-place ribbons in last week's grand prix classes, but his spring circuit reached its pinnacle on Friday when he cashed a $7,500 check.
"She has really matured a lot over the winter," said Minikus of Quality Girl, a ten-year-old Oldenburg mare by Quidam's Rubin x Dobrock. He admits that she started off very green with little hope of making it to the grand prix ring. Her doubters were proved wrong, however, and the young mare has collected her share of successes in recent months. "She has been performing fantastic and between Purina, Vita Flex and Charles Owen, she has what she needs to keep us in the winner's circle."
Martin Otto of Muenster, Germany set Friday's course, which included 12 obstacle and 16 jumping efforts with a double and triple combination. Faults were spread throughout the track, but ten riders, of an original 28, were clean to advance to the short course.
Margie Engle of Wellington, Florida piloted two mounts and returned first in the jump-off with Elm Rock, LLC's Cabras. She and the nine riders behind her faced a seven-obstacle course, which include the 5ab double combination from the original course. True to form, the pair was clean and set the Great American Time To Beat at 41.29 seconds.
Three trips later, Minikus entered with Quality Girl and it was clear they had one goal – speed. They turned and burned to a clear ride in 34.78 seconds. Their time stood unscathed for the remaining five rounds and was nearly five seconds ahead of second place at the conclusion of the class.
"She is such a sweet mare, but extremely aware of everything going on around her," Minikus said of Quality Girl. "She has a lot of blood and she was fantastic today – we have some good things ahead of us I think."
Engle was double clear on both of her rides and picked up second place with Elm Rock, LLC's Celena Z. Their time on the short course was 39.35 seconds. She and Cabras ended in fourth.
Third place went to James North of New York, New York on Fair Play Farm's The Man To See. North and The Man To See rode in the middle of the jump-off order and posted 40.72 seconds on the clock. Heather Caristo-Williams of Saugerties, New York finished in fifth aboard Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Carsito's Evening Star. They rode to a final time of 41.90 seconds. The five remaining riders in the jump-off had rails and all ended with four faults.
$10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome
Henrik Gundersen and his own Ahaveros won Wednesday's $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome to get Week II at HITS Saugerties underway. Gundersen of Wellington, Florida and his eight-year-old bay gelding topped 33 contenders over the 1.40m course.
Mattias Tromp of North Salem, New York picked up second aboard Beyaert Farm, Inc.'s Zalicia and Michael Dorman of Wellington, Florida was third with Valinski S, who he owns with Wyndmont, Inc. Michael Desiderio of Chester, New Jersey rode to fourth on Tranquillity Farm's High Eight, and Peter Wylde of Lake Worth, Florida capped the top five in the irons of Societe Civile de L'Ecurie Meautry's Ak's Clowney.
Source: Press release from HITS, Inc.
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