Todd Minikus and his own Quality Girl proved that speed is what they do best on Friday at HITS Saugerties. Minikus of Loxahatchee, Florida and his 10-year-old Oldenburg mare by Quidam's Rubin x Dobrock rode to the blue in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis, against a field of 24 horses. Going second in a six horse jump-off, they put the pedal to the proverbial metal to be the last pair standing with a full second to spare.
"It was just plain fast," said Minikus after the awards presentation. "I knew that there were some lightning-fast horses in the jump-off and I couldn't count a single one of them out. They all went after me, so my plan was to go as fast as I could. I took a couple of chances, and luckily, it worked out."
The course, set by Florencio Hernandez of Mexico City, Mexico, was "right on", according to Minikus. With 12 obstacles and 15 jumping efforts, Hernandez built a double combination at fence eight and a triple combination at fence 11 coming off a skinny vertical. "There was a mixed bag of horses out there today with some green horses, some older horses and some fresh partnerships, so considering the heat and the $25,000 purse, everything about the course was spot on," he added.
Minikus not only piloted a successful ride on Quality Girl, but also rode Karen Polle's UDonnay Z to a clear effort in the first round. They were joined by Laura Chapot, who was first to ride clear in the first round on Mary Chapot's Umberto, McLain Ward – no stranger to speed himself – aboard his own Wings, Adrienne Iverson on her own Sweetheart, Emily Short with her own Grand Finale 3E, and Christine McCrea with Candy Tribble & Windsor Show Stables' Avenir.
"Both my horses are fueled by Purina Animal Nutrition feeds and had more than enough energy and stamina to make it through to the jump-off," said Minikus, who is also sponsored by fellow HITS partners Charles Owen and Éce Equestrian Co.. "Quality girl is just a pure winner. She shows up for work every day and you can't help but give a lot of respect to a horse that does that."
Quality Girl was imported from Belgium at the beginning of the Florida circuits as a green jumper, but has matured and made significant progress since then, according to Minikus, who has big plans for the spirited mare. "She will definitely be my horse for the Zoetis Million in September," he concluded.
In the jump-off, Chapot of Neshanic Station, New Jersey and Umberto led off, but clipped a rail at the second fence of the course to finish with four faults in 39.73 seconds. Following her, Minikus and Quality Girl set the Great American Time to Beat at a blistering 36.71 seconds, which would go untouched for the rest of the class.
Ward of Brewster, New York and Wings were clear, but two seconds shy of the lead in a time in 38.68 seconds. Iverson of Califon, New Jersey with Sweetheart, as well as Short of Cheswick, Pennsylvania aboard Grand Finale 3E picked up four faults apiece and finished with times of 40.33 seconds and 43.51 seconds, respectively. McCrea of East Windsor, Connecticut was on her way to chasing Minikus down when she landed clear off the final fence. She, however, crossed the timers in 37.69 seconds, roughly a second off the lead. Knowing he already had the class won, Minikus had one more to ride and finished with an eight-fault round in 45.93 second aboard UDonnay Z.
McCrea finished in second, Ward in third and Chapot fourth. Iverson and Short were fifth and sixth, while Minikus was seventh.
Source: Press release from HITS Inc.
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