Saugerties, NY - The first of three consecutive weeks of show jumping at HITS Saugerties kicked off on Wednesday with a fresh group of potential contenders for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix.
Leading the list of High-Performance riders to make their way to the Hudson Valley are Todd Minikus, Jimmy Torano, Candice King and Margie Engle. "It’s exciting that HITS is putting up that kind of serious prize money," said Minikus. "This is the first legitimate Grand Prix with that kind of prize money that we have ever had in this country."
Minikus will be at HITS Saugerties for the entire three-week spring series and plans on competing in six Grand Prix classes as he gets closer to the eight needed to become eligible for the Pfizer Million. "We will be qualified by hook or by crook," added Minikus.
Also looking to join the Pfizer Million party is Torano. He has made the journey north to compete in all six Grand Prix classes throughout the spring series. "I plan to do the three weeks here and come back in July to make sure I have enough Grand Prix classes to qualify."
Torano also had lots of praise for the show grounds. "I think the facility looks great," said Torano. "The new island down the main roadway that separates the golf carts from the horses is magnificent. The footing is also in great shape."
Jumper riders got things started on Wednesday when the $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome took the stage. The popular welcome class enabled top riders to tune up for Friday’s $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health and Sunday’s $50,000 EMO Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. Both classes are crucial qualifiers for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix that will take place on Sunday, September 12.
Taking the blue in the $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome was Olympian Margie Engle riding Hidden Creek’s Lonesome Boy. Kate Levy was second riding her horse Starlight and Todd Minikus piloted his own Little Annie to the yellow ribbon.
"The class was a fabulous start to the week," said International Course Designer Olaf Petersen, Jr. "I am excited to be a part of the first week at HITS Saugerties. I have been coming here for a number of years and the facility just continues to get better and better, each year. Everything about the grounds this year is superb."
Show Jumping at HITS Saugerties continues all weekend and is highlighted by Friday’s $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, which will benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with a special fundraiser that will engage riders and spectators alike to raise money for the organization. Sunday’s $50,000 EMO Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, closes out the week.
$10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome
PLACING HORSE OWNER RIDER PRIZE MONEY
1 Hidden Creek's Lonesome Boy Hidden Creek Farm Margie Engle $3,000
2 Starlight Kate Levy, LLC Kate Levy $2,000
3 Little Annie Todd Minikus Ltd Todd Minikus $1,400
4 Accordian Peter Wetherill & Happy Hill Farm Robert Kraut $1,000
5 Re Louis Jackie Piraquive Amy Momrow $800
6 KT UnderCover Michael Kirby Michael Kirby $700
7 Select Lionshare Farm & Ger Poels Horses Peter Leone $600
8 Nielson B Jeanne Hobbs Jeanne Hobbs $500
Photo: Margie Engle and Hidden Creek's Lonesome Boy on course in Wednesday's $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York. ©ESI Photography.