Ocala, FL - February 17, 2012 - Andres Rodriguez and Caballito, owned by ARAO Enterprises LLC, won the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health on Thursday at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala to kick off a weekend of action-packed show jumping. High-Performance riders were out in full force yesterday as International Course Designer Martin Otto of Munster, Germany made his debut designing courses in the Grand Prix field at HITS Ocala.
Rodriguez, originally of Venezuela and now residing in Wellington, Florida, was one of 16 to make it to the jump-off from the original 39 horse-and-rider combinations. “The course was friendly,” he said. “Everyone wants to see a jump off with people going as fast as they can and I’m glad there was a jump off that the crowd could get into, because that’s what makes this sport exciting”.
Third to go in the first round, Daniel Damen of Ocala, Florida and Fox Meadow Farm’s Cosmo started off the chain reaction of clear rounds. At the end of the first round, Harold Chopping of Southern Pines, North Carolina and Little Glen’s Valentino, owned by Penelope Straight and Jenna Hoy; Tracy Fenney of Flower Mound, Texas and MTM Farm’s MTM Timon; Isabelle LaPierre of Breakeyville, Quebec and La Chaudiere Farm’s Vicki Vale; Sharn Wordley of Ocala, Florida and his own Corino; Aaron Vale of Morriston, Florida and Wodka L., owned by Thinkslikeahorse; Denise Wilson of Dousman, Wisconsin and Witchfire, owned by Blue Gate Farm, LLC; Brandie Holloway of Topeka, Kansas and Any Given Sunday, owned by Hays Investment Corp.; Damen aboard his second mount All Star, owned by Chuck and Dana Waters; Hector Florentino of Wellington, Florida aboard Stransky’s Mission’s Ultimo; Derek Petersen of Archer, Florida and his own Vio Dolorosa; Fenney aboard her second mount, MTM Farm’s MTM Centano; Alex Granato of Elizabeth, Colorado aboard Augustin Walch’s Calypso W; Bryn Sadler of Sante Fe, New Mexico and Bon Giorno, owned by Showcase 81, LLC; and Hugh Graham of Reddick, Florida aboard King Ridge Stables’ Distant Star 3E all returned for the jump-off.
In the jump-off, Damen and Cosmo quickly set the Great American Time to Beat at 35.48 seconds. They would be the first of five to go double clear out of the substantial jump-off roster.
Two trips later, Fenney and MTM Timon returned and quickly took the lead away from Damen in a blazing fast 31.44 seconds. So far, Fenney has had an impressive circuit capturing both the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, and the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, two weeks ago at the Ocala Premiere.
In Thursday’s feature class, Fenney’s time would hold up for only so long, as six trips later the lead went to Rodriguez when he and Caballito blazed through the track and crossed the timers in 31.41 seconds, just a hair faster than Fenney. “I saw her [Fenney] round and she was so fast,” said Rodriguez. “I knew I could get second, but I really wanted to win it! I watched Tracy go and [in regard to the final fence]—I knew there was not enough space to get straight to that last jump, so I just did the turn and hit the distance. Sometimes you need a little luck.”
With seven more trips left in the jump-off the crowd eagerly waited to see if any of the remaining challengers would top the new pace set by Rodriguez.
A few failed attempts later, Petersen was the next rider to put up a clean round and it looked as though he was on pace to catch Rodriguez, but when he crossed the timers in 31.55 seconds the moan of the crowd told him that he didn’t quite have it.
Looking to take back the lead, Fenney entered the ring next on her second mount, MTM Centano and they had the pace beat, but at the second-to-last-fence they dropped a rail and finished with four jumping faults in 30.75 seconds. In the end, Fenney finished second aboard MTM Timon and sixth aboard MTM Centano, while Petersen held onto third place.
Out of the 16 pairs that advanced to the jump-off, LaPierre and Vicki Vale were the only others to go double clear. They finished fifth with a time of 36.74 seconds behind Damen and Cosmo.
Rodriguez and 10 year-old Caballito are now officially on the road to the Pfizer Million. “I hope to qualify for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix with him and will be sure to be back for Sunday’s Grand Prix, and the $100,000 [Sullivan GMC Truck] Grand Prix, [presented by Great American Insurance Group] week VII.”
High-Performance action continues this weekend at HITS Ocala with Sunday’s $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, which is one of nine more qualifiers for the Pfizer Million remaining on the schedule. To make an appearance in the famed event, riders will need to bank eight qualifying classes to become eligible, and then the top 40 riders, based on money won on their leading horse, will earn their spot in the line-up during HITS Championship Weekend, scheduled for September 9 at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.
$2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome
High-Performance action kicked-off on Wednesday with the $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome. Erin Haas of Ocala, Florida and North Face Farm’s As di Chupito captured the first place honors, as Aaron Vale and Honeylands Douglason, owned by Doug’s Crew and Silvio Mazzoni of Leesburg, Virginia and Remonta Habano finished in second and third place, respectively.
SmartPak Equine was founded in 1999 with the purpose of simplifying the administration of nutritional supplements and medications for horses. The SmartPak system has been embraced by riders from all disciplines and all levels, including many Olympic medalists. In addition to the SmartPak supplement system, they offer a broad line of horse health, show apparel, tack, dog supplies and equine and canine pharmacy items. For more information on SmartPak, please visit SmartPak.com.
$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health
Place Horse Owner Rider Prize $ Rd 1 Faults JO Faults JO Time
1 Caballito ARAO Enterprises, LLC Andres Rodriguez $7,500 0 0 31.41
2 MTM Timon MTM Farm Tracy Fenney $5,500 0 0 31.44
3 Via Dolorosa Derek Petersen Derek Petersen $3,250 0 0 31.55
4 Cosmo Fox Meadow Farm Daniel Damen $2,000 0 0 35.48
5 Vicki Vale La Chaudiere Farm Isabelle LaPierre $1,500 0 0 36.74
6 MTM Centano MTM Farm Tracy Fenney $1,250 0 4 30.75
7 Calypso W Augustin Walch Alex Granato $1,000 0 4 32.81
8 Distant Star 3E King Ridge Stables Hugh Graham $750 0 4 32.92
9 Ultimo Stransky's Mission Hector Florentino $750 0 4 33.08
10 Witchfire Blue Gate Farm LLC Denise Wilson $500 0 4 34.37
11 Little Glen's Valentino Penelope Strait & Jenna Hoy Harold Chopping $500 0 4 34.56
12 Corino Sharn Wordley Sharn Wordley $500 0 4 34.59
Photos: Andres Rodriguez and Caballito edged out Tracy Fenney by a split second to win Thursday's $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at HITS Ocala. ©ESI Photography
Caitlin Howley and Lisa Engel of HITS present the awards to Andres Rodriguez and Caballito after they finished first in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala. ©ESI Photography
Erin Haas of Ocala, Florida rides North Face Farm's As di Chupito to the blue in Wednesday's $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome at HITS Ocala. ©ESI Photography