Saugerties, NY (May 28, 2011) — The road to the 2011 Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix made its highly-anticipated return to HITS-on-the-Hudson on Friday with the first of 14 Grand Prix Qualifiers that will take place in Saugerties this show season. Danielle Torano of SW Ranches, Florida captured the win in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, aboard her own Katina to kick off what promises to be a fantastic weekend of show jumping at HITS Saugerties.
A night of wild thunderstorms rolled through the Hudson Valley on late Thursday night and paved the way for a beautiful day of warm weather on Friday, which set the stage for a perfect afternoon of show jumping in the beautiful Strongid C 2X Stadium. The course for the class was set by Jose “Pepe” Gamarra of Ellenton, Florida. Two-time Olympic Medalist Leslie Burr Howard of Darien, Connecticut was the first rider of the class to go clear aboard The Utah Group’s Utah. Andrew Bourns of Wellington, Florida soon joined Burr-Howard in the jump-off with a clear ride of his own aboard Gowran Park. By the end of the first round nine riders advanced to the jump-off, including Torano and her relatively new horse Katina.
“The triple combination was by far the most difficult,” explained Torano of the first round. “It was heading toward the in-gate and came at a slight bend, so you really needed to focus and get your horse to focus. But Katina is the sort of horse that really gives you her all and puts her heart into the ride.”
Burr-Howard was first to go in the jump-off and finished with three rails down. Bourns and his own mount Gowran Park went clear in 31.181 seconds to set the pace for the jump-off. Gemma Paternoster of Wellington, Florida followed with a clear round aboard her own Osiris but was two seconds slower than Bourns and eventually finished in fourth place.
Torano was the fifth rider to return for the jump-off and had to make a crucial decision as the clock raced. “When we were heading to the last fence, I wasn’t sure if we should move up but then I could hear Jimmy [Torano] and everyone yelling ‘GO!’, so I committed to that distance and it worked!”
Worked indeed, as Torano steered her way to the victory with a clear effort in a speedy 29.645 seconds to take the lead away from Bourns and set the Great American Time to Beat with four riders left to follow.
Up next was Kate Levy, also of Wellington, Florida, riding Lirving De Volsin, owned by Kate Levy LLC & Christian Woshenko. The pair gave Torano a run for their money with a clear round of their own, but their time of 30.728 seconds was a full second off the pace, so they had to settle for a second-place finish.
Rounding out the top five in the class was Jeffery Welles of Brewster, New York aboard Armani, owned by Abigail Wexner & Triton.
Torano and her husband Jimmy, who finished Friday's class in 12th place aboard his own Winner, each picked up their first of eight qualifying Grand Prix needed for this year’s Pfizer Million. “It’d be great to qualify for the Pfizer Million,” said Danielle Torano. “Jimmy plans on qualifying again this year, so we’ll have to see what happens. This is only my second Grand Prix ever on Katina and this was a great victory for us. She’s still new to me right now and we’re just starting to see what she can really do, so right now we’re just taking it one day at a time.”
Levy, who finished 12th in last year’s Pfizer Million aboard her own Vent Du Nord, plans to show at HITS Saugerties all season in order to qualify again for this year’s event.
On Sunday, all eyes will be on the second Pfizer Million qualifier of the week when the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, highlights HITS-on-the-Hudson I.
$10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome
On Wednesday, the $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome kicked-off opening day at HITS-on-the-Hudson, as the beautiful weather set the stage for great show jumping. Laura Chapot of Neshanic Station, New Jersey and Mary Chapot’s Umberto emerged victorious on the field. Chris Nelson of Flower Mound, Texas placed second aboard Lazy Creek Ranch Holdings’ GPS Inside Out, while Geoff Case of Scarborough, New York placed third aboard Laura Connolly’s Sil.
$10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome
About SmartPak Equine
Founded in 1999, SmartPak Equine is the country’s largest online and catalog retailer serving the needs of the active and engaged horse owner. The patented SmartPak™ supplement feeding system has simplified the process of feeding horse supplements and medications, making it easier for thousands of riders to keep their horses healthier by ensuring their supplements are being fed correctly. SmartPak’s diverse and expansive product offering includes its own line of supplements, tack, and horse blankets as well as an extensive selection of leading brands of equine health, apparel, tack, and equipment. SmartPak is a six-time Inc. 500/5000 honoree and is the only equine company ever named to the Inc 500 list. SmartPak is backed by Waltham, Massachusetts-based North Bridge Growth Equity.
HITS, Inc. produces high-quality, international-level hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS has been producing shows since 1982 and is now a nationwide company with world-class circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York and Virginia. In 2010, HITS took the industry to new heights when it hosted the first-ever Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix. HITS will once again offer the most innovative weekend in show jumping history in 2011 when it hosts the second annual Pfizer Million and the inaugural Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, September 10-11, at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS, join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!
$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health
PLACING HORSE OWNER RIDER PRIZE MONEY RD 1FAULTS JOFAULTS JO TIME
1 Katina Danielle Torano Danielle Torano $7,500 0 0 29.645
2 Lirving De Volsin Kate Levy LLC & Christian Woshenko Kate Levy $5,500 0 0 30.728
3 Gowran Park Andrew Bourns Andrew Bourns $3,250 0 0 31.181
4 Osiris Gemma Paternoster Gemma Paternoster $2,000 0 0 33.451
5 Armani Abigail Wexner &Triton Jeffery Welles $1,500 0 4 30.944
6 La Rocco Jun. Tolleshunt Horse Farm Kirk Webby $1,250 0 4 33.241
7 Re Louis Jackie Piraquive Amy Momrow $1,000 0 4 33.919
8 Hot Wheels Miranda Fischer Miranda Fischer $750 0 8 45.242
9 Utah The Utah Group Leslie Burr-Howard $750 0 12 40.539
10 Merlin Noel Love Gross Jeffery Welles $500 4
11 Guitar Hero Helen Goddard Helen Goddard $500 4
12 Jimmy Torano Danielle & Jimmy Torano Jimmy Torano $500 4
Photos: Danielle Torano and Katina cruise to a victory in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York. © ESI Photography.
Tony Hitchcock and Lisa Engel of HITS present the awards to Danielle Torano and Katina after their exciting victory in Friday's $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York. © ESI Photography.
Laura Chapot and Umberto in Wednesday's $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome. © ESI Photography.