North Salem, NY - After a successful season in 2014, Andretti S had some time off, which resulted in a few setbacks, but Saturday he proved he is back in top form. Laura Kraut piloted the 10-year-old gelding to the quickest clear jump-off, setting a blistering pace to beat out Ireland's Paul O'Shea aboard Skara Glen's Machu Picchu and Colombia's Roberto Teran with Woklahoma in the $85,000 Fidelity® Investments Classic at the American Gold Cup.
Only 11 of the 48 entries were able to master Alan Wade's first round track on the Old Salem Farm Grand Prix Field, which featured a technical triple combination at the end of the course. Kraut set the initial pace to beat with her first mount Constable II, owned by Cherry Knoll Farm, crossing the finish line in a clear 39.73 seconds, but that would only hold up for sixth place as the slowest of the clears.
Molly Ashe-Cawley on Louisburg Farm's Balous Day Date and Mario Deslauriers on Karen Polle's Global van T Braunerthof were each able to clear the jump-off course in times of 39.57 seconds and 38.34 seconds to finish fifth and fourth, respectively. O'Shea was the first rider to break the 37 second mark, laying on the gas with Skara Glen's Machu Picchu and cruising to a faultless time of 36.58 seconds to take the initial lead.
Kraut was warming up on Andretti, owned by Star and Stripes, and did not get to see O'Shea's round, but when she heard his time she knew she would need to go as fast as possible. Luckily, Andretti S was up to the challenge, dashing over each obstacle to break the beam at 35.22 seconds, taking over the lead and relegating O'Shea to second. The only other rider to cross the timers in less than 37 seconds was Teran with Woklahma, but they would settle for third in a clear 36.72 seconds, while Kraut led the lap of honor.
"I didn't see Paul's round at all; I only heard his time, which was really, really fast compared to my time on my first horse," admitted Kraut. "I was always going to go in and go as fast as I could. I thought I had an uncomfortably fast gallop to the second jump. All the turns worked, and it was his day."
Andretti S was very successful last fall, which led Kraut to give the talented chestnut gelding two months off, but when it was time for his return there were a few snags in the road. "He had a breathing issue, partial paralysis of his larynx, that had to get operated on," explained Kraut. "That took a month and a half, then he had a bruised heel that took a while to resolve. Finally, in July, he started to get back with some form of consistency."
Kraut is thrilled to have Andretti S back on form and believes he is a crucial addition to her string. "The horse can jump anything; he's got all the scope," she noted. "He's a little bit of a quirky horse, so it's taking him longer. He missed half he year, so I'm playing catch-up with him. Right now he feels like he did when he finished last year, so if he keeps developing like this, I think he can jump anything."