Lexington, KY - The $25,000 Under 25 Grand Prix saw a start list of 33 horse and rider combinations gather at the Rolex Stadium for the pilot event on the final day of the Kentucky Spring Horse Show. It was Luifer Larrazabal of Venezuela who dashed for the cash Sunday afternoon, winning the majority of the purse with recent mount, Atlodetto FZ.
The 22-year-old consistently showed throughout the Wellington and Ocala circuits, even riding for his country's team during the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ CSIO4* in at HITS Ocala. The young talent has been working to build a partnership with new mount, Atlodetto FZ, owned by San Francisco Stables LLC of Wellington, FL. The 8-year-old gelding showcased his impressive skills over Richard Jeffery's track, becoming the final of only six pairs to qualify for the speed round.
"He's very small actually, he was gelded very late, so he's kind of like a stallion," Larrazabal said of his winning mount. "He's very sensitive, but he's lazy, he doesn't put out much effort when he jumps. He is a small horse, and he jumps little as well. When he goes in the ring, he tries to do the job very carefully, and he's very quick. This is the best thing I've done with him since I got him in December, we have been working on building a relationship and improving."
Wilton Porter was the first to return for the jump-off. Aboard Patriot, owned by Sleepy P Ranch of Bartonville, TX, he navigated the course to finish with the first of four double clears in 35.168 seconds. He continued to lead the way with Sophie Simpson and Why Not falling just behind his time with a clear effort in 35.353 seconds, and Kelli Cruciotti and Chamonix H tripping the timers in 36.523 seconds.
Larrazabal was the last in the ring, and he knew that he had to take some risks on the track in order to catch Porter's pace. It was a little over one second that would separate the two in the end, and it was only one turn that made the difference.
"Today I didn't how it was going to be, because this horse is kind of new for me," Larrazabal explained. "The first round, I didn't know what to expect in the ring, but he was super. In the jump-off there were only six, and I was last to go. I didn't know I was going to go clear, but I knew I had to try a risk and try to win. I was lucky today."
Larrazabal said, "I was a little bit risky to the last jump, it was a very tight turn, but that's where I made up the time. A little bit risky, but I mean, he was super. He was jumping great; he felt so much better today, and I think he improved a lot, so maybe next week I will try to do the Grand Prix."
Today marked Larrazabal's first Under 25 Grand Prix, yet the series is not on his radar for the future. Although he thinks that the series is beneficial for up and coming riders, his aims are set on the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, this summer. The Kentucky Spring Horse Shows are Larrazabal's first stop in preparation for the Pan Ams, with Spruce Meadows next on his tour.
"I love Kentucky, and even more after you come from the Winter Equestrian Festival, after all those intense 12 weeks that you never stop, you know, over there it's a little busy. Here it's quieter; I only have four horses here, by myself, so here you can relax. It's very nice; there are fields where you can flat the horses, and they don't think that they are at a show. It keeps them fresh, and they feel like they're at home resting."
$25,000 Bluegrass Classic
International Grand Prix rider Todd Minikus knows quality, and three years ago he recognized it in the 12-year-old mare, Quality Girl. Since their partnership began, they have risen to the top of the ranks, capturing the win during the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Saugerties, NY, and earning Horse of the Year last year.
The formidable rider took Quality Girl, owned by the Quality Group of Loxahatchee, FL, to the top of the leader board Sunday during the $25,000 Bluegrass Classic, besting a field of 37 contenders.
Only three would clear Jeffery's course and move into the jump-off, with Shane Sweetnam and Eregast Van't Kiezelhof, owned by Spy Coast Farm of E. Setauket, NY, finishing second with a time of 34.055 seconds, less than half of a second shy of Minikus' speedy 33.609 seconds. Third place was awarded to Roberto Teran and Farina, owned by Ark Partners LLC of Wellington, FL.
"To tell you the truth, I would have been jumping off the top of the building there if Quality Girl hadn't gone clear," Minikus laughed. "With that being said, she went beautiful out there. I kind of went medium knowing that Shane's horse is not a speedster, it's a power jumper. It worked out well."
"This will be my third year with her, so it is always nice to establish a partnership with a horse like that," Minikus acknowledged. "You really think of her as a veteran of the sport, but it is just her third year doing this sport at an upper level, so she just now is really coming into her own, even though she has had such great success. It's nice to have a horse like her, I know every move that is going to happen. She is comfortable-It is like putting on that old leather jacket, it is comfortable and just kind of feels right."
The $25,000 Bluegrass Classic helped Minikus earn valuable points for the USEF/Rolex Show Jumping Ranking List, where he currently sits in in the eighth position with horses Babalou 41 and Quality Girl listed in the ninth and 23rd positions, respectively.
The Kentucky Spring Classic will kick off next week with a CSI3* rating. The $34,000 Welcome Speed will be held on Wednesday, followed by the $34,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic on Thursday, as riders try to accumulate valuable points for the Hagyard Leading Rider Bonus. On Saturday, May 16, riders will compete under the lights in the Rolex Stadium during the $127,000 Hollow Creek Farm Grand Prix. All three of these FEI classes will count for the Longines Rider Ranking List. The $34,000 Hagyard Classic and the $127,000 Hollow Creek Grand Prix will also count for the USEF/Rolex Show Jumping Ranking List as will the $50,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix on Sunday, May 17th.
For more information about the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows, please visit http://www.kentuckyhorseshows.com/.
RESULTS: $25,000 U-25 GRAND PRIX
1 135 ATLODETTO FZ LUIFER LARRAZABAL 83.273 34.065
2 159 PATRIOT WILTON PORTER 83.899 35.168
3 1277WHY NOT SOPHIE SIMPSON 84.839 35.353
4 206 CHAMONIX H KELLI CRUCIOTTI 85.432 36.523
5 440 GOLDFINGER VD HESARAH BAGWORTH 79.878 4 40.720
6 630 ZEPHIRE HAYLEY BARNHILL 83.617 12 51.843
7 573 BOY IV EMANUEL ANDRADE 4 80.283
8 638 BAMIRO KADY ABRAHAMSON 4 81.077
9 984 ZULIEKA SHAWN CASADY 4 81.497
10 126 HARRIRI ABIGAIL MCARDLE 4 81.934
11 1337ETOILE VAN'T LAMALLIY MOYER 4 82.110
12 824 HITCHCOCK VD BROALISE OKEN 4 82.362
RESULTS: $25,000 BLUEGRASS CLASSIC
1 1293QUALITY GIRL TODD MINIKUS 78.860 33.609
2 937 EREGAST VAN'T KISHANE SWEETNAM 82.118 34.055
3 962 FARINA ROBERTO TERAN 80.401 EL
4 935 CYKLON 1083 SHANE SWEETNAM 1 83.953
5 975 CASPER SHARN WORDLEY 1 83.965
6 121 COSMA 20 ABIGAIL MCARDLE 4 75.898
7 136 G AND C CLOSE UPLUIFER LARRAZABAL 4 78.314
8 489 FLAMINGO-K RICHIE MOLONEY 4 78.807
9 783 LIVERPOOL MARK BLUMAN 4 79.440
10 149 DIAMONTE DARCO WILTON PORTER 4 79.837
11 851 WHITNEY RAMIRO QUINTANA 4 80.118
12 202 ARENA DU PACHIS ALEJANDRO KAROLYI 4 81.341
KENTUCKY HORSE SHOWS 2015 HORSE SHOW SERIES FAST FACTS
Events: 2015 Kentucky Spring Horse Shows
What: The Kentucky Horse Shows 2015 series includes two weeks of top hunter/jumper competitions during the month of May. The Kentucky Horse Show Series is the host of the Hagyard Challenge Series and Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby Series.
Where: Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, KY, site of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™. Home to the United States Equestrian Federation.
KENTUCKY SPRING HORSE SHOW - May 6-10, 2015
$34,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic CSI2*
$85,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix CSI2*
$25,000 Bluegrass Classic
$25,000 U25 Classic
$15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby
$5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby
WCHR Recognized Hunter Competition
KENTUCKY SPRING CLASSIC - May 13-17, 2015
$34,000 Welcome Speed CSI3*
$34,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic CSI3*
$127,000 Hollow Creek Farm Grand Prix CSI3*
$50,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix
$20,000 Bluegrass Classic
$5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby
Sponsors: A special thanks to the generous sponsors of the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows: Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, Hallway Feeds, Hollow Creek Farm, Audi of Lexington, Sleepy P Ranch, CWD, Farm Vet, Dietrich Insurance, Brooke USA, Take2 Thoroughbred Program and the Official Hotel The Clarion
Hours: 8am - 5pm daily
Parking: Horse Show Exhibitors may purchase a weekly parking pass at the main Horse Park entrance for $15.00. Dogs are permitted at the Kentucky Horse Park on a leash.
Directions: The Kentucky Horse Park is located 8 miles northeast of Lexington, Kentucky at Exit 120 on Interstate 75.