SAUGERTIES, NY (June 17, 2011) — The HITS-on-the-Hudson show grounds in Saugerties, New York were bustling for three weeks straight as entries poured in, barns were at capacity and the weather cooperated for a successful spring show series – a momentum that should transition to HITS Culpeper at Commonwealth Park in Culpeper, Virginia July 6-17.
Grand Prix classes welcome Olympic medalists
Olympic riders proved why they have medals in their trophy cases, winning four out of the six Grand Prix classes offered during the three weeks of competition. McLain Ward of Brewster, New York rode to victory three times in the Strongid C 2X Grand Prix Stadium, capturing Grand Prix purses of $25,000, $50,000 and $75,000. Margie Engle of West Palm Beach, Florida, lauded as the winningest female rider in the world, started her time in Saugerties off on the right foot by winning the $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome. She went on to win the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, during week II.
Joining the ranks of Ward and Engle was Danielle Torano of Southwest Ranches, Florida, who kicked off the spring Grand Prix circuit with a win in the first $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, during week I. Also making his mark on the high-performance world was Hector Florentino of the Dominican Republic, who made his HITS Saugerties debut in style with a win in the $100,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, during the final hours of competition in week III.
Four riders used HITS-on-the-Hudson as a means to break into the top 40 of the Pfizer Million Eligible Rider Rankings. Adam Cramer of Pittstown, New Jersey; Kate Levy of Wellington, Florida; Isabelle LaPierre of Breakeyville, Quebec, Canada; and Germaine Edelmann of Rexford, New York all made their way up the rankings as they eagerly competed for a spot in the coveted Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix this September in Saugerties, New York.
Over the course of the next two and a half months, HITS will host 13 more Pfizer Million Grand Prix Qualifiers, which includes four more opportunities in Culpeper and eight more chances in Saugerties. In addition, a $30,000 Wild Card Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, in Saugerties on Friday, September 9 will grant the winner, if not already eligible, a spot in the Pfizer Million on Sunday, September 11.
Devoucoux Hunter Prix draws talented crowd
The $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix, a qualifier for the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, drew talented hunter riders in big numbers this spring. Ellen Toon of South Salem, New York, coming off a winning season at HITS Ocala, finished with the blue during week I. The following week, Jenny Fischer of Montgomery, New York, captured the win over 70 first-round riders. Heritage Farm’s Patricia Griffith of Katonah, New York rode to victory in the final qualifier during week III.
Toon’s success in Saugerties helped to push her to the top of the preliminary Diamond Mills Rider Rankings, with four of the five Devoucoux classes needed to become eligible, and 334 points on her leading mount. Qualifying opportunities for the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final will continue throughout the summer, providing competitors with eight more Devoucoux Hunter Prix classes to secure their spot in the Final. Riders will have four more chances to qualify in Culpeper this July and August, and another three chances when the summer series returns to Saugerties for three weeks starting July 20. The final qualifier and Wild Card class will be held in Saugerties on Saturday, September 3.
Marshall & Sterling League gears up for summer shows
Marshall & Sterling League classes continue to play host to child and adult riders with their eye on the National Finals in September. During week III of HITS-on-the-Hudson, Allison Toffolon of Bronxville, New York won the $3,500 Marshall & Sterling Junior/Amateur Jumper Low Classic on the heels of the week II victory by Colleen Lewis of West Chester, Pennsylvania and Michael Hughes of Allendale, New Jersey during week I.
Ward leads Catena Grand Prix Rider Rankings
In the wake of his three Grand Prix victories, Ward on his own Oh D’ Eole leads the way in the Catena Leading Grand Prix Rider Rankings with 40 points. Darragh Kerins of Wellington, Florida aboard Miranda Fischer’s Hot Wheels sits in second place with 25 points after two second-place finishes in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix and the $75,000 HITS Grand Prix, both presented by Pfizer Animal Health, during week II. Just one point shy of Kerins, in third place with 24 points, is Todd Minikus of Loxahatchee, Florida aboard his own Pavarotti. The pair placed second behind Florentino in week III’s $100,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.
Purina Mills gives away “a ton”
HITS sponsor, Purina Mills hosted the final weekend of showing and sponsored two days full of family-friendly fun. Ann Chapman of Wellington, Florida was the proud winner of the Purina Mills raffle and recipient of a supply of free Purina Mills feed during Saturday’s exhibitor party. Purina Mills Kids Day welcomed a crowd of local families to the show grounds on Sunday for events including pony rides, face painting, a horseless horse show, presented by Beval Saddlery, and the $100,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. Florentino’s victory in the Grand Prix not only won him $30,000 in prize money, but a ton of Purina Mills feed as part of a “win a ton” rider incentive program sponsored by Purina Mills, the official feed of HITS Horse Shows.
Pfizer Million Weekend fever spikes
With summer shows around the corner, both Grand Prix and Hunter riders are setting their sights on qualifying for the Pfizer Million and Diamond Mills Hunter Prix. The HITS-on-the-Hudson spring series welcomed 56 new High-Performance riders looking for their first Pfizer Million Grand Prix qualifier, while 87 new hunter riders set out on their journey to earn points and Devoucoux qualifying classes, proving the race is on for the two September 11 events.
Top Dogs show off at HITS-on-the-Hudson
Aside from featuring horses, HITS honored other four-legged friends during week III at HITS-on-the-Hudson. The Exclusive Top Dog Competition divided awards between the hardest-working dog, Pebbles, and the best looking, Chrys.
Pebbles is a Havanese and is owned by Camille Duvall-Hero of New York, New York and Chrys is a Jack Russell Terrier owned by Mary Chapot of Neshanic Station, New Jersey.
Melvin Amaya receives Odor-No-More Grooms Award
The Odor-No-More Grooms Award was presented at HITS-on-the-Hudson III to Melvin Amaya, a groom for Equi-Sport, LLC in Pittstown, New Jersey, under the direction of trainer Adam Cramer. Amaya was voted to the top by his peers throughout the three weeks of the spring shows.
“[Melvin] puts in many hours of detailed care for our horses, with compassion for the animals and our clients,” said Cramer. “He truly is the backbone of our horses’ success and I would not be where I am today without him.”
Other Odor-No-More Grooms Award nominees included:
Jairo Padillo from Paragon Farm in Jackson, New Jersey
Jen Mondazzi from Oliynyk Show Stables in Plainville, Massachusetts
Brothers Peter and Paul Mayne Jr. from La Luna Farm in New Paltz, New York
Steve Aguilar and Abraham Coronado from Autumn Farms in North Salem, New York
Abigail Stark from Aventine Hill in Bedminster, New Jersey
The Odor-No-More Grooms Award will be presented again at HITS-on-the-Hudson VI. Entry forms and voting will be available in the show office.
Arenus Performance and Conditioning Award honors
Based on the performance, overall health and coat-appearance of his horses during the HITS-on-the-Hudson spring season, high-performance rider Richard Moloney of Wellington, Florida won the Arenus Performance and Conditioning Award. With the honor, he also won a supply of award-winning equine health products on behalf of Arenus.
For a complete list of results from the HITS Saugerties spring series, including weekly champions, please visit http://www.hitsshows.com/results/resultssummer_11.html.
Show jumping at HITS-on-the-Hudson takes a short break and resumes on Wednesday, July 20 for three consecutive weeks of competition, which will include the highly-anticipated return of the USEF National Junior Hunter Championships, August 1-3. Entries for the HITS-on-the-Hudson summer series will close next week with a postmark date of July 22. The HITS Saugerties prize list is available online and entry blanks for the series can be downloaded and printed directly from the website HitsShows.com.