SAUGERTIES, NEW YORK (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.”