Saturday, June 4, 2011

Jumping: Saugerties: McLain Ward captures second Grand Prix victory in a row at HITS Saugerties in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix

© ESI Photography.
McLain Ward and Domino cruised to victory in Friday's $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.
McLain Ward captures second Grand Prix victory in a row at HITS Saugerties in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health

SAUGERTIES, NEW YORK (June 4, 2011) — McLain Ward of Brewster, New York proved once again why he is considered one of the best riders in the world when he won his second Grand Prix in a row at HITS Saugerties. Just six days ago he captured the blue in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, aboard his own Oh’D Eole. This time around Ward, riding Blue Chip Bloodstock’s Domino, edged out 35 other starters to take home the top prize in Friday’s $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. Aside from being a coveted Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix qualifier, Friday’s class also benefited the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Canadian Danny Foster set the course which featured 16 efforts in the first round, including a triple combination mid-way through the route that proved troublesome for 16 of the entries in the class. “This was a difficult course and the wind was definitely a factor,” explained Ward, a decorated U.S. Olympian. “But I am excited about how well we did.”

The first clear ride of the afternoon came 11 trips into the class when Jonathan McCrea of East Windsor, Connecticut rode Candy Tribble & Windsor Show Stables, Inc.’s Colorado to a flawless first-round finish. The next two riders to show, Schuyler Riley of Wellington, Florida with South Beach Stables’ Lapacco, and Ward aboard Domino, also went clear, making it three for the jump-off with just about half of the class left to show.

When the first round was over, five riders advanced to the jump-off, including Ali Wolff of New Albany, Ohio with John Wolff and Blacklick Bend Farm’s Lanoo, and Darragh Kerins of Wellington, Florida aboard Miranda Fischer’s Hot Wheels. The jump-off proved to be an intense battle to the finish as each of the five riders went double-clear, making it truly a test of speed that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats right to the very end. McCrea and Colorado went first and set the Great American Time to Beat at 48.331 seconds.

Riley and Lapacco took over the lead next with a time of 46.455 seconds. Ward and Domino followed and shaved nearly two seconds off the pace with a time of 44.461 to take the lead away from Riley. “Despite the difficulty, we had a good, galloping jump-off,” said Ward. “[Domino] has a big stride and the jump-off suited him.”

Wolff and Lanoo posted a clear effort in 50.440 seconds, which earned them fifth place. Kerins and Hot Wheels had the last chance to catch Ward’s time and nearly captured the win, but came up a fraction of a second short with a time of 44.934, which was good enough to earn him the red ribbon.
© ESI Photography.
McLain Ward and Domino are joined in the winner's circle by Lisa Engel, Lindsay Yandon and Haley Hart of HITS, along with LLS volunteer Melissa Signor and her honored hero Ralph Finno and their three grandchildren.
“The combinations on this course were trouble,” said Kerins. “It’s been three years since I’ve shown [Hot Wheels] in a Grand Prix and Thursday was the first time I had ridden him in several months, but I am very happy with how he jumped. It was a speed jump-off and we went as fast as we could, but we couldn’t top McLain.”

Kerins and Hot Wheels will return on Sunday for the $75,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, when they will have another chance to go head-to-head with McLain and Domino, as High-Performance riders continue to flock to Saugerties in the hopes of qualifying for this year’s Pfizer Million.

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

For the second year in a row, HITS hosted a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Friday’s featured class helped to raise nearly $2,000 for the organization and their important work. Local LLS volunteer Melissa Signor was on hand to enlist support and personally thank the riders and donors who made such generous contributions. “Every little bit helps and I’m so grateful for the support of HITS and all the folks who donated to the cause today,” said Signor, who coordinated the event along with members of the HITS team.

Third-place finisher Schuyler Riley earned the most donations in her honor, followed by a tie for second place between Candice King, Callie Morgan Smith and Darragh Kenny. To learn more about the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society or to make a donation, please visit:

$10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome
© ESI Photography.
Jeffery Welles and Merlin took home the blue in Wednesday's $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome.

On Wednesday, Jeffery Welles dominated the $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome when he finished in first, third and fourth in the class. Welles claimed the blue aboard Noel Love Gross’ Merlin and finished third and fourth aboard Noel Love Gross’ Aries and Abigail Wexner’s Zycarla Z, respectively. Darragh Kenny of Wellington, Florida took second place aboard Obelix, owned by North Run and Missy Clark, while Todd Minikus finished in fifth place with Oakwood Stables’ Urame.

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

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