SAUGERTIES, NEW YORK (June 16, 2008)--The $50,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix had a fitting ending when Purina Mills' most prolific poster boy, Todd Minikus, had the fastest double clear round aboard Presidente to capture the blue ribbon.
"I'm proud to be on the Purina Mills Team," said Minikus after Sunday's featured class. "I was glad I could win today with all of my supporters in Saugerties from Purina Mills."
Minikus collected $15,000 for Suzanne Porter and Texas' Sleepy P Ranch. According to Minikus, he has only been in the irons aboard this mount since late April. "Suzanne is on her way back to Texas, so she missed the class," said Minikus. "I know that she has already gotten a ton of phone calls congratulating her."
The seasoned veteran also grabbed the blue in Thursday's $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix aboard Ultimo Van Ter Moude. "That's two in a row for Todd," said Jimmy Torano. "He really deserved to win today. He was just tremendous in the jump-off."
Seven pairs advanced to course builder Doug Russell's jump-off track after he trimmed the original field of 32 starters. "It was the perfect recipe for a great class," said Tim Hooker. "He had just the right amount of clear rounds in the first round. That set up a great horse race in the jump-off. It was a perfect day and the crowd was hooting and hollering."
North Run's Hillary Dobbs was first to go in the jump-off aboard Corlett. The 20-year-old set the pace right off the bat establishing the Great American Time to Beat at 36.915. Dobbs and Corlett would eventually finish in fifth place.
Hooker and Sirius 127 were next in the order and had a rail down to finish in sixth place. Dobbs returned for her second trip of the jump-off aboard Morengo. She had a fall at fence 14 and finished in seventh place for The Dobbs Group. When the class was over, Dobbs collected a total $5,000 for The Dobbs Group.
Fourth to go in the jump-off were Margie Engle and her mount Hidden Creek's Pamina L. The pair went clean and set the new pace at 34.928 and finished in second. Engle, who has more than 175 career wins under her belt, also was ninth aboard Hidden Creek's Coroya Z.
Ramiro Quintana and Sydney were next to challenge Russell's jump-off course. The duo went clear and stopped the clocks in 35.509 to finish in fourth place.
Danielle Torano and Marlo were sixth to go. A clear round in 35.451 placed the pair in third place. "She jumped great today," said Danielle Torano. "I thought we lost some time between jumps one and two. We enjoyed a great couple of weeks here. Now we have a week off before we head to Lake Placid and will be back to Saugerties for a couple of weeks in the summer."
Minikus and Presidente were last to ride in the jump-off. A clear round is 34.583 was good enough to give Minikus his second Grand Prix triumph of the week. "I made a risky move to the last jump and made it in six strides when everyone else took it in seven," said Minikus. "I had to make up a few seconds, and it certainly paid off!"
"It was an awesome job by Purina Mills' top performer," said Hooker.
With the win, Minikus earned some valuable qualifying points for the $100,000 USGPL Invitational Grand Prix to be held during the USGPL Finals at Commonwealth Park, in late September. The top 30 riders in the Marshall & Sterling League National Standings (based on money won by the qualified horse/rider combination) will be invited to participate in the Invitational. In addition, one Wild Card slot will be allotted. The rider may elect to ride any horse of his or her choice, but may ride only one horse in the Invitational. All Grand Prix events at HITS Saugerties and HITS Culpeper are qualifying events for the Invitational. To view the current standings, please click here.
"I am looking forward to Culpeper," added Hooker. "If I qualify, I would love to go down there and jump for the big money in the $100,000 class."
HITS-on-the-Hudson III also featured several fun out-of-ring activities, including Friday evening's Canine Affair dog costume party, sponsored by Purina Mills where almost two dozen dogs dressed up in outrageous outfits. On Saturday, the streets in the village of Saugerties were closed to traffic for the HITS Saugerties Block Party that featured an outdoor concert by the band Powerhouse. Finally, on Sunday it was Purina Mills Kids Day that took the stage to wrap-up an action-packed weekend in the Hudson Valley.
HITS Saugerties now takes a short break before returning for three consecutive weeks of world-class show jumping, beginning on July 23 for HITS-on-the-Hudson IV.
HITS, Inc. is a special events management company primarily focused on producing hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS produced its first horse show circuit in Gainesville, Florida in 1982. Since that time, HITS has grown into a nationwide company with world-class hunter/jumper circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York and Virginia.
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit http://www.HitsShows.com
PHOTO: © Lili Weik Photography; Todd Minikus and Presidente clear a jump during the $50,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix at HITS Saugerties.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/minikus-hits-saugerties-06-08.html">Two for Todd! Minikus wins second Grand Prix of the week at HITS Saugerties</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com