HITS Sets Jumper Triple Crown

By April 8, 2013
McLain Ward and Antares on course.

McLain Ward and Antares on course to victory at the HITS Pfizer $1 Million (ESI Photography)

HITS, Inc. has added a third $1 million grand prix to its 2014 roster. The Ocala $1 Million Grand Prix will be held March 23 to conclude the 10-week 2014 HITS Ocala Winter Circuit in Florida.

HITS inaugurated the U.S.’ first $1 million show jumping class in 2010 in Saugerties, NY (which in its second year became known as the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix when title sponsor Pfizer spun off its animal care unit), and this year had the first AIG Thermal $1 Million Grand Prix in California.

The Ocala $1 Million takes its place as part of a new HITS Triple Crown of Show Jumping. If one horse-and-rider combination wins all three HITS “Triple Crown Challenge” $1 million classes company president and CEO Tom Struzzieri says he will offer a “sizable rider bonus” modeled after those bestowed in Thoroughbred racing and three-day eventing’s Grand Slam.

“There is no better way to reward our customers than to continue offering big-money classes,” Struzzieri said in announcing the program, which will kick off in 2014 with the AIG Thermal $1 Million Grand Prix on Sunday, March 16 at HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal and continue one week later with the HITS Ocala $1 Million, culminating in September at HITS-on-the-Hudson and the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix in HITS’ hometown of Saugerties.

“I can’t imagine how electric Saugerties will be if someone has a chance for the Triple Crown going into Championship Weekend at HITS-on-the-Hudson,” Struzzieri said.

The addition of a $1 million grand prix in Ocala recognizes the importance of HITS’ Florida show, which is growing in size and popularity, and the company is also breaking ground at a new state-of-the-art jumping field, HITS Post Time Farm, to host its newest big-ticket event.

Texas-based rider Tracey Fenney, who has successfully competed on the Ocala circuit for a number of years, said the logistics of competing in grand prix on either coast just one week apart won’t be a deal-breaker. “There is a great chance that I compete in all three of them,” said Fenney, adding, “For HITS to offer three $1 million classes in one year is extraordinary.”

Indeed a contingent of Florida’s winter circuit riders, both from Ocala and Wellington, flew horses to Thermal this year to compete in the AIG $1 million, having lobbied for one of the few  coveted “president’s picks” where HITS at its discretion could invite riders that did not qualify through the usual points system.

Candice King and McLain Ward were two such riders. “These classes are very comparable to the Olympics – to jump a clear round is no easy task,” said Ward, who has two U.S. Olympic Gold medals and two Saugerties $1 Million wins to his credit and took part in the first AIG Thermal $1 Million. “As a country, we are only as good as our horses and riders and these classes are raising that bar.”

Riders can qualify for the each of the HITS $1 million grand prix based on money won on their leading horse at HITS events throughout the season.

Short URL: http://theequestriannews.com/?p=15112

Comments are closed

Photo Gallery

Copyright 2011 The Equestrian News