The boys went first in today's $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix during Week 6 of the HITS Indio Desert Circuit. Between the three of them, Will Simpson, Richard Spooner and Ray Texel, they could not post a clear jump off round over Dave Ballard's course. Misti Cassar was the first of the two girls to jump off, and with a shout of triumph as Pasadena flew over the final oxer she posted a clean round in a time of 47.443.
Cassar definitely learned from the boys as she rode a more conservative track, and was more than 10 seconds slower than Will Simpson, who posted a blazing time of 36.174 aboard El Campeon's Ado Annie. However, time is not the only factor in the jump off!
Cassar's lead was short lived as Sarah Baldwin, the last rider in the jump-off, took to the course aboard Kijoy Forever. Baldwin was in the catbird's seat and used it to her advantage. She rode a tighter track than Cassar and left all the rails up, crossing the finish in a time of 42.067.
"Awesome," said Baldwin when asked to describe her horse's performance today. "I am so stoked. This is the reward for all of the hard work." Baldwin bought Kijoy Forever, a ten-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, last year and began showing him during the 2001 Circuit. "I feel like I really know him now and that we can be more competitive. At first I was just trying for clear rounds, but now I feel he is sharper and I can go for the winning ride." And Baldwin did just that, logging her first grand prix win aboard Kijoy Forever.
Cassar was very happy with Pasadena's performance. The scrappy little mare is the smallest in the grand prix field at a little over 15 hands high. However, her amazing jump belies her diminutive stature. "I am thrilled with her. If she jumps like this on Sunday...." mused Cassar, alluding to the $150,000 Ford Grand Prix of the Desert.
Richard Spooner will try for his fifth win, and a number of other riders also have their eyes on the big class, which also serves as the final West Coast League World Cup qualifier. The class starts at 2:00 on Sunday and will feature top horses and riders from throughout the West Coast, Mexico and Canada.
For Agate Records:
Place/ Horse/ Rider/ Owner/ Faults - Time/ Prize Money
1st Kijoy Forever/Sarah
Baldwin/ Brookwood Stables/ 0/0 42.067/ $7,500