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Erin Hass and As Di Chupito Win $10,000 American Invitational Stake at the Tournament of Champions

RELEASE: April 5, 2013
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Kendall Bierer for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

Erin Haas and As Di Chupito earn the victory during the $10,000 American Invitational Stake Welcome at the Tournament of Champions (Kendall Bierer/PMG)
Erin Haas and As Di Chupito earn the victory during the $10,000 American Invitational Stake Welcome at the Tournament of Champions (Kendall Bierer/PMG)
Tampa, FL
- It was a muddy morning as the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center welcomed numerous horses to the third day of the Tournament of Champions. The jumpers were able to dodge the effects of the inclement weather as they gathered in the Covered Arena to compete for the top prize at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Thursday saw great opposition as riders entered the ring to vie for the coveted American Invitational Welcome Stake Championship. It was Erin Haas and As Di Chupito who mastered the class, riding to the top of the standings.

Jose Gamarra, the course designer more affectionately referred to as "Pepe," designed the challenging courses for the American Invitational Welcome Stake. The course tested riders over 12 obstacles with 15 efforts including an oxer-vertical-vertical triple combination, skinny, a vertical-oxer combination and a liverpool. The jump-off proved to be even more of a challenge with only four riders mastering the shortened track for a double-clear effort.

The jump-off began over the first obstacle-an orange-and-white oxer and continued with a left turn through the tricky five-stride oxer-vertical line. From there the rider had to take a sharp right rollback over the eighth obstacle, a single vertical. Keeping a strong pace, the outside vertical-oxer double combination approached quickly, landing shortly after and moving forward with a left inside turn to an oxer in the middle of the ring and finishing with a right turn over a single vertical.

Jared Petersen was the first to attempt the shortened course, masterfully navigating the open track with ease aboard Titus 2:11, owned by Derek Petersen. He picked up a strong pace with the bay and guided him through the course with care. Unfortunately, the top rail of the third obstacle rolled out of the cup, and as he tripped the timer in 39.833 seconds, he sealed his fate with four faults.

Erin Haas followed Petersen into the jump-off, mimicking his efforts; however, managing to keep all rails in place. She piloted Admiral Clover to the clear track in 38.834 seconds. The crowd erupted with applause as she broke the beam, and she patted her horse with encouragement, knowing that riders would have a tough time trying to beat her this evening.

"Admiral Clover is new to me this year, he had done a lot of Grand Prix with Aaron Vale last year. He is really my type; at 12 years old he has the experience. He works out super for me because he knows his job. I don't have a lot of time to ride in between showing because I also work as a veterinarian. He was jumping really well today, and actually after the third fence in the first round, I felt him take a couple funny steps, both his shoes came off. He was a little short strided after, but he has so much heart and will that he kept going. I was a little bit cautious with him, but he was amazing out there-so much heart."

Aaron Vale had his eye on the prize when he took his turn at the course. He easily navigated the opening track, clearing each fence with room to spare aboard Spirit of Alena, owned by Campos & Miranda Investments. The pair took on the jump-off with speed, expertly shaving off seconds throughout the shortened course. He blazed across the finish line in 37.364 seconds to rise to the top of the ranks and give Haas the chance to challenge him with her second mount of the class.

"Spirit of Alena just kind of started in some Grand Prix. This week with the biggest classes being 1.40m that's kind of where he's really comfortable, and it showed since he won the other day and was second today," Vale said. "He had a super show. He jumped really well last week in the Grand Prix. He was unlucky not to be clear on Friday or Sunday, so with the jump's being a hair smaller it was super easy for him."

Vale elaborated, "He's a stallion, so he's kind of a big, powerful horse. It takes a little bit of physical strength to go around with him. He's honest. He wants to jump the jumps. He's naturally careful. Right now the main thing is just getting enough mileage on him without stressing him - jump a few Grand Prix, jump some easier classes, just kind of start to slowly introduce him to bigger jumps and all that so that he develops some confidence. Next year he'll be a 9-year-old so hopefully if I expose him to more rings, it'll be good for him."

Haas rose to the challenge, returning to the ring with As Di Chupito, owned by North Face Farm, and threw caution to the wind as she mimicked Vale's quick and tidy round. It was only by 3/100ths of a second, but Haas overtook Vale and rode to the blue ribbon win with her second double-clear effort of the evening in 37.039 seconds.

"As Di Chupito I have had for a couple years now. He is very spooky. I have done him in some Grand Prix, but he is still green. Indoors he definitely keeps me on my toes. I felt like he really jumped well today. I use his spookiness as a balance between leg and using the spook to jump big," Haas explained. "He felt really relaxed today, and honestly felt right on it. I figured if he's on it, then go for it. I have had 'four-faultitis' on him. I made sure to focus, and not let down at the last rail, especially since it was giving so many riders problems."

Beth Goodwin and Baldato rounded out the top four with the only other clear effort of the class. She picked up the reins on Baldato, riding the jump-off in a conservative fashion, crossing the finish line well within the time allowed in 41.762 seconds.

"Baldato is very strong in the ring, so you always have to be careful of holding him off of the front rail," Goodwin remarked. "My plan was to go clear and just to stick to the plan that we made when we walked the course-which was to make him stay calm and relaxed and not get too strong because he builds as the course goes on."

Goodwin continued, "I just had to keep him kind of calm and smooth. In the jump-off, I really just wanted to go double clean, because we haven't done many bigger classes together, so I just wanted to go double clean and give him a nice positive ride."

Petersen and Titus 2:11 were awarded the fifth place honors for their efforts in the jump-off, while Alexa Adelson and Padie Blu Cardu, owned by Starbit Partners LLC of Scarborough, NY, took the sixth place honors. Adelson had ridden a great short course; however, at the final fence of the jump-off a heartbreaking rail fell.

Haas explained, "I do not beat Aaron very often. I have been riding with Aaron a long time now, and we have a great relationship and understanding. It actually works really well for me that Aaron and I have similar riding style, we use out instinct on the course. I can't take too much instruction. It was fun to be able to compete against him and win, it definitely doesn't happen that often."

"It has been a great horse show, it is so nice after the long Florida circuit," Haas concluded. "It is nice to come to a more condensed show. It is more relaxing, and the management is great and friendly. I haven't been here in a long time, but I definitely plan on coming back, and hopefully I will be able to do the American Invitational next year."

This week's highlight event is the 2013 $200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational presented by G & C Farm, being held on Saturday, April 6, at Raymond James Stadium. The Tournament of Champions will continue through April 6 at the Florida State Fairgrounds, before coming to a close during the American Invitational beginning at 6:30 p.m. The top riders in the country will gather under the lights at Raymond James Stadium to compete for the crown jewel of show jumping.

RESULTS $10,000 AMERICAN INVITATIONAL STAKE
award entry horse owner rider

1 224 AS DI CHUPITO NORTH FACE FARM ERIN HAAS
2 274 SPIRIT OF ALENA CAMPOS & MIRANDA INVESTMENTS AARON VALE
3 223 ADMIRAL CLOVER NORTH FACE FARM ERIN HAAS
4 496 BALDATO BETH GOODWIN
5 181 TITUS 2:11 DEREK PETERSEN JARED PETERSEN
6 495 PADIE BLU CARDU STARBIT PARTNERS, LLC ALEXA ADELSON
7  568 URAGUAY LEGACY STABLES, LLC TODD MINIKUS
8 104 LANDINO GREG CROLICK GREG CROLICK
9 115 CHANEL MAISIE MCSWAIN MAISIE MCSWAIN
10 178 CORDOVO JORDAN COYNE JORDAN COYNE
11 478 ZIDOCTRO JENNA FRIEDMAN JENNA FRIEDMAN
12 569 RED LADY KELSEY BALEY AARON VALE

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