July 6, 2014--As Michael Dorman stood at the in-gate before the jump-off for the $40,000 Grand Prix of Traverse City, he came to a simple realization.
"I watched David Beisel, who was winning, go before me, so I knew there was no time to take chances," he said. "You had to go in and try to win or not. You weren't going to win otherwise. He was really fast, and once he left it all up, I knew I had to go all the way."
So, Dorman picked up a gallop and barely pulled on the reins as he cruised around the shortened course, stopping the clock .30 seconds faster than Beisel and Ammeretto. In the end, Dorman's time of 39.57 seconds was the best of the day.
"Well, the jump-off really was designed well for me because the place to make up time was off of two left turns," he noted. "And Zephyr has a tendency of cutting in left, but I used it for my benefit today. So, making those tight turns off the left is quite easy for him. Usually it can get me into trouble because he'll do it too soon, but it really helped me today."
Dorman, of Wellington, Florida, qualified two mounts for the tie-breaker and stepped in the ring aboard Valinski S as the final contender. With his victory already assured with Zephyr, Dorman galloped around clear again for the fourth-placed ribbon as well.
Beisel and Ammeretto, the victors in this week's $10,000 Positive Step Farm Welcome Prix, settled for second, with Liza Finsness and Shiver, the lead-off duo, placing third with a double-clear performance.
Like Valinski S, who won the 1.40m Speed Stake earlier in the week, Zephyr was imported through Peter Charles in England. Dorman has moved the 10-year-old Dutch Warmbood gelding (Landor S--Tobelia) up the levels after he was a top 7-year-old in Europe.
A field of 24 starters tackled Kenny Krome's 13-fence/16-effort course, with international veterans as well as juniors and amateurs taking the challenge in Traverse City, MI. Nine horse/rider combinations successfully cleared the fences within the time allowed to qualify for the second-round jump-off.
"The first-round course was challenging," he said. "The jumps came up quickly and the lines had different speeds, so you had to do different paces. It wasn't extra huge, but it was challenging and technical."
This is Dorman's first trip to Horse Shows by the Bay with trainer Ronnie Beard and their Wyndmont Farm, and it's been a very lucrative and successful debut.
"This is a great show, and I'm looking forward to next week," he said.
Over in the R.L. Polk Family Main Hunter Ring, Emma Wujek guided Copperfield to the blue in today's $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Walgreens. The featured hunter class drew 28 competitors.
Wujek, 12, of Grosse Point Farms, Michigan, said this was her second derby aboard Fox Meadow Farm and Lindsey Buhl's Copperfield, and their second win. They earned scores of 91 and 96 for the top call over professional Greg Crolick and Borencio, who scored 89 and 94 for second place.
He's just awesome. I thought it was really fun and it was a great course," she said. "I loved [the handy course], it was really fun, with nice turns and everything rode really well. Right when we walked in he pricked his ears and went straight to the first fence. He was a good boy."
Wujek thanked her trainers Meg Howard-Fuleky and Polly Howard for their help and support this week. Wujek and Copperfield also earned the Children's Hunter, 12 and under, championship and Wujek earned the Equitation, 14 and under, championship. In addition, she and Copperfield took blue in the NAL/WIHS Children's Hunter Classic, sponsored by Sweet Oak Farm.