Armani SL Z, a 9-year-old Zangersheide gelding, has been a part of Garza's program for three years. Garza, who is trained by the famed Irish rider and coach, Eddie Macken, has been careful to bring the striking grey gelding along thoughtfully, in hopes of achieving the moment that came in the ring tonight. The class saw very few clear rounds in the first half of competition, but by the time Garza had entered the ring, eleven other riders were waiting to come back in the jump-off. Aaron Vale, of Ocala, Fla., had even qualified all three of his rides for the short course.
Teran was the first rider to produce a clear first round on Il Rubacuori and he came back for the short course, ready to win. Internationally recognized as a fast rider, he clocked in a time of 40.29. Santiago Lambre, also of Mexico, came the closest by producing a clear round in 40.570. While Garza was schooling for the jump off, he could hear the cheers and gasps from the crowd in the Rolex Stadium and knew that he would have to put in an incredibly fast round to overcome Teran's early lead. Armani SL Z performed like a Grand Prix veteran and crossed the times in 39.330, giving Garza the definitive win.
Not only did Garza go home with the commemorative cooler and blue ribbon, but he also earned valueable points towards the Hagyard Challenge Series. The series consists of seven grand prix classes that are held during the 2017 show series at the Kentucky Horse Park. Following the final event, a cash prize of $50,000 will be awarded to the rider accumulating the most points throughout the series. Garza is now tied with Eve Jobs, who won the $35,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic during the Kentucky Spring Horse Show.
Show Jumping competition continues tomorrow with a $5,000 Open Jumper 1.45m as well as High Junior and Amateur Owner jumper classes. On Saturday night, Kentucky Horse Shows, LLC invites spectators to come early to watch the Preakness that will be broadcast live on the big screen in the Rolex Stadium before the $130,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix. Saturday will also feature "A Day in the Park" to honor Ellen Veitch, a beloved member of the Kentucky Horse Show, LLC family who unexpectedly passed away on February 9, 2017. Exhibitors are encouraged to braid with blue yarn and wear a blue ribbon in loving memory of Ellen. All material is available in the show office for competitors to participate including braiding yarn, ribbons, and pins. Running from noon until 2pm, there will be a Kids Korner children's party that will be held at the end of vendor row adjacent to Murphy Ring. The entire family is invited for the afternoon featuring horseless show jumping, face painting, and an ice cream social.