Tracy Bartko and Argus Win $10,000 Welcome Stake at HITS Catskills II

ELLENVILLE, NY (May 30, 2001)--Tracy Bartko, 29, of Hughesville, Maryland, riding Argus, won the $10,000 Open Jumper Welcome Stake on opening day of HITS Catskills II in Ellenville, New York, today. The duo was the fastest of four double-clears, taking the win by .864 seconds. "Argus is naturally fast," said Bartko. "He goes fast even when I'm not trying to. Sometimes he's even better in the Jump-Off when I go a little faster." Argus earned $3,000 for owners Mr. and Mrs. John Bartko. Buddy Brown of Wellington, Florida, designed the course for the field of 23 entries.

The $10,000 Welcome Stake is held in the Grand Prix Field on opening day each week of the six-event HITS Catskills summer series of horse shows. The Stake class is conducted under Table II, Section 2.b, which requires riders who are clear in Round One to immediately ride a Jump-Off course rather than return as a group for a Jump-Off. For Round One, Brown built an 11-jump course that included a double at Fence No. 4, a liverpool at Fence No. 9, and another double at Fence No. 10. Time Allowed was set at 80 seconds. "I geared it more like a modified course. It was 4'8" and 4'9" mostly," said Brown. "Most of the time you'll get a rider in here that wants to move the horse up--[a horse] that's been in the high preliminaries but he's not ready for any of the bigger classes."

Seven horses went clean in Round One and stayed in the ring for the Jump-Off. Brown's short course asked the riders to jump Fences No. 1 and 2 again, then introduced three new jumps including a double, and finished again with the vertical at Fence No. 11. Time Allowed was set at 45 seconds. "I didn't ask for a whole lot of scope in the first round. Most of the combinations were pretty easy for them to jump-they had a vertical-vertical and a vertical-oxer," said Brown. "In the Jump-Off I gave them a rollback to the combination that was oxer-vertical--so they had to use a little bit of scope there--and a good gallop. There were two bigger verticals in the Jump-Off [4'8" and 4' 10"], and the last jump again going away from the gate past that corner always rides plenty big."

Michael Dorman, of Jamison, Pennsylvania, rode four horses in today's class, and was clear in Round One with all of them. Dorman had the first clean round of the field with Quriel, and was also clear in the Jump-Off, setting the pace with a time of 43.897, but ended up in fourth place, earning $1,000 for owner Wyndmont, Inc. Six more riders tried the Round One course before another clear was produced, again by Dorman, this time with Falcone also owned by Wyndmont, Inc., but the pair had a rail down in the Jump-Off for four faults plus a time fault and finished in seventh place, earning $500. The next four riders were unable to clear Round One, and then Tracy Bartko and Argus took the field with the fastest first round clear in 69.363, followed by the fastest clear Jump-Off in 39.33, which was unbeatable by the final nine riders on course.

Federico Sztyrle of Sagaponack, New York, with Caya challenged Bartko with his double-clear, but his time of 40.197 in the Jump-Off put him second, earning $2,200 for owner Sag Pond Farm. Dorman returned to the ring with Dumbo de Chappelle and was clear again in Round One, giving himself another shot at the lead, but he had a rail in the Jump-Off at the combination and ended up fifth, taking home $800 for owner Flora Ribeira. Steve Heinecke of Redding Ridge, Connecticut, on his Victoria were the next team to go double-clear, but their time of 41.491 put them third, earning $1,500. Of the five horses remaining in the class, only one more had a clear first round, Cobra de Garred, ridden by Dorman. In his last bid for the win Dorman again had a rail in the Jump-Off at the combination for four faults in 40.897, finishing in sixth place. Cobra de Garred earned $600 for owner Caroline Lloyd.

"I thought it was a good start for the week," said Bartko. "There were some careful parts to it. A lot had the liverpool down and the vertical-vertical is always careful. It was hard to ride clear, so it was a nice course." Bartko has been riding Argus, a 13-year-old, 16-hand Oldenburg gelding, for three years and has had good placings at HITS shows including Ocala this winter where they placed second in the $50,000 Rio Vista Grand Prix and Culpeper last summer where they won the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix. "Sometimes all the jumps just come up good, and today that's how it worked out for me," said Bartko. "Sometimes when you're going fast you end up taking back too much and today that didn't happen for me." Bartko and Argus competed in the $100,000 EMO Grand Prix at HITS Catskills last week, but did not place in the money. "I went clear in the Grand Prix but I messed up in the Jump-Off," said Bartko who withdrew after the sixth jump. "I was happy that he went well today because I kind of made up for my mistake I made then." Bartko is competing four horses at HITS Catskills--three are doing amateur jumper courses, and Argus is her only Grand Prix horse. She plans to compete in the $100,000 Nevele Grande Grand Prix on Sunday, June 3. "Buddy's courses are always good," said Bartko. "He's one of my favorite course designers."

"I was pleased on the whole," said Brown. "The faults that we did have from First Round competitors were all over the place which is what I like to see. I didn't feel that any one spot was the bogey jump. I'll be a little bigger than this for Friday ($15,000 Open Jumper Prix)-a little trickier, a little more technical. Sunday will be a real test. The people that are going to come and jump for $100,000 are prepared to have to jump a bit. On Friday I don't think I'll try to eliminate any competitors for Sunday. I like to keep the horses confident, keep everybody positive, and then when I put something up Sunday they're all coming in with a positive experience."

$10,000 Open Jumper Welcome Stake, May 30, 2001
HITS Catskills II, Ellenville, New York
Course Designer: Buddy Brown

Pl#/Horse/Rider/Owner/Prize Money/Rd 1 Faults/J-O Faults & Time
1/Argus/Tracy Bartko/M&M John Bartko/$3,000/0/0-39.333
2/Fedrico Sztyrle/Caya/Sag Pond Farm/$2,200/0/0-40.197
3/Victoria/Steve Heinecke/Steve Heinecke/$1,500/0/0-41.491
4/Quriel/Michael Dorman/Wyndmont Inc./$1,000/0/0-43.897
5/Dumbo de Chapelle/Michael Dorman/Flora Ribeira/$800/0/4-40.796
6/Cobra de Garred/Michael Dorman/Caroline Lloyed/$6000/4-40.897
7/Falcone/Michael Dorman/Wyndmont Inc./$500/0/5-45.590
8/Inner Beauty/Emil Spadone/Paul Sa/$400/4/NA

Number of horses who competed in this class: 23
Class Prize Money: $10,000

HITS Catskills II, May 30-June 3
HITS Catskills III, July 18-22
HITS Catskills IV, July 25-29
HITS Catskills V, August 1-5
HITS Catskills VI, August 29-September 2
June 3 $100,000 Nevele Grande Grand Prix 1pm
July 22 $100,000 Avis Grand Prix 1pm
July 29 $100,000 Cosequin® Grand Prix 1pm
August 5 $100,000 Nevele Grande Grand Prix 1pm
September 2 $100,000 Rio Vista Grand Prix 1pm
July 22 Taste of the Hudson Valley For Exhibitors Only 2pm-4pm
July 29 Kids Day 11am-1pm

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Updated: October 2005.