Dello Joio wins big

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:28 AM ET

It must be getting close to the weekend because Norman Dello Joio and his top mount Glasgow are back where you'd expect to see them.

In the winners circle.

The duo, victorious at the CN Reliability Grand Prix at this year's National, proved to be on track for the lucrative weekend events at the Spruce Meadows North American, by storming their way to last night's $50,000 Direct Energy Business Services Cup.

Dello Joio, who hails from Wellington, Fla., kept Glasgow in the barns during the smaller events since the CN Reliability in preparation for tomorrow's $200,000 Queen Elizabeth II Cup.

"We're trying to maintain him as much as we can for the next couple of years," he said of the 14-year-old Dutch warmblood gelding. "As his career starts to unwind, we want to keep as much in the bottle as we can."

Based on the way they blitzed through the jump-off course, to claim the $17,000 first-place cheque, there's still plenty.

Especially since Glasgow only recently returned after being out of action for six months thanks to an injured suspensory ligament. Dello Joio was also on the shelf due to a hamstring injury.

"This is kind of the beginning of my year," he said. "It's interesting, the horses, I think, are fresher and feel better starting here than they normally would have had they done the Florida grind."

And raring to go for the biggest prize of the week, though Dello Joio didn't want to make any claims.

"Here at Spruce Meadows you can be unlucky and have four faults or whatever. But I think he's in a pretty good groove right now and I'm encouraged about this weekend, I'm encouraged about the Masters," he said.

"I feel good about it."

Brazil's Bernardo Alves, a double winner on Wednesday, was second with Canturo, while American's Rich Fellers (McGuinness), Schuyler Riley (Opus Sept) and Laura Kraut (Miss Independent) rounded out the top five.

The decision to finally partake in the Spruce Meadows summer tour has paid big dividends for McLain Ward.

Having attended a handful of Masters events over the years, the Brewster, N.Y., product decided to stick around for the five-week string of tournaments and it's been a lucrative choice.

Not just in terms of paycheques, either.For the third time this spring, Ward headlined the winner's circle again last night, having taken top spot in the $25,000 Zeidler Financial Cup aboard Goldika 559.

"We've had a good tour, and a couple of close calls in the Grand Prix -- the fastest time in two of the big Grand Prix but had one (rail) down, so that's a bit frustrating -- but the horses have gone great, it's not their fault," he said. "So I'm pleased with the way it's been and hope to have a good finish this week."

With Goldika 559, a 13-year-old Holsteiner mare, Ward bested the field in the jump-off by more than a second and a half to claim the $7,500 first-prize cheque.

"She's very fast and she knows the game. She's experienced and is not green," Ward said.

Plus the rider doesn't mind going to the fastest gear. "If I'm on a fast horse, I like it," he conceded. "Horses are like people, some are faster than others. I have some very good horses who are slow and that can be a little frustrating.

"If I'm on a fast horse, I like to take a chance."

Rodrigo Pessoa (Loriot) was second, one spot ahead of his wife Keri Pessoa (Harry Potter). Top Canadian was Calgary's Jonathan Asselin (Luxgood), who placed eighth, while Kelley Small of Kanata, Ont., (Black Ice) was ninth.


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