Knowing her No.-1 horse, Special Ed, wouldn't be available for the $175,000 Chrysler Classic, Jill Henselwood took a chance.
And she decided to give her next best mount, Black Ice, some R 'n R heading into the big event.
The bold move paid off.
"He was just flat-out tired. Like a runner that does mini-marathons and suddenly hits the wall," said Henselwood of Black Ice's situation a few days ago. "Thursday I jumped him, and he wasn't very good, so I said to the girls, 'OK, let's rest him. Nothing but TLC, epsom salts, baths, massage -- everything we can imagine -- vitamins and grain, carrots, eat grass, go for nice walks.'
"I never went near him until half-an-hour before the event. I climbed on and thought, 'I wonder what I'll have.' "
Turned out to be her best day ever at Spruce Meadows.
Henselwood, of Oxford Mills, Ont., recorded only a single time-fault en route to claiming the $58,000 first-place prize aboard the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding in the North American tournament finale.
Ideally, she would have ridden both her horses in the derby, but Special Ed was in Florida yesterday, quarantined in preparation for the Pan-American Games later this month in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
It was up to Black Ice to carry the weight. Then again, Black Ice would be a No.-1 horse for many riders.
"He has some great titles. Ed is identifiably my number-one horse, and yet Black Ice has more titles," Henselwood said. "I think Eddie should get the lead out and win some titles. How about Pan-Am individual gold for Canada?"
Henselwood and the rest of Canada's team -- Eric Lamaze, Ian Millar, Mac Cone and Karen Cudmore -- must finish in the top three -- or fourth if the U.S. reaches the podium -- in the team event to qualify a team for the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing.
"I think we have some strength, and the players going are optimistic and buoyed by their successes, and that never hurts you," Henselwood said. "I think you have team synergy we haven't seen ever.
"Eric Lamaze is hungry for Canada to be at the Olympics, Ian Millar is hungry to have a team with him -- he did not enjoy going there solo (in 2004), and it would be a career victory for me to go to an Olympics.
"I figure this is the shot.
"I think this team is gonna pull out all the stops. We're aiming for the gold. To hell with qualifying -- let's win the gold."
Kyle King of Mobile, Ala. --the fastest of the four-faulters -- placed second with Capone 1 and won $35,000.
King zoomed around the course but was victimized by the final jump in the three-part Devil's Dyke.
Third was Mario Deslauriers of Bromont, Que., with Paradigm to win $21,500, while Lisa Silverman of New York and Obelix R placed fourth and won $17,500.
Calgary's John Anderson was fifth with Gesine 36 and won $12,700, while his sister, Susan Anderson, placed sixth on Telegraph to win $7,500.
On top of his bronze finish, Deslauriers won the North American championship, compiling the most points in the four 1.60m events with Paradigm. He wins the use of a Chrysler car for a year as well as $5,000 in gas from Esso and $15,000 from CN.