Professional hunter/jumper rider Jimmy Torano is no stranger to the winner’s circle—he’s been there plenty of time on horses he trains and those he catch rides—but even by his standards, he knew Daryl Portela’s Laskano was a special horse when he arrived at Torano’s Wellington, Florida-based JET Show Stables.
The 10-year-old bay Westphalian gelding (Los Angeles—Laskaja) and Torano have been together since April 2020, and they’ve amassed numerous wins and championships in that time, including the $200,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final at HITS Saugerties (New York) and a strong 2021 indoor season where they earned the 3’6” green hunter championship at Washington International Horse Show (North Carolina), and reserve championships in the 3’6” green division at Capital Challenge (Maryland) and Pennsylvania National, as well as the $10,000 Pro Division Winners Stake at the Pennsylvania National.
This year, Laskano is competing in the 3’9” green hunter division and the USHJA international hunter derbies and has already qualified for the 2022 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship (Kentucky). Most recently, the pair topped the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington.
“His owner and I have several goals for him this year,” Torano said. “They include doing well WCHR week in Wellington—I would like to qualify for the $100,000 [WCHR] Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular night class again—competing at the Devon Horse Show, and doing well at indoors in the fall. He wins a lot, so I don’t have to show him a lot.
“Daryl Portela is the best owner,” he added. “She has been a client of mine for years, and she loves watching this horse succeed. Laskano is a lucky horse.”
Go behind the stall door to meet this rising star of the hunter ring:
• Laskano is a true athlete and very competitive.
“He loves to win,” Torano said. “The horse wants to win every time he walks into the arena. I’m competitive, too, so we work together well.”
Torano’s favorite show for Laskano is WCHR week at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington
“Last year, all of his scores were in the 90s,” Torano said. “He was absolutely amazing. I really enjoy trying to qualify him for Saturday night’s hunter class—the best of the best compete in that class.”
• Despite his competitive drive, Laskano has a very laid-back personality both on the ground and when he’s being ridden.
“He’s easy,” Torano said. “He doesn’t need a lot of training or prep—I don’t longe him before he shows. Some days, I let my 11-year-old son, JJ, flat him when we’re not showing.”
• Not much bothers him—except he’s not a fan of one particularly loud neighbor.
“At my Wellington farm, I have a neighbor that handwalks their black horse around their cement courtyard every day,” Torano said. “Laskano hears the horse’s shoes on the cement, and he gets a little upset by the noise. It takes him a day to get over it.”
• Like every competitor, Laskano has several daily routines that help him stay in top form.
“He gets his magnetic blanket and hoof pad daily,” Torano said. “I also get up early on show days and ride him in the ring. He’s not spooky and doesn’t look at anything, but I like to let him check everything out. Sometimes I only flat him around for like five minutes; that’s really all he needs some days.”
• Torano’s main goal is keeping Laskano as happy as possible. Laskano doesn’t rely on other horses for company, but he does like Portela’s second horse, Moonlight.
“They’ve always been stabled next to one another,” Torano said. “It seems to keep Laskano happy, so everywhere we go, I try to coordinate that and keep it that way.”
• Laskano has always had the same groom, Torano’s longtime head groom Frank Martinez, and he likes it that way.
“In addition to Daryl, I think Frank is one of Laskano’s favorite people,” Torano said. “Frank knows him inside and out. He’s so careful with him, and he notices everything on Laskano. If there’s a hair out of place, he tells me. You can tell Laskano appreciates the top care he gets.”
• Although Laskano doesn’t mind some down time, Torano said he enjoys the traveling horse show life.
“He’s for sure a show horse,” he said. “He likes his turnout, but he knows when he’s at a show, and he gets excited for the classes. I would definitely say he likes this life; he wants to win.”