Wilmington, Ohio – Eager exhibitors returned to World Equestrian Center – Wilmington for the remainder of the Winter in the Midwest series, setting a thrilling atmosphere for the first feature class of the new year. A confident field of 16 horse-and-rider combinations took to the Sanctuary Arena aimed at clear rounds and quick times in the $10,000 WEC – Wilmington Welcome Stake. Ultimately Darby Pease and Carel Van Donderen (Acolino x Terania Die Hoeghte) proved unbeatable as they clinched the first win of the Winter Classic #4.
Anderson Lima (BRA) set a flowing 12-obstacle first round track. The course challenged the field of competitive athletes to maintain a forward gallop while also having the ability to balance the canter in order to leave the rails intact at the verticals off the short turns in the indoor venue. Eight riders posted a clear first round effort to qualify for the immediate jump-off phase, but it was Pease that was untouchable aboard her quickest mount.
Pease of Windcrest Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, started out her 2023 competition with a clean sweep in the Sanctuary Arena winning every class that she rode in Thursday, January 5. Entering for the $10,000 WEC Welcome Stake, she intended to continue her winning ways from Winter Classic #3 where she took top honors in the $30,000 WEC Grand Prix.
Teri Knowlton of Windcrest Farm spoke on Pease’s win “We started where we ended. The best part about the break over the holiday’s was being able to pick up where we left off with the horses here at WEC.”
Pease and Louisa Robb’s 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding entered the Sanctuary looking to knock Paul Halpern’s quick time off the top of the leaderboard. Jumping an effortless clear first-round, Pease moved onto the jump-off with polished turns, leaving out precious strides to ultimately best the class in a time of 37.323 seconds.
Finishing in a close second place was Halpern and Esra (Bratt Z x Ulibra). Halpern of Ecuries Nova Stables in Montreal, Quebec, guided the 11-year-old Holsteiner mare to a powerful performance. Vanessa Lee’s Esra flaunted her scope and athleticism over the short course, making an impressive effort over each obstacle, still managing to land and look for the inside turns. In a time of 37.374 seconds, the duo secured the red ribbon.
Rounding out the podium was Lisa Goldman-Smolen aboard her very own Nike (Lasino x Wanda XII). Goldman-Smolen of Hawthorn Woods, Illinois, was familiar with the track as she piloted three entries around the Sanctuary arena during the class. The 13-year-old Holsteiner mare was particularly careful, posting two smooth, clear rounds. One additional stride in the first inside turn of the jump-off phase added extra time to the clock. Landing over the final fence in 38.525 seconds, the duo added a top placing to their record.
$10,000 WEC Welcome Stake Results:
1 Carel Van Donderen, Darby Pease, Lousia Robb | 0 | 37.323
2 Esra, Paul Halpern, Vanessa Lee | 0 | 37.374
3 Nike, Lisa Goldman-Smolen, Lisa Goldman-Smolen | 0 | 38.525
4 Chill N, Lisa Goldman-Smolen, Lisa Goldman-Smolen | 0 | 38.770
5 Balugata, Liz Hutchison, Stellar Farms INC | 0 | 40.351
6 Clarence NT, Mikayla Sancho, Mikayla Sancho | 0 | 43.800
7 Ivaro N, Lisa Goldman-Smolen, Barbara Disko | 4 | 39.887
8 Hit Me Van’t Zorgvliet, Kyle Perkovich, Kyle Perkovich | 8 | 60.517
9 Charlene, Genevieve Munson, Genevieve Munson | 4 | 68.628
10 Zonderling, Genevieve Munson, Mark Holden | 4 | 68.782