There’s a new name in Traverse City. Belgium’s Filip De Wandel arrived and bested a (bare) foot race to the finish with Manhattan Van’t Leeuwerikenhof in Saturday’s $37,000 CSI3* Welcome Stake during week two of Traverse City Spring, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel.
Mauricio Garcia Ballesteros (PUR) designed the course for the 23 international combinations, 12 of which proceeded to the jump-off for top honors and prize money. The pace in the jump-off accelerated with each pair. Friday’s winners Katie Dinan (USA) and Athos D’Elle appeared tough to beat, speeding to a jump-off time of 35.88 seconds. Seeking the win that Dinan denied her Friday, Kelli Cruciotti VanderVeen (USA) guided 8-year-old Gideon, owned by Serenity Farm, to a new leading time, omitting strides and crossing the timers in 35.77 seconds
With very little wiggle room left, De Wandel chose a curated path across the short track. While the pace was not an all-out gallop, his precision and efficient turns sealed the deal and shaved fractions of a second off the leading time to finish in 35.15 seconds. The only challenger of the two entries to follow was Beat Mändli’s (SUI) second mount, Vic Des Cerisiers, owned by Grant Road Partners LLC, but fell just short in 35.20 seconds, placing second with Cruciotti VanderVeen in third.
“He’s a very careful but solid horse,” De Wandel remarked on his partner since June 2021, the 2012 Belgian Warmblood gelding (Emerald x Kashmir Van Schuttershof), owned by Five Way Farm LLC. “We go in the ring and I don’t have to worry about spooking or anything. He won a class a few weeks ago, so I think I’ve started to know and trust him a little bit better in the jump-off.”