March 11, 2015--With just one more World Cup qualifier to go, Laura Kraut seems to have secured her ticket to Las Vegas for the Longines finals with a third-place finish in last weekend's $372,000 5-star grand prix at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Fla.
Cedric, her 17-year-old 2008 Olympic team gold medal mount can be unpredictable, but he made the three-horse jump-off and wound up behind Britain's Ben Maher (Diva) and Germany's Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Fibonacci 17) in the class under the lights. Since the first two finishers are European, Laura got the top U.S. point allocation to put her second in the race to Vegas.
Todd Minikus continues to lead the way on 85 points, while Laura has 77 and Hardin Towell is third with 71. Beezie Madden, who had been dangerously close to the cut-off point (only the top seven from the East Coast will make the finals) is now fourth with 62 points, while McLain Ward and 1986 finals winner Leslie Howard each have 61, followed by Kirsten Coe (57).
Still in the hunt at number eight is Katie Dinan (55). Candice King (53) and Charlie Jayne (45) also are within the realm of possibility. There is, as well, the opportunity for a lower-ranked rider moving up if one or more of the top group drops out.
Although there are no more qualifiers on the West Coast, those riders can come East for the last qualifier in Ocala March 21 if they wish. So far, it seems only Vinton Karrasch, who stands fourth two points behind Rich, (the top three go to Vegas) may be making that trip.
So our blogger Susan Artes remains in first place, followed by Karl Cook and 2012 Cup finals winner Rich Fellers.