If the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity is the place for shimmering debuts of star horses, this year's event, held Nov. 23-Dec. 1 in Oklahoma City, Okla., was electrifying all the way through.If the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity is the place for shimmering debuts of star horses, this year's event, held Nov. 23-Dec. 1 in Oklahoma City, Okla., was electrifying all the way through.
If the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity is the place for shimmering debuts of star horses, this year’s event, held Nov. 23-Dec. 1 in Oklahoma City, Okla., was electrifying all the way through.
The National Reining Horse Association’s Open Futurity Champion was Andrea Fappani, riding RR Star, but his title was one earned by high scores and a sensational run-off against Brent Wright and Custom Pistol.
Just the night before, on Friday, Nov. 30, the Non-Pro Futurity Division Champion was determined by a run-off, where Josh Hattig and Fridays Gold Eclipse scored just a point higher than Mandy McCutcheon and Dun Gotta Gun.
People wondered how the Open finals could possibly top the Non-Pro excitement. Not one spectator left the Saturday evening performance less than absolutely thrilled.
Of the 31 horses competing in the third and final Open round, 29 horses scored above 210 and 11 of those were 220 or higher. Fappani and Wright topped the remarkable pack with a 227.5 each. The same two riders advanced to the finals, literally neck-to-neck, with Fappani positioned at second with a composite 442 and Wright in third holding 441.5 points. Todd Crawford, Santa Ynez, Calif., enjoyed the highest combined score after winning the first go with 227 and marking a 222 in the second on Princess In Diamonds.
Wright and Custom Pistol, owned by Steve Simon, Paxton, Mass., performed first in the run-off. The work progressed according to plan until the horse froze and reversed in the first rollback. The judges held the score while Fappani and RR Star ran to a 219.5. It was subsequently determined that Wright had indeed gone off-course and he therefore received a zero score, clearing the way for Fappani to take the Open Championship.
Just like last year, the Open winner was graced with a hefty $150,000 check, along with a trailer, saddle, buckle, bronze and loads of other prizes. The owners of RR Star, Richard and Rose Lundin from Lundin Farms, Del Norte, Colo., were very pleased with their gorgeous Paint stallion and his first major victory.
Fappani, 24, originally from Italy, now lives in Eagle Point, Ore., where he trains horses with Todd Bergen. This championship made this young reiner’s NRHA Futurity record a very impressive three-for-three. In 1997, Fappani competed at the Futurity for the first time as a non-pro and won the Limited Non-Pro Division on his own horse Best By Tari.
He took a Futurity respite to complete mandatory military service in his home country before returning to the United States in 1999. The next year, he competed as a pro and won the 2000 Intermediate Open title on Hagans Sugarman, owned by James Blumer, Moscow, Pa. On his third, most recent try, he became this year’s Open Champion on RR Star, a Like A Diamond sorrel overo stallion out of RL Miss Kitty by Nu Cash.
For the 447-entry Open Futurity, Fappani showed three horses and qualified for the finals on two. His other third round contender, Style With Me (Lean With Me x Stylish Major), scored a 218.5 that tied Fappani for 14th place and added $9,441 to the money chest.
"That was a dream, to come back in the Open finals," the young trainer said happily.
No stranger to last go-round action, Wright, Ottawa, Kan., has made the Open finals at the NRHA Futurity 10 times. He placed third just two years ago, in 1999, on Custom Red Berry, a half sister to this year’s Reserve Champion, Custom Pistol.
Soothing second-place blues was a large $97,340 payout for Custom Pistol’s owner, Steve Simon, Paxton, Mass. By Custom Crome, the reserve champion stallion is out of Hollywood Lady Jo by Hollywood Smoke.
Tom McCutcheon, Pilot Point, Texas, rode Sailin Ruf, a colt by Little Ruf Peppy, the sire McCutcheon owns with Ed and Nancy Pickett, to a third place with a 225 finals score. Sailin Ruff is out of Pinesail by Topsail Cody and is owned by Giovanni Cioli also of Pilot Point.
After two terrific go’s, Crawford and Princess In Diamonds (Shining Spark x Eyed Be A Princess by Eyed Be Impressive) wrapped up their Futurity with a 223 and a fourth-place, $54,910 finish.
Just two months after taking home the Intermediate Open Reserve Championship at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity, Robbie Schroeder, Gainesville, Texas, marked a 222.5 for fifth on Shine By The Bay (Shining Spark x Metermaid To Order by Doc O’Lena). The stallion, owned by Shroeder in partnership with Jack Gregg, also made the Intermediate Open finals and walked away with $46,627 in total winnings.
Last year’s top seller from the NRHA Prospect Sale, Starlight N Lena (Grays Starlight x Shanda Lena by Doc O’Lena), a stallion owned by Gabrielle and Lorenzo Burke, Santa Fe, N.M., was ridden by Randy Paul to a 218.5 and a tie for 14th place that paid $9,441.
Two Lenas Wright On colts and one Shining Spark took the top three spots in the Intermediate Open.
Winning the Division was Trent Pederson on Slide Zone, a stallion owned by Kathy Tomac, Cortez, Colo. Pederson, who lives in Yamhill, Ore., and works for Bob Avila, came into the finals four points off the top only to put in a last go work that earned a 219 champion score. Slide Zone, out of halter/reining mare MS Skippa Tan by Quincy Sun Tan, earned a $16,302 Intermediate prize payout along with a $3,190 fourth place in the Limited Open.
Coming in just one point off the top, Shadd Parkinson, Cave Creek, Ariz., and Bub Poplin, Morgan, Utah, scored 218s to share the $24,987 combined second- and third-place purse.
Parkinson rode Coeur D Mister (Lenas Wright on x Mist N Smoke by Doc Tom Tucker), owned by Shadd’s parents, Debra and Dorn Parkinson. The duo also tied for second in the Limited Open, which made for $16,831 in total winnings.
On Rise N Shine Jac (Shining Spark x Kelinds Lady Jac by Hollywood Jac 86), Poplin earned the $15,324 Intermediate Open Reserve Championship plus a $2,835 Limited Open fifth place for owner John Rhineer, Morgan, Utah.
As assistant trainer to Tim McQuay for seven years, Benjamin Gerst, Tioga, Texas, rode several Futurity champions. This year Gerst commandeered his own win in the Limited Open on Smart China Rose, a mare owned by James Waldron, Sherman, Texas.
Smart China Rose (Smart Chinalena x Joes Tokyo Rose by So Quick Joe) won the first go of the Limited Open with a 220 and then added a 213.5 in the second to make a 433.5 composite, earning $8,152 in champion money. After an Intermediate Open fifth place and trip to the Open finals, Smart China Rose and Gerst deposited an additional $10,960 to their winnings account.
Winding up just a half-point under the lead for the Limited Open was John O’Hara, Frisco, Texas, on Sparks N Starzz (Shining Spark x Bar S Chicy Sails by Smart Chic Olena) along with Shadd Parkinson on Coeur D Mister, who tied for Reserve and split $8,684 in prize money. Owned by Mark Bradford, Plano, Texas, Sparks N Starzz also made the Intermediate Open finals with O’Hara, where he won $1,701 for an 18th-place tie.
The last go of the 155-entry Cinch Non-Pro came down to an incredibly tight finish. Scoring 220 and tying for the lead, Josh Hattig, Berthoud, Colo., on Fridays Gold Eclipse and Mandy McCutcheon, Pilot Point, Texas, riding Dun Gotta Gun advanced to a heart pounding run-off for the championship.
McCutcheon set the pace with a formidable 220.5 and Hattig came on just one point stronger to capture the 2001 Non-Pro title. For his efforts, Hattig earned $27,666 along with a trailer, saddle, buckle and all the other good stuff. In fact, Hattig was wondering what he would do with all his prizes since he also topped this year’s NRBC and NRHA Non-Pro Derbies along with last year’s Intermediate Non-Pro Futurity on Steadys Dude, a full brother to this year’s mount. Both horses are by Steady Tradition and out of Bar Good Friday by Blondy’s Dude and are owned by Hattig’s parents, Brad and Muriell Hattig also of Berthoud.
Hattig also rode Chics Dry Eclipse (Smart Chic Olena x Miss Zan Skip Dry by Zan Skip Too) for an $11,024 seventh Non-Pro placing and marked a composite 433 in the rounds to capture the Pfizer Non-Pro Gelding award that paid $6,923 worth of incentive money.
As for McCutcheon, her Reserve finish on Dun Gotta Gun added $23,043 to her nearly half-million in lifetime earnings. The stallion, owned by Tim and Colleen McQuay, is by Hollywood Dun It and out of Katie Gun, the John Gun daughter that also happens to be the dam to Colonels Smokingun, better known as "Gunner."
McCutcheon also rode Miss Tuff Enterprise, a mare out of USS Enterprise and by Little Ruf Peppy to a seventh-place tie and $7,556 in Non-Pro finals payout. Taking a look back, Mandy won the Non-Pro Futurity consecutively in 1993 on Hollywoods Striker and in 1994 on Mi Hollywood Darlin then was the 1998 Reserve Champion on Onside Kick.
Taking home third and $19,345 in the Cinch Non-Pro was Sally Broten, River Falls, Wis., on Mega Ditto (DNA), a mare by Marthas Mega Jac and out of Okie Dokie Dunnit, a Hollywood Dun It daughter that Broten showed to the 1997 NRHA Derby Limited Non-Pro and 1998 Amateur Reserve World Reserve Championships.
After winning the Limited Non-Pro Division at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity, Nelle Murphy, Brentwood, Calif., turned around and rode Gotta Get Ya Dun (Hollywood Dun It x Country Dyna by Broadway Bay) to a fourth placing and $14,722 in the Non-Pro Reining Futurity. Incidentally, Murphy was the Non-Pro Co-Reserve Champion in 1994 on Smokin Brakes and earned the Non-Pro Championship the next year on Lotsa Train. Murphy’s father, Don, owned all three horses.
On Da Chics Tune, Kim Lansidel, Renton, Wash., won the 126-entry Intermediate Non-Pro Division and tied for 12th in the Non-Pro for a grand total of $9,866. The palomino Da Chics Tune (Smart Chic Olena x Tune Miss Red by Mr Baron Red) was trained by Lansidel and is owned by her parents, Karl and Marjorie Eilers, also of Renton.
Taking home the $3,234 Intermediate Non-Pro Reserve Championship was Chad Clark riding Ruf Catalyst (Lil Ruf Peppy x Catalyst King by Taris Catalyst). The pair also placed sixth in the Non-Pro finals and for an additional $5,938 in winnings.
Justin Zimmerman, Springfield, Mo., surprised himself by riding Little Super Smoker to the top of the 78-entry Limited Non-Pro. Referring to the horse as green, Zimmerman turned the inexperienced bay gelding into a champion while earning his first Futurity title and $2,480 along the way. Little Super Smoker (Gallo Del Cielo x Super Smoker by Smokin Jose) and Zimmerman also made the Non-Pro finals and placed third in the Intermediate Non-Pro for an extra $4,204 payout.
Riding Peppys Double Chant (Peppy A Poco x Chants Double Luck by Mr Chant Bob), Meaghan Shea, Eureka, Mont., won the Limited Non-Pro Reserve Championship and $1,510 in finals money on the stallion owned by Patrick Shea, also of Eureka. Additionally, Meaghan’s 10th place tie in the Non-Pro finals paid $5,291.
In its second year of existence, the Prime Time Non-Pro saw 51 entries compete for $5,000 in cash prizes. This division is for non-pro reiners who are age 45 and better.
Dr. Jim Morgan, Pilot Point, Texas, won the Prime Time title along with $1,115 on Skip The Hick O Lea (Mr Freckles O Lena x Hick N Badge by Peppy Badge Olena). The pair also placed sixth in the Non-Pro finals, taking home a nice $12,873 check. Taking second and $640 was H. Victor Gilson from Bridgeton, N.J., on Miss Rosalie Dun It (Hollywood Dun It x Rosalie Dillon by Kemar’s Bar Chex). Gilson and his buckskin mare also placed fifth in the Intermediate Non-Pro for $1,732 in additional money.
Last year was the first time for the Pfizer-sponsored Gelding Incentive program. A very attractive $30,000 is divided among the high-scoring Open and Non-Pro geldings according to composite scores from the first and second rounds.
Of the 71 eligible geldings in the Open, Shawn Flarida, Springfield, Ohio, won on Hickorys First Stop (Zan Freckles Hickory x Jokers Sunny Jack by Joker Solano), collecting $13,048 for owner Michael Harper, Morrow, Ohio. Hickorys First Stop’s earnings more than doubled to $30,519 when Flarida rode the horse to a 12th-place finish in the Open finals.
The Reserve Champion Open Gelding was Buckaroo Whiz (Topsaid Whiz x Miss Poco Easy by My Lucero) shown by Duane Latimer. Along with the $6,524 incentive money, the pair earned another $18,719 by placing 11th in the Open finals.
The top Pfizer Non-Pro gelding was Chics Dry Eclipse, ridden by Josh Hattig. Between the incentive money and the sixth-place payout in the Non-Pro finals, the pair won a total of $17,947 in payouts. The Reserve Champion gelding was Dun It With A 045 (Hollywood Dun It x Select A Forty Five by Smokin 45) shown by Ginger Schmersal from Menifee, Calif. Including the pair’s seventh placing in the Non-Pro finals, its total show purse was $11,018.
NRHA Sire & Dam Program
Up and above the tremendous purses offered in the Open and Cinch Non-Pro divisions, the NRHA presented an additional goodie bag for the owners who possess sires of the top three finishers. The only requirement is that the sires be enrolled in the NRHA Sire & Dam program.
Because last year’s champion and reserve Open horses were not by enrolled stallions, the money rolled over to this year’s sizeable jackpot that paid out $33,597 to Sue Hearst, owner of Like A Diamond, the father of the first place RR Star.
Steve Simon added $20,152 to his take as owner of Custom Crome, sire of the Reserve Champion, Custom Pistol.
Tom McCutcheon along with Ed and Nancy Pickett earned $13,434 for the third placing of the Little Ruf Peppy stallion, Sailin Ruf. Because Steady Tradition was not enrolled this year, the $7,082 Champion portion rolls over into next year’s Non-Pro prize pool. Dun Gotta Gun generated $4,249 for McQuay-Easton LLC, owner of Hollywood Dun It. Scott McCutcheon pocketed $2,833 for the third placing of Mega Ditto, son of Marthas Mega Jac.