Meet the 2017 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Champion, Jake Gorrell

On his quest to win the biggest trophy in the sport of reined cow horse, Jake Gorrell has taken care of the little things with the hope that one day, the big things would take care of themselves. That's exactly what happened last night in Fort Worth when Gorrell marked a composite score of 657.5 (214.5 herd/218 rein/225 fence) on Plain Catty to win the 2017 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Championship and $125,000. Bet Hes Black, owned by C Ranches Inc and ridden by Zane Davis marked a 654.5 to bank the $90,000 reserve champion's check.

In Fort Worth, Gorrell knew he had a finals-type of horse if he could get him shown right. 
 
“I never know what it takes to win it. It’s persistence, consistency and trying to stay in the game. Usually if I can get to the fence work okay – because that’s probably my better event – then I kind of have a shot sometimes,” Gorrell said.
 
Gorrell and Plain Catty, nicknamed “Sparky,” had shown in the 2017 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Intermediate finals on Thursday, where they tied for third place to earn $12,000. With the hectic schedule, Gorrell let the stallion recuperate on Friday so that he’d be ready for the Open herd work Saturday morning. 
 
“He was a little fresh,” said Gorrell who’d been expecting Plain Catty to be tired. “He was a little more horse than I thought at first, but then he chilled back down.”
 
Gorrell and Plain Catty marked a 214.5 in the herd work which was won with a 221 by Myles Brown and Miss Scarlets Cat (Metallic Cat x Bee Miss Scarlet x Lenas Busy Bee).
 
“I’d hoped to do better, because without having to go make 225’s (in the fence work), you’ve got to be better than a 14,” Gorrell said of his score. “I was kind of bummed about it, but it was all right, so I thought that I’d keep going at it to see how high up the ladder we could get.” 
 
In the reining, which was won by Bet Hes Black and Davis with a 223, Plain Catty used his signature stops and good circles to mark a 218. While that run put them back into contention for the top spot, Gorrell knew that he’d have to score big in the cow work if he wanted the win. But he also knew that trying to force the run wouldn’t work out. 
 
“When the cow came out, he was a lot of cow,” Gorrell said. “He was coming at me and he was not an easy cow to read. I kept trying to settle him down and I was even telling him, ‘easy, easy, settle down’. I never really got the feel on him like I would on a normal cow, but I wasn’t going to get it so I thought, ‘let’s go, let’s see what happens’ and man, he took the turns on the fence great.”
 
After the first turn, Gorrell knew he had a shot at getting a big score but then, after his second turn, he questione

 
NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Reserve Champion rider Zane Davis and Bet Hes Black,
owned by C Ranches.

d if he should make another one or go circle.

 
“I had a bit of hesitation and then I thought, ‘screw it, let’s just go’,” said Gorrell who went on to mark the highest cow work score of the night, a 225. “I turned him loose, and it worked.”
 
Plain Catty (Bet Hesa Cat x Miss Plain Plain x Just Plain Colonel) was ridden throughout his two-year-old year by Mark Luis. He was put through last year’s NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Sale but was then taken home again by his breeder/owner Kevin Cantrelle. The colt went to Gorrell after that.   
 
“He’s a rancher, he’s a horseman, he’s got a really good eye for a horse and he’s got really good horses,” Gorrell said of Cantrelle. “He’s got a knack at having nice horses. And Mark did an awesome job with this horse. He’s the brokest two-year-old I’ve ever had, so he was easy. I just kept stepping him up a little bit all the time.”
 
For Gorrell, who is sponsored by LMF Horse Feeds, Eagle Valley Animal Bedding and Stray Dog Saddles, this win belongs to his wife Sonia, as much as it does him.
 
“My wife is beautiful and she’s wonderful. She’s worked her butt off here for me this last couple of days. It’s been a chaotic three years for us, personally and business-wise. We put our heads down and struggled through it, and this will give us a little relief.” 
 
The reserve champion, Bet Hes Black (Bet Hesa Cat x Soula Jule Forever x Sola Jule Star), battled a minor illness during the preliminary rounds at the Snaffle Bit Futurity. Trainer Zane Davis felt that the stallion didn’t return to his usual form until mid-way through the herd work finals.
“I knew if I could get him back that I’d have a chance to win,” said Davis, “so I am extremely happy with this.”
 
Bet Hes Black has been in Davis’s training program since he was a yearling, when owner Billie Filippini’s son, Johnny, picked him out at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Select Yearling Sale.
 
 “He came and asked how much he should pay for the horse, and I said, ‘Don’t bid over 15 thousand’ and he bought him for 50 so I’m glad he didn’t listen to me,” Davis said. “This is a special horse. From the time we got him you could tell he was going to be a champion. He always looked the part, he could do everything and when he steps in the arena everyone knows who he is – it’s unusual for a horse to have that much presence. He’s got athletic ability and try and everything else you need.”
 
Bridget Kirkwood photos