The final day of competition at the Four Sixes National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel saw full classes in both the Jim Norick Coliseum and Adequan® Arena. In addition to the class titles, high point Montana Silversmiths buckles were also presented to the high point exhibitors who competed in both slates of classes.
Natalie Vargo and Surpized Sweep Green Reiner 1 & 2
Natalie Vargo and Surpized (Hang Ten Surprize x Snow White Dun It) swept the Green Reiner Levels 1&2 with a 144. The 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel marks Vargo and Surprized’s first show together, and they’ve been exceeding expectations. They kicked off the show with a win during Friday’s Green Reiner topping the field in the 1&2. They continued that streak on Sunday to ultimately pick up the high point championship as well.
“He was really good again today,” Vargo said. “I was a lot more comfortable, just because this was the second time showing him, so I was a little bit less nervous than the other day. It started off with the right circles, he was really good there, then stopped in the center and turned really good for me… he was just really today.”
Vargo’s family has owned the now 5-year-old since he was 2, and throughout his open career. Vargo and Surprized’s partnership is proving worthwhile and beckons to a promising future for the pair.
“The win feels really good, just because I didn’t really expect anything, because I didn’t really know him that much and I still really don’t, but it feels good,” she said. “I think [our partnership] is getting pretty good. I’m excited to show him more in some of the bigger non pro stuff and see how it goes.”
Chloe Elizabeth Cannon and Mr Hollywood Cee (Hollywoodstinseltown x Miss Hollywood Cee) finished second in the Green Reiner 2 with a score of 141.5. Linsey Lester and Dreamin About Sailin (Magnum Chic Dream x Pennys For Sail) finished second in the Green Reiner 2 with a 140.
Gracie Weeks Tops Youth 13 & Under with One Last Starbuck
Gracie Weeks and One Last Starbuck (Smart Starbuck x Justa Spring Freckle) marked a 139 to top the field in the Youth 13 & Under.
“I’ve been riding him for a little over a year. He’s a really good horse for me, he’s just been the greatest,” Weeks said of One Last Starbuck, who she calls “Latte.”
Weeks admits Saturday’s showing didn’t go as planned, but the duo redeemed themselves in Sunday’s performance to take the win.
“He improved a lot today,” she said. “I will say I might have to work on some things, but he did a lot better.”
Weeks has been riding reining horses since she was 7, and she’s learned a few valuable lessons over the last couple of years. “The most important thing I’ve learned would probably be is always been a good horseman, or horsewoman, have good horsemanship and stay humble,” she said. “Also, stay in control of your horse and don’t go crazy or anything.”
Becca Schaffhauser Wins Youth 13&Under High Point
Becca Schaffhauser and Dun Got My Rest (Hollywood Dun It x Got My Rest) won the Youth 13 & Under High Point title.
“We had a really good run yesterday and I was very happy with it. We had a couple of bobbles today, but I was happy with it, too,” Schaffhauser said.
Schaffhauser has been riding the 13-year-old for two years and working to get together as a team. One of the maneuvers, which Schaffhauser enjoys focusing on is the turns.
“I’ve had him for two years and he’s such a good boy,” she said, adding that when she first started riding “Cruz,” the hardest part to get used to was his fast turning style. “I’d been used to a slow turning horse. My favorite maneuver is probably the turns and [I’ll be working mostly] on getting faster in my turns.”
Raeanna Thayn Wins Youth 14-18 on Coded N Karma
Raeanna Thayn and Coded N Karma (Electric Code x Whiz N Snap) marked a 145 to take the win in the Youth 14-18. Raeanna and Coded N Karma have had a lot of success over the years, and they’ve continued that in Oklahoma City.
“He was really good, he’s had a couple of months off, and he really came out today. He’s 10 years old this year, so we’re just kind of taking it easy,” she said.
The duo admittedly had a little trouble in Saturday’s showing, but they put it all together on Sunday for a winning run.
“He was a lot more connected,” Thayn said. “He kind of missed his stop the other day and I just schooled him. He was really good today and connected.”
Lydia Bell Wins Youth 14-18 High Point on Chics Want My Number
Lydia Bell and Chics Want My Number (Wimpys Little Step x Dixie Chic Olena) put together two money-winning runs in Oklahoma City to ultimately win the Youth 14-18 High Point title.
“It’s exciting. It’s my last year (in the Youth) so it’s a good feeling to go out with a bang,” Bell said.
In slate one of the Youth Bell and Chics Want My Number turned in a 144.5 to share the win in Saturday’s Youth 14-18. On Sunday the duo followed that with another winning run with a score of 144.5.
“He’s just a really cool horse and I love riding him,” she said. “He was relaxed and just really good today.”
Abigail Dooley Clinches Short Stirrup High Point with Top Haida
On Saturday, 10-year-old Abigail Dooley finished second in the Short Stirrup class. She and her mount, Top Haida, returned to the show pen on Sunday to make a 146, not only winning the class but also the high point buckle.
“The run on Saturday wasn’t my favorite. I got our stops wrong, but got it adjusted here today,” Dooley said. “It was very fun to be here and show. It’s nice to have this win. This is my second buckle, but my first this year.”
Dooley has been riding Top Haida, by NRHA Twelve Million Dollar Sire Topsail Whiz out of Haida Million, for a few years. “We call him Vegas. Lon and Sherry Kraft own him, and they have let me ride him two or three years now in the short stirrup,” she said. “It’s been very fun to ride him. He has always been good to me.”
Eduardo Ramirez Sweeps Rookie Levels 1 & 2 for High Point Championships
It was a great weekend for Eduardo Ramirez and Jeweled Out. The duo won the Rookie Levels 1 and 2 on Saturday, and then returned to the Adequan® on the final day of competition. There, they clinched the high point championship for both levels with a score of 144.
“It’s awesome. I am glad to finally have a buckle,” he said. “This is my first one, and I am very excited.”
Ramirez gave credit to Jeweled Out, by Cromed Out Mercedes out of Whiz Jewels. “He was really good,” Ramirez said. “My run today he was great. Our last stop was just ok, but he was really good.”
The next stop for the duo? The Rookie at the Run for a Million in Las Vegas.
Molly Cherry and Guaranteed A Magnum Win Rookie Prime Time
Molly Cherry and Guaranteed A Magnum won the second slate of the Rookie Prime Time with a score of 142.5 Guaranteed A Magnum is by Magnum With A Dream and out of Guaranteed By Amos.
“He’s a lot of fun,” Cherry said. “I just have to learn how to ride him. I just started riding him this year. He had a great Derby career (back-to-back Level 4 Open Derby Champion with Jimmy Van Der Hoeven). Now, I am trying to figure him out through the Rookie and Non Pro stuff, so that’s been fun.”
Second in the Rookie Prime Time was Deborah Good riding Chics Love Me Wimpy (Wimpys Little Step x Dream About Magic) with a score of 139.
Terry Saxton and MJG Hollywood Jersey Win Rookie Prime Time High Point
Terry Saxton and MJG Hollywood Jersey (Yellow Jersey x MJG Hollywood Dry) took home the Rookie Prime Time High Point title from their efforts in Oklahoma City. On Friday the duo took home the title and while a little tough luck on Sunday landed them seventh in the Prime Time, but it was good enough to earn them the Prime Time title.
“I’m very excited about this win,” Saxton said. “Today wasn’t as good as Friday, but that’s OK. I had a nice score on Friday to make up for it. We’re still learning each other. She’s super calm in the ring and does exactly what I ask. That’s exactly what I need because she’s just steady. It’s great to end on a high point, and I love the buckle!”
The Four Sixes National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel boasted record payouts in every level as well as all-time high entries. Open Champions made their bid for championship honors Saturday, June 26 in the Jim Norick Arena at the Oklahoma State Fair Park in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The new title sponsorship from Four Sixes Ranch brought an incredible new payout framework for both the Open and Non Pro Derby. It raised the Open L4 Derby championship to $75,000 – up $15,000 from the previous year – while in many levels the money awarded to the champion more than doubled!
The record-breaking event also welcomed several new classes across the Open and Non Pro divisions, including the $40,000 Tamarack Ranch Open Stakes and the $15,000 Added GlycoGuard Novice Horse Open Derby, which were both decided during the preliminary round.
Trevor Dare and Jerseys Baby Driver Sweep NRHA Open Derby Level 4
Trevor Dare and Jerseys Baby Driver flew into the Jim Norick Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for the 6666 NRHA Open Derby Level 4 finals with a mission on their mind. From the first maneuver, the crowd was on their feet. From that first sliding stop to the last, the crowd stayed behind Dare and his talented equine partner. The crowd knew what they were witnessing—and the judges agreed. When it was all said and done Dare topped the field with a 226.5.
“This is the best feeling,” Dare said after his win. “I knew I needed to be perfect, stay out of his way, and just put him in the right spot and he would take care of the rest.”
Jerseys Baby Driver was picture perfect the entire run, but his stops were standout moments—an attribute Dare agrees is a strong suit. “He’s a really big stopper, so when we ran through the gate, I was really focused on making sure that we could nail that first stop,” he said. “He’s almost like a powerlifter when he runs and stops. It’s like he tries to make the earth shake. It’s a crazy feeling.”
While Dare knew he could count on the 5-year-old stallion, by Yellow Jersey out of Wind Her Up Chic, to show up in the stops, he was careful to not lose focus during the rest of the run.
“At the NRBC we had gotten in a bit of a hurry starting our first turns, so that was a spot I knew I needed to focus, and again he was right there,” he said. “I did my job, and he did his. It was a team effort out there. From start to finish the harder I pushed the more he gave me.”
Jerseys Baby Driver has been with Dare since he was a yearling after owner Janice Laney purchased him out of the Legacy Sale. The colt was started by Damian Rico as a 2-year-old and then Dare took the reins. The pair have been climbing to the top of the field ever since and sharing a special bond along the way.
“The difference between a good horse and a great horse is the size of their heart, and he has a big one,” Dare said. “I always believed in him and always knew it would get there; that we just had to put it together. You ask any of the professionals out here it is hard to do, so it feels great to put it together at the same time.”
Before the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel, Dare’s lifetime earnings were $644,000, and the $75,000 Championship check has pushed him past the $700,000 mark.
“I think the payout is great and it’s another way to promote our business and horses,” he said. “It gives us more money to run at and really supports the growth of our industry. Thank you to the 6666 Ranch.”
The Derby championship is a significant boost for anyone’s career, and while Dare is grateful and truly excited for the win, he’s humble enough to recognize that each show is a new day.
“Obviously it’s a good thing, but tomorrow it will be over with, and we will start getting ready for the next one,” he said.
Dare thanked his wife, team and clients for their support and encouragement not only in Oklahoma City but throughout his entire career.
“My wife manages and organizes my whole life. My customers will agree if you take me out of the saddle, I’m pretty much worthless,” Dare said with a laugh. “Thank you to Janice Laney for continuing to believe in me when we have been so close. Thank you to my whole team that works for me. I couldn’t have made it through this week or this year without them. They keep everything rolling.”
Josh Tishman and Gunnarickashay Win Level 3 Open Championship
Josh Tishman and Gunnarickashay had a big feat in front of them. A 221 was leading the Level 3 and 223 was sitting at the top in the Level 4. It was Tishman’s first Level 4 finals, making the situation even more nerve-wracking. With a propitious career at his feet, Tishman focused on one maneuver at a time.
“I don’t know if I really had a strategy,” he said. “It was my first Level 4 finals and I just tried to stay cool and treat it like any other ride going through the gates.”
Tishman and Gunnarickashay came in, gave a stellar performance, and when it was all said and done Tishman—who trains out of Casey Deary’s barn as an assistant trainer— tied with his mentor with a 223. When the last horse had cleared the arena, Tishman had won the Level 3 title and was part of a four-way tie for the Level 4 Reserve Championship. Thanks to the Four Sixes Ranch guaranteed payouts, Tishman won $35,000 for the Level 3 title and earned an additional $31,892 for his piece of the Co-Reserve tie.
“The horse made it easy, and it just kept getting better and better as the ride went on,” he said.
Owned by Puno Performance Horses LLC, Gunnarickashay is by NRHA Four Million Dollar Sire Gunnatrashya and out of Rondas Tio. Tishman took the reins over from Deary a few months ago, and the two have been steadily improving ever since.
“Casey has shown him a bunch, and then he (Gunnarickashay) had an injury where we had to give him a year off,” Tishman said. “Then Casey showed him at the beginning of the year at the Cactus and the Run For A Million qualifier. Then the Punos were generous enough to let me try him, because Casey had some other horses to ride. I showed him at the NRBC and had a few bobbles. Then I showed here, and he has felt amazing all week. He has gotten better and better as the week has gone on and he was as honest as he could be tonight.
“I’ve worked for Casey for six years now. 2012 was the first time I sat on a reining horse,” he said. “I fell in love with reining in college.”
Tishman now lives in Weatherford, Texas, training out of the Deary’s facility. He was quick to give thanks to the Punos for the opportunity to ride Gunnarickashay and other great horses. “The Punos are great customers. They’ve had a lot of horses with us, and have been great clients and generous enough to let us assistants ride their good horses.
Fredrik Thomsson and Nitely Share NRHA Open Derby Level 2 Championship
Fredrik Thomsson and Nitely tied for the win of the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel Level 2 Open Championship with a score of 218 for owners Patrik and Jenny Jonsson of PJs Invest LLC. The win netted a check for $10,461.
Swedish-born professional Thomsson came to the United States to gain experience and up his horsemanship. He gained a lot more. Now, with a Level 2 Open Derby championship under his belt, Thomsson is mindful of his beginnings and how far he’s transcended his expectations.
“You always want to win, and always want to win at the major events,” Thomsson said. “I came over here from Sweden in 1993 and I didn’t expect this path at all for me. I just kind of fell into it. I was going to come here for three months and planned to spend three months with Bob Loomis, and after the first month, Bob told me he needed a kid like me to work for him. That changed my life right there.
“Being a horse trainer in America, I have already surpassed the goals I had, and everything else is like icing on the cake,” he continued. “But, definitely you always want to win at the major events, so it’s another thing to check off the list for sure.”
Nitely, a 5-year-old stallion by Gunners Special Nite out of Dream Olena Chic, has been with Thomsson since he was 2. He’s a horse that has always shined bright in Thomsson’s barn. The duo started the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel slightly off par but quickly overturned those missteps to redeem themselves when the stakes were high.
“He felt really good all week,” he said. “I had some bobbles in the first go, a big overturn and I botched the last stop a little bit, so today I just wanted to stay really clean with him. He ran in and stopped good, turned really good both ways, and stopped all three at the end really good. He did everything I asked of him today.”
Debbie Brown and Pale Black Moon Share NRHA Open Derby Level 2 Championship
Debbie Brown and Pale Black Moon shared the 6666 NRHA Open Derby Level 2 title from a score of 218 for owner Jennifer Greenleaf, winning $10,461. The 4-year-old mare has been with Brown since the 2020 NRHA Futurity, and they’ve been preparing for the major shows since January.
While Brown was swift to recognize the mare’s talents, she says that went hand-in-hand with figuring out her individual quirks as well.
“She’s been very good. She’s difficult because she doesn’t like horses being close to her, so that is the only thing that makes her hard to prepare,” Brown said. “She’s super good-minded, but she has a really big bubble. It makes it hard to prepare her in the running and stopping. We try to do it when the arena is not crowded.”
That game plan paid off for the duo on Saturday. The mare’s efforts inside the Jim Norick Coliseum impressed Brown and she said she couldn’t have asked for more.
“I thought she was very, very good,” she said. “She ran strong and stopped really well, backed up really freely and straight. She turned really well to the right and probably the best she can to the left. She ran down really pure and stopped really pretty.”
Brown’s main goal was getting through the pattern without any penalties. Brown says the talent in today’s industry is increasingly tough, and even one small bobble can be costly.
“I thought that it would be hard to get through there that hard without any bobbles,” Brown said. “That was my goal was to be really smooth and slow with my hand. She always feels good, so my goal was to get through there without any mistakes.”
Staying patient and treating the mare, who’s by Pale Face Dunnit and out of Blazing In Black, as an individual paid off. Brown said this kind of a win has been a longtime goal of hers, and the magnitude of the win wasn’t lost on her.
“I expect nothing,” Brown said with a laugh. “I’ve been doing enough horse shows to know it takes a special run to get it accomplished. She was a lot of fun to show, so I feel good.”
Franky Vazquez & Whizin Off With Guns Win Open Level 1 & 2 (tie)
Franky Vazquez and Whizin Off With Guns claimed 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel Level 1 Open Championship and shared the Level 2 title with a score of 218 for owner Bethanie Penning. All totaled, the pair won $20,461.
“The last 10 years,” he said of when he set his sights on a goal like winning at the Derby. “I’ve always been there working hard and I’m very happy to be here. I’m very happy that [Bethanie Penning] gave me the horse and gave me the opportunity to be here.”
When Vazquez first started in the industry, he didn’t know a lot about horses, let alone reining. It’s been a long journey to the limelight, and Vazquez says it’s been an enjoyable learning experience.
“I started working for Steve Archer and I worked for him for a couple of years, and he taught me a lot like how to handle a horse from the ground because I didn’t even know how to hold a horse when I started,” Vazquez said. “I worked for Tom McCutcheon. I thank Gunny and Ben and Tom absolutely because they gave me the opportunity to work for them. I’ve also been riding with some friends like Brian Bell, I have to say thank you to Brian Bell.”
Whizin Off With Guns, who’s by Tinker With Guns and out of Whizin Off Sparks, has been with Vazquez for a short time and they’ve overcome many obstacles together, including injury. At a show prior to NRBC Whizin Off With Guns kicked his stall and cut his leg substantially. After proper vet care and plenty of time off, the duo was back in the show pen.
“Bethanie got that horse a couple of months ago, and I got him right before the NRBC,” he said. “He’s been a great horse. We got through a little hard part where he kind of hurt himself. So, we left him at home for a little bit and we gave him three weeks off. He’s a strong horse, really super nice and good-minded.”
Vazquez said after overcoming the injury he’s been continually impressed with Whizin Off With Guns’ talent and mind. Because of his willingness to learn and superb talent, preparation for the Derby was like clockwork.
“Before I came over here, I did the best I could at home, so we were ready before we got here,” he said. “I just keep him quiet and relaxed and made sure he was good for me mentally. He felt great, so I just left him alone. I felt like he was ready.
Lucio Pontes Casalecchi and Xtra Magic Doctor (Shiners Voodoo Dr x Aleena Starlight) finished as the Level 1 Reserve Champions and took fifth in the Level 2, worth $6,592. Xtra Magic Doctor is owned by Janice Laney.
Casey Hinton and Mega Mag—6666 NRHA Derby Open Prime Time
Casey Hinton and Mega Mag (Magnum Chic Dream x Big Gold Chex) turned in a 220.5 to win the Open Derby Prime Time, which was decided during the preliminary round.
The 7-year-old gelding has been a solid partner for Hinton over the years, with success as a 3-year-old futurity horse. His future seems bright, and Hinton is looking forward to making a plan for his future after he turns 8.
“I really don’t ride him that much at a show anymore. He’s older, he’s trained, he’s been honest,” Hinton said. “This year I’d say he’s probably gotten ridden less than he has the other years. He’s pretty honest, he’s pretty fun. He’s been a favorite of ours.”
In the Open Derby Prelims, Mega Mag impressed with smart moves and big stops for Hinton. Ultimately, along with winning the Prime Time also led Hinton, one of NRHA’s newest Million Dollar Owners, to the Open Level 4 Derby Finals from their score of 219 in the Level 4. The duo marked a 217 in the finals for an additional $3,811 in earnings.
“I thought he really tapped off in the turns. He’s a horse that squats a lot and really has a cool turn. So that was a good first impression. The right circle I thought was dead true, right on. Nailed the lead change. The left circle…I’d like to see him be a little more centered for that one,” Hinton said.
Craig Schmersal and Xtra Vintagemahogany—GlycoGuard Novice Horse Open Derby
Craig Schmersal and Xtra Vintagemahogany (A Sparkling Vintage x Custom Mahogany) turned in a 219 to top the GlycoGuard Open Novice Horse Derby, collecting a check for $7,114. Schmersal and the talented mare also placed in the Tamarack Ranch Open Stakes, collecting an additional $1,978.
Schmersal purchased the now-4-year-old mare at the 2020 Derby, and Schmersal’s daughter Addisyn has been taking the reins in 2021. With the addition of 4-year-old-only classes at some major events in 2021, Schmersal decided to show her this year as well.
“It allowed me to show five horses this year. It was nice because I wouldn’t have normally showed that mare, but since she was eligible for the novice derby and the Stakes, I did. It was fun,” Schmersal said. “It was a good deal. I think it’s really nice to have that money to go at,” he said. “Anytime you get a chance to put earnings on you or your horse I think it’s a good deal.
“We intend on keeping that mare for a broodmare, so that’s always nice to have the money on them,” Schmersal continued. “I think she’s a really special mare and I think she’s going to get better and better because I’ve only been riding her since the first of the year. That’s exactly the kind of horse we want in our breeding program because she can go to either division. She’s a huge stopper and huge turner and only four years old, so she’s still going to grow up and get a little stronger. I think it’s just the tip of the iceberg for her.”
Kole Price and Trendsettter—Tamarack Ranch Open Stakes
Seeing the need for a division focused on 4-year-old reining horses, NRHA Corporate Partner Tamarack Ranch chose to sponsor a new division – the $40,000 added Tamarack Ranch Open Stakes.
Decided in the preliminary round of the Open Derby, Kole Price and Trendsettter (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Timed To Shine) topped the division with a score of 222, earning $14,004. The pair also qualified for the Level 4 Open Finals, where the pair’s score of 218.5 netted an additional $4,310.
Price has had Trendsettter since he was a 2-year-old, and from the beginning has recognized his talent inside the arena. The colt stepped up again in Oklahoma City to showcase his talents at the right time for Price.
“He’s one of the most fun horses that I’ve ever trained,” he said. “He’s extremely smart, and his athletic ability is kind of freaky, which also makes him a little tricky to show. I don’t ever feel like I’ve really got him shown to his full ability yet, I’m getting closer, but he’s so much horse.”
Price added, “He is as a big of a stopper as anybody here, so adding another stop in the next finals pattern I think is going to be key to that horse and kind of cleaning up a few things. I was really happy under the circumstances we kind of held it together and showed really good.”
Price was especially happy to see the addition of the Tamarack Ranch Open Stakes, which provided the opportunity to show Trendsettter for even more money.
“I think it gives a whole new twist. Maybe that 4-year-old you would have left at home to give it a little time off, you can show it here and maybe not put as much pressure on it, but still win money,” he said. “I think it’s an incredible step to the future of reining horses.”
Complete results, draws, news and more can be found at NRHADerby.com.
The 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel continued Saturday, June 26, with tough competition in the Adequan® Arena at Oklahoma State Fair Park in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Eduardo Ramirez and Jeweled Out Sweep Rookie 1 & 2
Boasting 87 entries, the Rookie 1 and 2 classes held Friday, June 25, inside the Adequan® Arena flowed into the evening. Awards were presented on Saturday where Eduardo Ramirez was crowned the Rookie 1 & 2 champion. Riding Jeweled Out (Cromed Out Mercedes x Whiz Jewels) Ramirez marked a 147 for the win.
Ramirez and Jeweled Out have been partners for two years and Ramirez says the 10-year-old has been a great mount for him.
“He’s a pretty good horse,” Ramirez said. “He’s pretty easy, he gets a little frightened in the pen, but after the first circle, he’s good. [In the Rookie], the right turn I had a little overturn, and then the left rollback wasn’t the best either, but it was a pretty good run. I was really happy for it and for myself, too.”
Ramirez has been reining for three years and he thanked Luke Gagnon for his support and coaching. Thus far in his rookie career, the 6666 NRHA Derby Rookie win marks his biggest win.
“So far my biggest win is this one. It feels great,” he said.
Finishing second in both Rookie 1 & 2 was Kim Niven riding Cashing Black Chex (Big Chex To Cash x Blazing In Black) with a 145.5.
Terry Saxton and MJG Hollywood Jersey Win Rookie Prime Time
Terry Saxton and MJG Hollywood Jersey claimed the Rookie Prime Time with a 144.5. Saxton didn’t find herself in reining industry through the traditional route, but in fact, spent most of her equine career in a different breed-specific discipline. A surprise Christmas present from her husband seven years ago quickly changed her outlook and future endeavors.
“I had been showing Arabians my whole life and [my husband] knew I was interested in reining and bought me one for a surprise through Ted (Chancey),” Saxton said.
Now, Saxton gets her thrills through big stops and smart maneuvers aboard MJG Hollywood Jersey, a 6-year-old mare by Yellow Jersey out of MJG Hollywood Dry. “Scarlet” has been with Saxton only a short time and they didn’t start out their partnership winning, but quickly made up for it on Friday.
“I bought her in December and I’ve shown her three times prior to this. My very first class, I zeroed every class,” Saxton said with a laugh. “Thank goodness I broke my streak last night. I’m just getting to know her, but I’m super happy with her.”
The mare’s willingness to work and easy-going behavior is one of the things that drew Saxton to her. She’s continued to exhibit those characteristics, which Saxton says helps to calm her in the show pen.
“She does everything calmly and I just love her,” she said. “I tend to get nervous before my classes, so she keeps me calm and she’s nice and relaxed and that helps me a lot.”
Saxton was pleased with her Prime Time win and looks forward to Sunday’s classes, where she plans to stay with the game plan and stay focused and relaxed in her runs.
“[My run] was really smooth,” Saxton said. “She went forward when I asked her, she did everything I asked, so I can’t complain.
Saxton thanked her trainer Ted Chancey of Chancey Farms.
Finishing second in the Rookie Prime Time was Shelley Rosenberger and Thatzwhatshesaid (Gunners Special Nite x A Shining Sidekick) with a 143.
Youth 14-18 Crowns Champs at 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel
Carlee McCutcheon and Lydia Bell shared the win in the Youth 14-18 with scores of 144.5. McCutcheon rode The Wizster while Bell piloted Chics Want My Number to the win.
McCutcheon brought The Wizster out of retirement to compete on this year. The gelding is by Gallo Del Cielo and out of Miss Whizard Jac and was trained and shown as a 3-year-old by Dany Tremblay and then in his derby years shown by McCutcheon’s dad, Tom McCutcheon.
“He’s 11 now, and he was retired for a little bit, but he’s coming out of retirement to let me show him,” Carlee said. “I started showing him at the NRBC in Tulsa last year. He’s taught me a lot. He’s definitely a lot better at this sport than I am, so he makes it really fun.”
While Carlee is an accomplished youth rider, she was quick to admit that having a veteran reiner as her partner has made a big difference in her showing and riding.
“He has definitely made me a little more of a smoother ride because he knows just to turn the corner and go, so you have to be really smooth, otherwise he will get ahead of you,” she said. “Other than that he’s so much fun to ride one that knows what they’re doing.”
Carlee and The Wizster also finished second in the Unrestricted Youth from their score of 144.5. The duo showed earlier in the week in the Non Pro and Carlee was hoping to polish up a few things in the pattern. That strategy proved successful.
“Today he was really good,” she said. “I was just trying to smooth it out a little bit from the Non Pro and make him run past the markers to his stops. He turned and circled good. He was just super honest.”
Lydia Bell and Chics Want My Number aka “Leroy” have been showing together for a few years and have made Bell’s last year in the Youth classes a memorable one.
“He’s a cool horse,” she said. “He’s super fun, I can’t tell you how blessed I am to have him.”
Bell recognizes Leroy as an important key to her success both today and over the years. Among making special winning memories Bell accredits Leroy for making important horsemanship and reining lessons, which have made her a better horseman overall.
“It was really good and really smooth, and just a fun run,” she said. “I’ve learned to sit deep in the saddle, because the deeper I sit the bigger he stops, just because he knows I’m there. He stops big. He’s easy to stop, so he always stops. He’s super cool, but it’s just learning to look pretty while also showing.”
In the fall Bell will be headed to Oklahoma State University where she’s signed with the OSU Equestrian Team.
“I’d like to thank my parents and everybody all of the trainers that have helped me along the way, I’m so grateful for them,” Bell said.
Taylor Bagby and Our Major Nite Top Unrestricted Youth
Taylor Bagby and Our Major Nite won the Unrestricted Youth at the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel. Bagby and “Scarlet” are a brand-new team, with only two weeks together, and turned up the heat in Oklahoma City.
“This is my first show with her,” Bagby said. “She’s come a long way. I’d like to thank my trainer, Bobby Avila. I couldn’t do it without him, but she’s come a long way in two weeks.”
With the recency of their partnership Bagby was just working on staying correct throughout the pattern—a key component trainer Bobby Avila Jr. has been teaching Bagby over the years. In Saturday’s Youth class the duo turned in that smooth, precise run they’ve been working toward.
“She was good, my circles were very correct and smooth, what I needed,” she said. “The stops were good—I need to work on myself a little bit, the turns were good, but she tried her hardest. She’s so fun to stop.”
Bagby found Scarlet after her main mount was injured. Now, the duo has a bright future.
“My horse got hurt and so I was just really on the lookout, and she popped up and we looked at her, she looked great and we thought I could do big things with her.”
Bagby thanked her family, her grandparents and her trainer Bobby Avila Jr.
Kynley Bell and Snap N Go Win Short Stirrup
Kynley Bell and Snap N Go (Master Snapper x Miss Jerry Cat) topped the Short Stirrup with a score of 144.5. Bell has been showing “Toad” for two years and the two have been having fun while putting their best first forward.
“I was really happy with what she did in some parts, but we still need some work on the circles,” she said. “I like that she listens and is very calm and waits for me and doesn’t just take off in the run-downs.”
Bell and Toad share a special bond together, which is seen through their connection in the show pen, but also in the clever nickname Snap N Go has earned over the years.
“She is a sweet mare. Her nickname is Toad because she gains weight easy and it’s really hard to get off. So, all the time she looks like she’s pregnant,” she said with a laugh.
Bell and Toad will try their efforts at another win on Sunday in the Youth and Short Stirrup classes.
The Four Sixes National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel boasted record payouts in every level as well as all-time high entries. Non Pro Champions made their bid for championship honors Friday, June 25 in the Jim Norick Arena at the Oklahoma State Fair Park in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Upping the excitement were the guaranteed Championship payouts, thanks to the new sponsorship from Four Sixes Ranch.
Lane Colston and Lil Ruf Whizkey Win Level 4 & Youth Non Pro Derby
Lane Colston and Lil Ruf Whizkey took home the Non Pro Derby Level 4 and Youth championships with a 221. Thanks to the Four Sixes Ranch guaranteed payouts for this year’s Derby, Colston took home a first-place check for $30,000 and pocketed an additional $2,000 for the youth title.
Already in their young career together, Colston and Cowboy are making big strides in the reining world. With Colston, Lil Ruf Whizkey was the co-reserve Level 4 Non Pro Champion at the 2020 NRHA Futurity, where they also won the Youth Futurity.
“My horse is not the average 4-year-old. He is so strong, and he looked like a 4-year-old this time last year. He is a great horse and has a huge heart,” Colston said. “He’s friendly, nice to be around and so laid back. He’s a little brown gelding, but big things come in small packages.”
Now, the 2021 NRHA Non Pro Derby is his biggest win thus far.
“I don’t think I have taken it all in yet,” he said. “People work their whole lives for this. It’s a dream come true.”
Colston came into the finals prepped and ready with the help of a few veterans in the game. The ascending horseman was quick to note that without help from a team of supporters and a talented horse his success wouldn’t be possible.
“Before I showed in the go-rounds I had Craig Schmersal give me a few tips on him and he gave me a few tips that helped me,” Colston said. “Both Craig and Brandon (Brant) pointed me in the right direction. He was good in the go-round—a 219.5— so we just did the same thing the night before the finals and he was great.”
Lil Ruf Whizkey is by NRHA Million Dollar Sire Whizkey N Diamonds out of Lil Ruf Startime, and the 4-year-old has lifetime earnings of $41,124. Cade McCutcheon helped Colston find Lil Ruf Whizkey and Colston purchased him from Jake Ballard—who was training him for breeder Terry Leffew—in July of 2020. Colston has big plans for the young gelding but is quick to note that this win will be pretty hard to beat.
“It’s pretty hard to beat that. I just want to keep him happy and keep showing him,” he said. “He’s so talented. I may show in Las Vegas at the High Roller. I want to show him the next couple of years. Maybe we will try something a little harder down the road.”
Colston thanked his parents, Kevin and Amy Colston, his horse Lil Ruf Whizkey, Brandon Brant, the McCutcheon family and Abigail Janes as well as the Four Sixes Ranch and all the sponsors of the NRHA Derby.
Jack Medows and Dream On Whiz Win NRHA Non Pro Derby Level 3
Jack Medows and Dream On Whiz took home the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel Level 3 Non Pro championship after marking a 217.5. The duo also tied for fifth in the Level 4 for their efforts inside the Jim Norick Arena on Friday night. Thanks to the guaranteed payouts for the 2021 event, Medows will leave Oklahoma City $27,555 richer.
“It’s amazing. I’m just so happy for this horse. He’s a 4-year-old that we just bought not too long ago. Every day he comes out and tries. We bought him right around NRBC from Samantha Griffin. Martin Larcombe had him, and he did a great job with him,” Medows explained.
Medows, a lifetime earner of $319,827, is continuously impressed with the gelding, who’s by NRHA Seven Million Dollar Sire Magnum Chic Dream and out of Ms Sassy Whiz. Prior to the Derby, Dream On Whiz had lifetime earnings of $10,696 and was nominated by Hill Country Reiners.
“This horse is just phenomenal-minded, and it just comes out,” Medows said. “I think the biggest part of him is his heart. I knew I drew up last in the drag, it got me a little upset because I knew how big of a stopper he is, but he just plowed right through it. That just shows more about him than anything.”
Along with being an accomplished Non Pro competitor, Medows recently graduated from Missouri SMT with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. While his college career took him away from the show pen for a brief time, Medows is excited to get back in the game. He was quick to note that while showing “Patrick” was an enjoyable jump back into competition, he won’t continue showing the colt, but rather pass the reins to his sister.
“We bought him for my sister. With that short time frame, we decided I would show him and she would show him in a couple weeks at the youth world,” he said. “That’s his next big show. She just didn’t feel that comfortable to just hop on. That left him to me, but I’m so excited and happy for her to have this horse.”
Medows main goal for the Non Pro Derby was to get a good feel for the horse and show him to the best of his ability.
“He’s just a show horse,” he said. “He’s going to have a good, long future and that will be good for my sister. He is her horse and I just got lucky enough to steal him.”
Medows thanked his family, Fernando Salgado, and God.
Payton Neiberger and Xtra Dun Step Win NRHA Non Pro Derby Levels 1 & 2
Payton Neiberger and Xtra Dun Step earned her first NRHA Non Pro Derby championship with the Level 1 and Level 2 titles after marking a 217 in Friday’s finals. Coming from an all-around background 2020 was Neiberger’s first year to venture into reining. One year later, Neiberger and her talented equine partner are well on their way to making a name for themselves in the industry. With the wins in Friday’s finals, Neiberger’s lifetime earnings increased by $30,179.
“It took a little bit of time. I showed him for the first time a year ago here at the Derby and it took a minute to get together, but we’ve been good for the past six months or so,” Neiberger said. “It was a combination of things, because I came from the all-around so he was really my first reiner. So, it was just getting to know the reining and I think he was teaching me more than I was teaching him.”
Neiberger thanked her parents and the entire Deary team for the help, support and coaching to get to this win. With her fledgling career in reining beginning to take flight, the Non Pro Derby championship is a special memory for Neiberger.
“My prelims were pretty good for the most part he was right there with me,” she said. “Here today at the finals he was great, there was nothing that I could complain about. It’s been a lot of fun to be here and I’m really happy it paid off.”
Marc Wagman and Best Stops Belle Earn 6666 NRHA Non Pro Derby Masters Championship
Marc Wagman took home the NRHA Non Pro Derby Masters championship after marking a 216.5 aboard Best Stops Belle, who’s by Spooks Gotta Whiz and out of Best Stop—a mare Wagman bred and raised.
“I feel happy that I won something. My mare was being stellar, and I didn’t do her justice, but she still took care of me enough to win the old man’s division,” Wagman said with a laugh.
Wagman and “Belle” marked a 221.5 in the preliminaries of the Non Pro to finish third in the Masters, seventh in the Prime Time, 20th in the Level 2, and 24th in the Level 3, and just missed the cutoff for the Level 4 finals.
In Friday’s Non Pro Finals Wagman and Belle also finished second in the Prime Time, eighth in the Level 2 and 10th in the Level 3, collecting $9,198. Wagman says even while “pilot errors” kept them from qualifying for the Level 4 finals he’s still proud of the efforts of his mare.
“I had a lead change and a spin penalty, or I would have hopefully made it back to the Level 4 finals, which was my goal coming here. Having said that she was really good everywhere other than the pilot error on my part,” Wagman said. “Then in the finals a similar situation, we got stopped decent in the middle, but not nearly what she’s capable of. My first turn again I had a penalty, which bumped me down and she was good everywhere else. I take responsibility for the penalties.”
Still, the 4-year-old mare, trained by Duane Latimer, has an impressive career to look forward to with Wagman and holds a special place in Wagman’s life.
“She is out of a mare that I bred and raised that’s produced three horses by three different studs that have won over $100,000. I think now her progeny earnings are at almost $500,000,” Wagman said. “Duane Latimer trained this mare. He made the Futurity finals on her and told me I could have fun on her this year. I am so appreciative of everything Duane has done for me, not only for my horse, but for me and helping me. He’s been a great friend through thick and thin. This mare stays at XCS Ranch and Gina Schumacher and Ian have been tremendous about welcoming us and letting us stay there.”
Wagman thanked Latimer, XCS Ranches, the NRHA staff, show staff and all involved with putting on the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel.
“The show has been tremendous,” he said. “The unbelievable increase in entries is phenomenal. What a great surprise. It’s a lot of work for a lot of people. I appreciate the staff here they do so much work behind the scenes. I appreciate the sponsors and I appreciate the executive committee and board. Rick Clark has done a tremendous job and I appreciate all the hard work that goes into this event.”
Shaunda Blinzler and Smoke In Whizkey Win NRHA Non Pro Derby Prime Time
Shaunda Rai Blinzler and Smoke In Whizkey took home the NRHA Non Pro Derby Prime Time championship. Their score of 217 also finished twelfth in the Level 4 and was also good for placing in Levels 2 and 3. All totaled, Blinzler will head home with more than $14,423.
While Blinzler admits she had a small bobble in the finals, overall she was proud of her horse for stepping up and showing to his potential throughout the week. In the preliminaries, the duo marked a 218.5 and finished fifth in the Level 4, and first in Levels 3, 2 and Prime Time.
“I wish I could have my preliminary run again. That was a fun run,” she said. “He was really good. I’m excited to keep going because I think there is still more there.”
That run gave the team confidence going into the finals. With the Prime Time title, finishing in the top 20 of the Level 4, eighth in the Level 3 and seventh in the Level 2, was a big accomplishment. As Blinzer has $239,042 in lifetime earnings, she knows how to spot a good one.
“The Level 4 finals were fun,” she said. “To qualify for the Level 4 out of more than 300 horses is really something. He felt really good. He’s one of those that makes you be good because he will do whatever you ask. If you even slightly change what your cure is he’s on it, because he wants to be good for you.”
Smoke In Whizkey is by NRHA Million Dollar Sire Whizkey N Diamonds and out of Suga Suga and has garnered more than $48,000 in lifetime earnings.
Blinzler thanked her team, her husband, and her trainer Cade McCutcheon
The inaugural Story Book Stables Amateur Championship at the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel was decided during the preliminary round of competition. Lauren Love was one of 138 amateurs that took advantage of that opportunity, and she came out on top, piloting Rebelvintage to a 218 for the win.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Love said. “It was a big class, so I just wanted to go in there, have a good run and try to make the Level 4 finals. Winning the Amateur was kind of the cherry on top.”
Love and “Rebel” collected $7,487. In addition to accomplishing their goal of qualifying for the Level 4 Non Pro finals, the pair also qualified for Level 3, and earned $6,632 in the finals. They also took Reserve in the GlycoGuard Novice Horse Non Pro for another $3,112, and placed fourth in the Colston Paving Stakes for an additional $2,829.
Love purchased Rebel, who is by NRHA Two Million Dollar Sire A Sparkling Vintage and out of Wimpys Got Action, last year and picked up almost $4,000 throughout the course of 2020. She hasn’t shown the mare, who was bred and nominated by Linda Lacaille, much in 2021, but since Rebel was eligible for so many divisions at the Derby, she figured it would be worth going.
“She’s a show horse. Every time I go in the show pen with her, I know I can count on her,” Love said, thanking trainer Arnaud Ferret for doing a great job preparing Rebel. “She’s just a fun horse to show. She’s great at circling, and she’s a great stopper. She’s one that you can just sit there and really show off, so that’s always fun.”
Love was grateful to Story Book Stables’ owner Brenda Joyce for sponsoring the Amateur, saying it was a great idea.
“I think Brenda is going to do great things for the industry by offering this,” she said. “This kind of separates the playing field a little bit to where there’s more money added for everybody else that isn’t always maybe in the top five or the top 10 at the major events. It gives more opportunities, which I think is great for the sport and adds a little more diversity.”
Two riders tied for Reserve in the Amateur Derby. Tabitha Sterberg Allen, who was on board Holly Trashya (NRHA Four Million Dollar Sire Gunnatrashya x Hickorys Holly Cee), along with Allana Vernon on Gunnersrufride (NRHA Four Million Dollar Sire Gunners Special Nite x Lil Ruf Showgirl), each marked a 217.5 and collected a check for $3,988.
Holly Trashya was nominated by her breeder, Arcese Quarter Horses USA, and is owned by Francesca Sternberg. Gunnersrufride belongs to White River Ag Products Inc. and was bred and nominated by Richard Vernon.