First Ancillary Winners Crowned at 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel

The 6666 National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel is in full swing at the OKC Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. While the aged-event rocks the Jim Norick Coliseum, NRHA-approved classes are held in the Adequan® Arena. The first of the ancillary champions were crowned Friday, setting the bar high for the days to come.

Non Pro & Prime Time Non Pro (1) Champion- Morris Kulmer & NVR What A Lucky Joe

Morris Kulmer and NVR What A Lucky Joe took the first slate of the ancillary Non Pro and Prime Time Non Pro with a score of 145.

NVR What a Lucky Joe, affectionately called Joey, is a 2014 gelding sired by NRHA Two Million Dollar Sire Lil Joe Cash and out of What A Lucky Hit. The gelding, bred by Gary Vickery, is the current highest-earning offspring of Lil Joe Cash, with over $158,000 dollars in lifetime earnings.

Kulmer wasn’t certain he was going to bring ‘Joey’ to the NRHA Derby but ended up bringing him on a whim after a missed run-off resulted in a lower placing at the National Reining Breeders Classic in April.

“I’ve got another horse here that I had hoped would outshine Joey, but I’m not so sure that’s going to happen. He’s setting the bar pretty high with this run,” says Kulmer.

Intermediate Non Pro (1) Champion- Kathleen Armenta & Off N Running

Kathleen Armenta and Off N Running started off the Derby on a strong note, winning the first slate of the ancillary Intermediate Non Pro.

“He’s probably the best horse I’ve ever had,” Armenta remarked. “He’s a great horse. He’s good enough to be in the open.”

The 2015 gelding, sired by NRHA Four Million Dollar Sire Walla Walla Whiz and out of Spook Off Sparks, has earned over $69,000 to date. He was bred by Arcese Quarter Horses and is owned by Armenta Quarter Horses.

The pair also finished second in the Non Pro and the Prime Time Non Pro. “He was really good today. We were a 144.5. It held for a really long time until Morris came in and beat me by half a point. But that’s what happens, so I was really happy with him,” said Armenta.

Limited Non Pro (1) Champion- Adele Cunningham & KB Bucks N Guns

Adele Cunningham and KB Bucks N Guns, owned by Kaylene Cunningham and sired by NRHA 13 Million Dollar Sire Gunner and out of Smart Whizzin Jenny, started the week with a bang winning the NRHA Limited Non Pro class. The 2014 gelding was bred by Koen Brutsaert.

The Oklahoma heat and humidity can make a challenging week for horse and human alike, but Cunningham is focusing on lunging in the mornings and riding at night to keep KB Bucks N Guns legged up and ready for action.

“This run was amazing. He was just a little strong on the run downs, and I could’ve gone a little stronger on my run in, but overall just really good,” Cunningham shared with a smile.

This team won the class with a score of 142.5, with Cunningham giving a special thanks to the Tishman barn, her parents, and her sister for allowing her the opportunity to ride KB Bucks N Guns.

Classic Equine Green Reiner Level 1 & Level 2  (1) Champion- Caroline Nielson & Hot Hollywood Whizky

Caroline Nielson and Hot Hollywood Whizky, a 2012 gelding by NRHA 12 Million Dollar Sire Topsail Whiz out of Hot Hollywood Jewels, won the first slate of the Classic Equine Green Reiner Level 1 and Level 2 with a score of 139.5.

Hot Hollywood Whizky, known around the barn as “Money,” is shown through a partnership between Nielson and Kent Ray Taylor (KRT/MAN LLC). The talented reiner, bred by Turnabout Farm Inc., has earned more than $120,000 in his career.

“On a whim, we were like, let’s just do it. I’d never ridden a reiner before, but it seemed fun, so I figured I should just do it,” Nielson said, beaming.

Although Money has an extensive reining resume, this was only Nielsons third time to be in the pen with him. She took the time to thank her family for their unwavering support, Craig Schmersal, Mandy Faust, and most of all, Money.

For complete results and a competition live stream, visit

Best Shine & Jason Vanlandingham Lead Open Preliminaries at the 6666 NRHA Derby Presented by Markel

The first section of the Open preliminary round of the 2023 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel took place today, with 101 of the 308 Open Derby entries vying for their spot in the finals.

Jason Vanlandingham & Best Shine

The clean-slate Finals will be held on Saturday, June 24, in the Jim Norick Arena of the OKC Fairgrounds. This year’s Finals will be particularly exciting, as the Level 4 Open Champion will take home a check for $100,000- the largest payout in Derby history.

The Level 3 Open Champion will receive $35,000, the Level 2 $20,000, and the Level 1 $10,000.

The Open preliminary rounds will run through Sunday, June 18, with more than 100 entries each day. The current high scores across the divisions of the Open preliminaries are:

Level 4 – Jason Vanlandingham & Best Shine – 227
(Shine Chic Shine x Best Stop)
Owner: Robert Santagata, Breeder & Nominator: Wagman Ranch Inc

Level 3 – Dany Tremblay & All Guns On Crush – 223
(PS Mega Shine Chic x All Guns On Deck)
Owner: Fred Tremblay, Nominator: Adh-Mor Ranch

Level 2 – Gabriel Diano & Gunna Bet My Boon – 220
(Gunnatrashya x Flo N Blu Boon)
Owner: Cabana RT La Aurora, Breeder & Nominator: Alpha Quarter Horses, LLC

Level 1 – Sumer Opinker & Always A Magnum – 216
(Magnum Chic Dream x Always A Dunit)
Owner: Pamela Williams, Breeder: Petska Trinity Equine, LLC, Nominator: Jeffery Petska

The preliminary rounds not only determine who returns to the Jim Norick for the Finals- they also decide the champions of the $110,000-added Tamarack Ranch Open 4-Year-Old Stakes and the $15,000-added Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Novice Horse Open Derby. The winners of these events, along with the Open Prime Time and the American Paint Horse Association’s Open Chrome Cash, will be announced at the conclusion of the preliminary rounds on Sunday. The current leaders for these events are:

Tamarack Ranch Open 4-Year-Old Open Stakes – Cade McCutcheon & Trashya Quik – 223
(Gunnatrashya x Nestle Quik Chic)
Owner: Vaughn Zimmerman, Breeder & Nominator: William Newman, Jr

Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Novice Horse Open Derby – Gennaro Lendi & Stepin Out Gunnin – 221
(Gunnatrashya x Barbies Stepin Out)
Owner: Marc & Kathy Gordon, Breeder & Nominator: Marc Gordon

Open Prime Time: Matthew McDowell & Xtra Voodoo Dr – 221 (includes handicap)
(Shiners Voodoo Dr x Wound Up Wimp)
Owner: Mona Bodaness, Breeder & Nominator: Silver Spurs Equine

Open Chrome Cash: Trevor Elliot Dare & Gangsta Sixtysix – 223.5
(Inferno Sixty Six x Rush N Cat)
Owner: Julio Mora Hernandez, Breeder: Lorenzo Lotti, Nominator: Slide or Die LLC

The top 30 (plus ties) in the Open Levels 4-1 will advance to the clean-slate finals on Saturday, June 24. The draw for the Finals will be decided at the Platinum Performance Open Draw Party on Friday, Saturday 23, at 10 a.m.

For complete results and a competition live stream, visit

Photo by Chelsea Schneider Media.

6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel Begins Tomorrow

Forty-three years ago, the first-ever National Reining Horse Association Derby was held. Then it was called the NRHA Maturity, and over the years, the event has been rehomed, grown, and changed names.

Now known as the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel, the event is the second-largest reining show in the world and has become a must-attend for reining enthusiasts from across the globe. The Open preliminary round begins at 8 a.m. Friday, June 16, with the more than 300 entries divided over the first three days of competition in the historic Jim Norick Coliseum.

There are 158 individual riders representing 13 different countries vying for a coveted spot in the clean-slate Finals on Saturday, June 25, with only the top 30 finishers (plus ties) in Levels 1 – 4 advancing from the first round. There, the Level 4 Open Champion will win, for the first time ever, a Derby Championship check for $100,000! That’s not all, as the Level 3 Open champion will take home $35,000, the Level 2 Open winner will win $20,000, and the Level 1 Open champion will pocket $10,000.

The preliminary round not only decides the finalists but also determines the champions of the $110,000-added Tamarack Ranch Open Stakes and the $15,000-added Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Novice Horse Open Derby.

The competition isn’t limited to just the Norick Coliseum, as the Adequan® Arena hosts two full slates of NRHA-approved classes, with the first slate of the Non Pro and Classic Equine Green Reiner kicking off Friday morning.

Reining fans who can’t make it to Oklahoma City to watch the action in person can still enjoy the live webcast by visiting

The 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel is held June 15 – 25 at the OKC Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. To keep up with the latest news, schedule, and more, visit

6666 NRHA Derby Presented by Markel Payout Predicted to Surpass $1.5 Million

Yes, It’s That Big

The reining industry has experienced incredible growth over the last several years, with major events breaking records with each show.

The 6666 National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel has also ridden the wave of increased interest spawned by the increase in entries and, of course, payout. In fact, this year’s event boasts an incredible $856,000 across the aged and ancillary events and is expected to award more than $1.5 million over the next 12 days.

In 2021, the 6666 Ranch came on as the naming sponsor of the event and cemented guaranteed payouts for the divisions of the Derby. Then, in late 2022, the NRHA Board of Directors voted on an additional elevation of the Level 4 Open and Non Pro Championship payout.

The 2023 6666 Ranch Derby guaranteed payouts to the Champions are:

  • L4 Open – $100,000
  • L3 Open – $35,000
  • L2 Open – $20,000
  • L1 Open – $10,000
  • Prime Time Open – $5,000
  • L4 Non Pro – $50,000
  • L3 Non Pro – $20,000
  • L2 Non Pro – $15,000
  • L1 Non Pro – $5,000
  • Prime Time Non Pro – $5,000
  • Youth Non Pro – $2,000
  • Masters Non Pro – $2,000

In addition to the traditional levels of the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel, there are numerous other opportunities for riders to win money, thanks to the addition of the Novice Horse, Stakes, and Amateur divisions, which are awarded during the preliminary round.

The Stakes, open to 4-year-old horses only, debuted in 2021, and the support of the division was soon evident. Tamarack Ranch sponsored the $40,000-added Level 4 Open Stakes, while Colston Paving Inc. sponsored the $20,000-added Level 4 Non Pro Stakes.

Recognizing the popularity of the 4-year-old Stakes division and to support its longevity, the NRHA Board decided to add an additional $100,000 beginning in 2023, bringing the total added money of the Tamarack Ranch Open Stakes to $110,000 and $50,000 in the Colston Paving Inc. Non Pro.

Gabe Hutchins of Tamarack Ranch noted, “We believe in the welfare and longevity of the horse, and giving those 4-year-old horses another year to finish and get ready will help them in the long run.”

Kevin Colston, Colston Paving Inc. owner, echoed that sentiment, saying, “I think the Stakes at the Derby is great for everyone because our futurity horses will have had time to rest after the Futurity and be ready to roll.”

The NRHA recently announced the official addition of a 4-year-old component to the Nomination program, beginning with 2023 foals. The association has committed to its $100,000 in added money to the Stakes for three years and will continue to contribute $50,000 in added money annually once the 2023 crop is eligible. It is expected that the Stakes divisions will feature $285,000 in added money beginning in 2027.

For more information, read the press release from February here.

NRHA Executive Committee member and former President Rick Clark noted, “We feel that growing the 4-year-old division at the NRHA Derby will give a huge boost to our industry. It will provide more opportunities to owners, breeders, and riders.”

Clark and his brother, Brent, are the naming sponsor of the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Open and Non Pro Novice Horse divisions, which is open to horses who have won less than $10,000 as of May 1. The Open division boasts $15,000 in added money, while the Non Pro features $10,000.

Clark said, “We are honored to be the title sponsor of this event. The novice derby provides a great opportunity, and every time we can add an opportunity, it’s an advantage to owners and exhibitors.”

The Story Book Stables Amateur is rounding out the named divisions with $15,000 in added money. “As always, we want to support the grassroots of the industry and encourage newcomers. We believe that these groups are critical to the health, vitality, and future of the industry,” noted Story Book Stables owner Brenda Joyce.

The 6666 Ranch NRHA Derby presented by Markel is held June 15 – 25 at the OKC Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City, Okla. To keep up with the latest news, schedule, and more, visit 

6666 NRHA Derby Presented by Markel Already Setting Records As Move-In Starts

The 2023 edition of the 6666 National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel kicks off Friday, June 16, with the first section of the Open preliminary round. While the official Derby start is still days away, the OKC Fairgrounds is a hive of activity, as facility and show staff ready for an event that’s already breaking records.

As of noon Tuesday, the total stalls reserved for the event exceed 1,700 – a seven percent jump from the record set in 2022.

“The reining industry has experienced incredible growth in recent years,” noted NRHA Show Manager Cheryl Cody. “Every Derby since 2019 has broken the record set the year before – in number of stalls, entries, and total payout.”

All indications point to a record year again – in each of those categories. “The reining industry is riding a tremendous wave of prosperity, and we expect this Derby to continue that streak,” noted NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter.

“Specifically, the growth in participation at the Derby can be attributed to the increase in purses as well as the additional opportunities to show more horses in the different divisions,” Carpenter added, referencing the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Novice Horse, the Tamarack Ranch Open Stakes, the Colston Paving Non Pro Stakes, and the Story Book Stables Amateur divisions.

Of course, the show’s expansion comes at a time of transformation for the OKC Fairgrounds, as construction has commenced on the new Coliseum that will be completed in 2025. This has led to challenges for all participants attempting to navigate around the work area. The NRHA Events Team released a map to help with move-in.

“We appreciate the patience of our exhibitors in navigating through and around the construction area,” said Cody. “I think there is a sense of excitement as people arrive and see the changes that have already been made in the facility. Our Adequan® Arena and Arena 6 have had facelifts and look so much brighter.”

While construction in the Jim Norick Coliseum has blocked off many areas used for vendor spaces, NRHA Events Vendor Coordinator Bre Colburn said the new layout has provided an opportunity. “The smaller area available for booth space means that we’ve created sections that will be more densely populated with potential customers,” she shared.

Colburn added that there would be plenty of new and returning vendors in 2023, including CS Custom Silver, Cutco, Shine Equine, Haala Denim, Shorty’s, Mystique, Robin Wolf & Susan’s Jelly, Equilume, Ranch Girls, Jewelry Parlour, Just Stitch It, Show Stoppin, GeneTech, Show Girls, Wild Plains, Serna, Star Glow, APHA, NRCHA, Kyle Tack, Express Pony Ranch, Dechra, Hart Trailers, Toyon Ranch, Pastor Mike Seay, Davis Boots, Equine Oasis, Bluebonnet Feeds, Platinum Performance, Markel, Reining Horse Foundation, MS Diamond, Stevenson Show Shine, John Deere, Kiser, Silver Spur, Whistler, Rodeo Carts, Scott Cleaners, Adequan, Superior Saddlery, Ferguson Tack, and Frank’s Shoe Shine.

The 6666 Ranch NRHA Derby presented by Markel is held June 15 – 25 at the OKC Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City, Okla. To keep up with the latest news, schedule, and more, visit