Ricotta Reins in a Million

The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) is proud to announce NRHA Professional Marco Ricotta as the newest NRHA Million Dollar Rider. Originally from Tuscany, Italy, Ricotta joins an elite group of reining professionals who have achieved this milestone in their NRHA career.

Ricotta’s passion for reining began when he would ride a scooter to the barn at 14 years old. That passion led him to become an NRHA Professional, a role in which Ricotta has consistently impressed audiences with his talent and horsemanship. Throughout his career, he has ridden numerous champions and claimed victories across various NRHA divisions.

Ricotta’s impressive resume includes recent success on Savage Love (SG Frozen Enterprize x Miss Whizzletown), a horse that holds special meaning to the Ricotta family. The Ricotta-bred, -owned, and -nominated 2020 stallion is out of a mare nominated and owned by Ricotta’s wife, Jenny. Miss Whizzletown’s NRHA Lifetime Earnings (LTE) of $104,940 were earned exclusively with the Ricottas at the reins.

“I came from Italy, so I was dreaming, and those dreams came true,” said Marco. “To be a little trainer, this means a lot. I say all the time, ‘We got lucky.’ We raised this mare [Miss Whizzletown] from day one, and she was an orphan. We both showed the mare, and we were successful, and she produced some babies, and it all looks like it is working. Overall, they are all show horses and winning, and that doesn’t happen often.”

Savage Love, known as ‘Lucifer’ because he is devilishly handsome, and Marco earned ninth place in the Level (L) 4 Open and third place in the L3 at the 2023 NRHA Futurity. Recently, the pair scored a 225.5 to finish third at the 100X L4 Open Cowtown Classic Stakes to help push Marco over the NRHA Million Dollar Rider mark. His ability to build successful partnerships with the horses he breeds, trains, and competes with, including Savage Love, has been instrumental in his achievements and makes the journey even more meaningful to him.

“With all the prize money coming up lately, becoming a million-dollar rider is something you can achieve quicker than compared to the past. I am old school and achieved it check by check,” said Marco. “With Savage Love, I don’t have the clients to provide me what I need to compete at this level compared to the larger trainers who are overloaded with horses, so we decided to keep him, and it has worked out.”

Throughout his career, Marco’s top finishes are:

  • 2009 NRHA Derby L4 Open Reserve Champion on Hollywoodstinseltown earning $33,848
  • 2009 National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC) L3 Open Champion on Hollywoodstinseltown earning $28,854
  • 2010 NRBC L4 Open fourth place on Hollywoodstinseltown earning $39,000
  • 2017 NRHA Futurity L3 Co-Champion on Shine Plum Shine earning $21,946
  • 2023 NRHA Futurity L4 Open ninth place on Savage Love earning $37,237
  • 2023 NRHA Futurity L3 Open Futurity third place on Savage Love earning $26,190

NRHA congratulates Marco Ricotta on this well-deserved accomplishment. We look forward to seeing his continued success in the reining industry. To learn more about Marco’s trip to the million, check out the September issue of the NRHA Reiner Magazine.

Arcese Quarter Horses USA and Gunnatrashya Simultaneously Cross NRHA Milestones

In a landmark achievement, Arcese Quarter Horses USA has solidified its position as the National Reining Horse Association’s (NRHA) first-ever $3 Million Owner, while their exceptional stallion, Gunnatrashya, has surpassed an impressive $11 Million as an NRHA Sire.

Arcese Quarter Horses USA has been at the forefront of excellence in the reining horse industry, consistently demonstrating a commitment to breeding and promoting top-tier reining horses. This milestone not only reflects the passion and dedication of Eleuterio Arcese and his team but also the quality of his breeding program.

Arcese became the first $2 million owner at the NRHA Futurity ten years ago. Now, they have rewritten history once again after surpassing the $3 million owner mark after a decade of breeding and owning many of reining’s top athletes.

One of the athletes making headlines for Arcese over the years was 2022 NRHA Level (L) 4 Open Futurity Champion, Andiamoe (Gunnatrashya x Wimpys Little Chic). The Arcese-bred and owned mare was destined for greatness with a championship-caliber pedigree and was one of reining’s greatest at the reins. Together, she and NRHA $7 Million Rider Shawn Flarida slid to an impressive 230 score and $350,000 during their open finals run.

Poetically, Arcese Quarter Horses USA’s leading stallion, NRHA Hall of Famer Gunnatrashya, simultaneously crossed a monumental milestone—becoming the fourth $11 Million Sire in NRHA history and the 2023 leading sire with 513 competing offspring, which earned $2.3 million in NRHA LTE (categories 1–12).

The 2006 stallion by Gunner and out of Natrasha was bred by Katarina Dorminy. With an impeccable pedigree and outstanding athleticism, Gunnatrashya was exceptional throughout his career in the show pen, all with Flarida at the reins. Together, they amassed nearly $220,000 in NRHA lifetime earnings (LTE) and championship titles at the 2009 All American Quarter Horse Congress L4 Open Futurity, the 2009 NRHA L4 Open Futurity, and the 2010 NRHA L4 Open Derby.

After retiring from the show pen, the sire has consistently produced offspring that excel at the most prestigious levels of competition. To date, Gunnatrashya has 700 NRHA money-earning offspring that have contributed to his journey to the $11 million.

At the 2023 Futurity, Marc & Kathy Gordon’s Electric Gunn (out of Electric Barbie) and NRHA Million Dollar Rider Gennaro Lendi added more than $50,000 to the sire’s earnings after placing 8th in the L4 Open. This, combined with the 11 other open finalists and 8 non pro finalists, gave Gunnatrashya a monumental push toward this latest historic milestone.

Gunnatrashya’s top five earning progeny include:

  • Gunna Stop (out of Stop Little Sister) owned by Amber Gokey, bred by Toyon Ranch LLC, with $672,762 in NRHA LTE
  • Andiamoe (out of Wimpys Little Chic) owned and bred by Arcese Quarter Horses USA, with $430,302 in NRHA LTE
  • Ten Thirty (out of Dainty Little Step) owned by Rancho El Fortin, bred by Brooke Wharton, with $418,788 in NRHA LTE
  • Super Marioo (out of HA Chic A Tune) owned by Tom and Mandy McCutcheon, bred by Hillis Akin Family Partnership, with $338,891 in NRHA LTE
  • Trash Talkin Spook (out of I Spook) owned by Marilyn Overgaard, bred by Vicki Dias, with $320,085 in NRHA LTE

NRHA is delighted to share the accomplishments of Arcese Quarter Horses USA and their impressive stallion, Gunnatrashya. Their contributions to the sport worldwide have made an irreversible impact that has changed reining for the better. We look forward to their continued success and future endeavors within all aspects of the sport.

Hall of Fame and Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award Nominations Due June 1

The NRHA Hall of Fame is the sport’s most prestigious honor. Induction is awarded to individuals and horses who have profoundly impacted the association and sport through lasting accomplishments and significant contributions.

The Hall of Fame is an official project of the Reining Horse Foundation, and honorees are recognized each year at Sliders’ Night Out presented by Toyon Ranch.

Honorees are presented with a gold Lawson Trophy and medallion as they are recognized with their esteemed NRHA Hall of Fame class. 

NRHA Hall of Fame members gather for a photo at the 2023 Sliders Nite Out presented by Toyon Ranch

NRHA members are encouraged to nominate deserving individuals and horses that meet the criteria for induction.

“We count on our members for their feedback on who they believe should be in the Hall of Fame,” said Hall of Fame Committee Chair and current Director-at-Large Rick Clark.

“Over the years, Sliders Nite Out has grown to be the can’t-miss event of the year, and it is the most fitting venue to honor these incredible people and horses,” Clark continued.

You can read more about the criteria and the nomination process here.

Nominations are also due for the Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award, named after the “Father of modern day reining,” who was also the first inductee into the NRHA Hall of Fame.

The recipient should exemplify the qualities and characteristics of the award’s namesake, with one key difference from the Hall of Fame- they do not have to be a current member of the association.

To read more on the award and the nomination criteria, visit here.

Nominations for both awards can be submitted directly to Liz Kelsey at lkelsey@nrha.com.

Gunners Special Nite Surpasses $7 Million Sire Milestone

The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) is thrilled to announce a monumental achievement for Gunners Special Nite, who has officially become an NRHA $7 Million Dollar Sire. This historic milestone solidifies Gunners Special Nite’s position as one of the most influential sires in reining history and is a testament to his exceptional qualities that are consistently passed on to his offspring.

Bred by Kim and Debra Sloan and raised by Tim and Colleen McQuay, Gunners Special Nite is a flashy sorrel stallion sired by NRHA $13 Million Dollar Sire Colonels Smoking Gun (Gunner) and out of Mifs Doll (by Mifillena). Later purchased by Turnabout Farm Inc., Gunners Special Nite enjoyed a successful show career, earning nearly $220,000 in NRHA lifetime earnings and gold medals in the individual and team competition at the 2010 World Equestrian Games.

However, Gunners Special Nite’s true legacy is cemented through his offspring. His progeny have consistently dominated the reining pen, as showcased earlier this year during the Cactus Reining Classic, where NRHA $2 Million Rider Duane Latimer and CS Especially Moody (out of Judys a Little Moody) rode to championships in both the Open Derby and The Run For A Million Qualifier with an impressive 225.5 score.

Most recently, National Reining Horse Youth Association Northeast Region Delegate, Alea Lasaponara, and Tagin Stiletto Chics (out of Stiletto Tag) helped push Gunners Special Nite past the $7 million mark after earning nearly $16,000 in non pro competition at the National Reining Breeders Classic.

Gunners Special Nite’s top-earning performers include:

  • Modern Gun (out of Taris Modern Design), owned by MS Stables, bred by Turnabout Farm Inc., $362,126 NRHA LTE
  • Guns And Dynamite (out of Chic Olena Starbuck), owned by Tim and MaryBeth Ruckman, bred by Turnabout Farm Inc., $297,756 NRHA LTE
  • Baileys Not Painted (out of Darlins Not Painted), owned by Jenny Booth, bred by Turnabout Farm Inc., $ 147,443 NRHA LTE
  • All Nite Partier (out of Topsail Survivor), owned by Sotol Investments LLC, bred by Deana Nell, $138,592 NRHA LTE
  • Lenas Shining Gun (out of SL Lenas Chick), owned by Jackie Redish, bred by Roxanne Koepsell, $ 135,665 NRHA LTE

With his name now etched in NRHA history as an NRHA $7 Million Dollar Sire, Gunners Special Nite’s impact on the breed transcends generations. Breeders and reining enthusiasts alike can look forward to his influence shaping the future of reining champions for years to come. NRHA extends its heartfelt congratulations to Gunners Special Nite and all those who have contributed to his remarkable journey.

$4 Million Sire: Shiners Voodoo Dr & Jacs Electric Spark

The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) is thrilled to announce that Shiners Voodoo Dr and Jacs Electric Spark have officially joined the elite ranks of NRHA $4 Million Sires. This prestigious achievement is a testament to their progeny’s outstanding quality and performance in NRHA-sanctioned events worldwide.

Shiners Voodoo Dr, affectionately known as “Voodoo,” has been a standout figure in the reining community, known for his exceptional athletic ability, captivating demeanor, and remarkable intelligence. His offspring have carried on his legacy, showcasing incredible talent and earning top honors at competitions, solidifying Voodoo’s impact on the sport.

During his career in the show pen, Voodoo amassed nearly $86,000 in NRHA lifetime earnings (LTE). His biggest win came during the 2012 NRHA Derby with NRHA $2 Million Rider Todd Bergen at the reins. The duo went home with the Level 4 Open Co-Reserve Championship and more than $38,000.

Bred by Rogers Heaven Sent Ranch and owned by Silver Spurs Equine, Shiners Voodoo Dr has sired champions and reserve champions across multiple NRHA categories, contributing significantly to the reining landscape. His influence extends beyond the arena, with offspring consistently exhibiting excellence and competitive spirit. Voodoo’s legacy is not only marked by his own success but also by the success of his progeny, which speaks volumes about the quality and future of reining.

Shiners Voodoo Dr’s top offspring include:

  • Shiner On My Eye (Flashy Lil Step), bred by Empire Ranch, owned by Bob Santagata, earning $191,249 in NRHA LTE
  • Warlocks Last Step (SDP A Lasting Step), bred by Adh-Mor Ranch, owned by Bosque Ranch Performance Horses LLC, earning $105,279 in NRHA LTE
  • Doctor Voodoo (out of Dunit A Lil Ruf), bred by Ann Salmon Anderman, owned by Mike McFarlin, earning $96,363 in NRHA LTE
  • Xtra New Pal Voodoo (out of Wimpys New Pal), bred by Ixtul Quarter Horses LLC, owned by Silver Spurs Equine, earning $81,894 in NRHA LTE
  • Shiners Voodoo (out of BR China Rose), bred by Patricia Creson, owned by V & V Syndicate, earning $75,354 in NRHA LTE

The late Jacs Electric Spark, sired by NRHA $4 Million Sire and Hall of Famer Shining Spark and out of Miss Hello Hollywood, continues to leave his mark on the reining industry through his exceptional offspring.

Jacs Electric Spark, a 1998 stallion bred by Sally Brown, enjoyed a successful show career himself, earning over $85,900 in NRHA LTE with rider NRHA Professional Troy Heikes, who owned the horse along with Sally Brown. Some of his career highlights include being a 2001 NRHA Futurity Open finalist and an NRHA Derby Open finalist multiple times.

Since his passing, Jacs Electric Spark’s influence has only grown. His offspring have consistently excelled in the reining pen, amassing over $4 million in NRHA LTE. Designed To Spark (out of Taris Designer Genes) is one standout descendant catapulting the sire to this milestone. The 9-year-old gelding, bred by Rancho Oso Rio LLC and owned by Arielle Hacking, has over $70,000 in LTE and was the fourth-place finisher in the 2015 NRHA Level 4 Open Futurity with NRHA Leading Rider Andrea Fappani at the reins.

Jacs Electric Sparks’ top progeny include:

  • Electric Code (Hot Coded Candy), bred by Janice Free, owned by Lorenzo Lotti, earning $204,317 in NRHA LTE
  • Ref Black Mamba (Metermaid To Order), bred by Cinder Lakes Ranch, owned by Saw Ranch LLC, earning $121,754 in NRHA LTE
  • Holier Then Thou (out of Slylena), bred by Cam Essick, owned by Nicole McDevitt, earning $120,966 in NRHA LTE
  • Electric Cha Ching (out of Kipper Lady Nic), bred by Haworth Family Partnership Ltd., owned by Silver Spurs Equine, earning $112,494 in NRHA LTE
  • Mr Electric Spark (out of Sailin Rowdy), bred by Sebastien Poncin, owned by Foothills Farm, earning $102,711 in NRHA LTE

NRHA extends its heartfelt congratulations to the owners, breeders, and trainers connected to Shiners Voodoo Dr and Jacs Electric Spark. This achievement underscores the significance of exceptional breeding and training throughout reining, and the contributions to the sport by each of these elite sires will be celebrated for generations to come. We look forward to witnessing the continued success of their progeny in NRHA competitions around the world.