Non Pro Champions Crowned at 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel

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

Lauren Love Powers to Inaugural Story Book Stables Amateur Win at 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel

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.

Ancillary Competition Continues at the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel

During the first section of the Green Reiner competition at the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel competition heated up in the Adequan® Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The second slate of the Novice Horse Open classes went well into the night, and awards were presented the next day.

Natalie Vargo and Surpized — Green Reiner Levels 1&2

Natalie Vargo and Surpized (Hang Ten Surprize x Snow White Dun It) swept the Green Reiner Levels 1&2 with a 144.5. The talented reiner was first shown as an open horse and there was no denying his talents in Friday’s Green Reiner class, even though it was the first show for Vargo and Surprized together as a team.
“I haven’t been showing in the reining that much and it was the first time I ever showed him so I was kind of taken aback,” Vargo said with a laugh. “I didn’t know how it was going to go, because I’ve never shown him before and I knew I was going to go for it.”
Vargo’s family has owned the now-5-year-old since he was 2 and throughout his open career. When Vargo needed a horse to take to the reining shows this year Surprized got the call and it proved fruitful at their first show together.
“I’ve only ridden him a handful of times,” she said. “He’s been pretty easy to get with, he was an open horse, so he’s a little high strung and he’s very talented so it took me a second to get in a groove, but after that, it’s been pretty easy.”
Natalie Ellis and Xtra Sparkles N Town marked a 141 to take second place in the Green Reiner Level 1. Raegan Shepherd and Shining Spook Dancer marked a 143 to finish second in the Green Reiner Level 2.

Tate Wynn and Im A Dun It Twist — Para Reining

Tate Wynn and Im A Dun It Twist (Hollywood Dun It x Miss Boo Twist) earned the Para Reining win with a score of 134. The duo have been partners for about a year, but Wynn said the 16-year-old home-raised reiner got his chance to shine in the show pen this year. While it wasn’t a quick road to success, Wynn saw promise in his equine partner.
 “We never thought he had the potential to show, but after some consideration we thought that he might, so we gave him a chance,” Wynn said.
A month ago, Im A Dun It Twist got his opportunity to prove himself in the arena and demonstrated his abilities well, which gave them confidence coming into the NRHA Derby.
“That was mainly the test for him to see if he was ready and this one he was ready,” he said. “The run felt pretty good, he’s a little hyper, but that’s normal for him.”

Bobby Avila Jr. and Dreaming Of Guns – Novice Horse Open

Bobby Avila Jr. and Dreaming Of Guns (Magnum Chic Dream x HH Steady Gun) swept the Novice Horse Open Levels 1, 2 & 3 with a 146.5 for owners Richard Louis Nelson.
“She prepared really well, she went out there and was real focused,” Avila said. “This is our fifth run in row that we’ve marked 73.5 on her in a row, so she’s been getting really solid and consistent.”
Avila said the mare has progressively improved after each show they’ve been to together and is showing persistent talent in the show pen. 
“We’ve been to two shows in a row back-to-back, and then I took her and turned her out for a couple of weeks,” he said. “Not really turned her out in the pasture, but where during the day she could have a grass lot turn out, swish the flies and freshen up and it was really good for her. She came here to this show and the owner asked me how she felt and I said ‘She just feels better. She just feels more athletic.’” 
Todd Crawford and Whizkeybenthellbound (Whizkey N Diamonds x Desire A Chic) also shared the win in the Novice Horse Open Level 3 with a 146.5 for owners MC Performance Horses.

Open Finalists Decided for 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel

The Open preliminary round of the 2021 6666 National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel is in the books. The Derby has seen record payouts for Levels 4 through Level 1, Open Prime Time and the Level 4 Open Novice Horse. The Level 4 also saw record entries with 253, surpassing the previous record of 238 set in 2018. Levels 3 through 1 also saw high entries coming close to record numbers. Total entries across all levels and classes reached 2,059 and total payout of $1,238,449.

The large field of competitors were narrowed down to the top 30 in the Open Levels 4, 3, 2, and 1. Those entries advanced to the clean-slate finals, which will be held Saturday, June 26. The Open preliminaries also decided the champions of the Open Prime Time, the GlycoGuard Novice Horse Open Derby, and the inaugural Tamarack Ranch Open Stakes.

Unofficially the bubble for advancing to the finals were:
Level 4 – 218.5
Level 3 – 215.5
Level 2 – 212
Level 1 – 206

Winning each division of the Open preliminaries were:

  • Level 4 – Dany Tremblay & Tinker With Dreams (Tinker With Guns x This Chicsdundreamin) – 224
  • Level 3 – Justin Mathison & Shes Reddy On Line (Shine On Line x Guns R Reddy) – 222.5
  • Level 2 & 1– Franky Vazquz & Whizin Off With Guns (Tinker With Guns x Whizin Off Sparks) – 217
  • Open Prime Time – Casey Hinton & Mega Mag (Magnum Chic Dream x Big Gold Chex) – 220.5
  • GlycoGuard Novice Horse Open Derby – Craig Schmersal & Xtra Vintagemahogany (A Sparkling Vintage x Custom Mahogany) – 219
  • Tamarack Ranch Reiners Open Stakes – Kole Price & Trendsettter (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Timed To Shine) – 222

The draw for the Open finals was held during the Platinum Performance Virtual Open Draw Party. Jenny Redig of Platinum Performance, Frank Costantini of Markel Insurance, and NRHA President Rick Clark were on hand to help with the draw.

Complete results, draws, news and more can be found at

Novice Horse Non Pro Competition

The 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel is in full swing and ancillary classes are heating up in the Adequan Arena at the Oklahoma State Fair Park.  Champions were crowned and high point winners recognized on Thursday.

Three-Way Tie for Novice Horse Non Pro Level 1

Lisa Bricker

Lisa Bricker and Lotta Mobster, Brianna Anthony and Boujee, and William Clutter and Shiney Spooky Whiz shared the win in the Novice Horse Non Pro Level 1 with scores of 144.

Bricker also took home the Level 1 high point title added to her success at the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel. Lotta Mobster (HF Mobster x Alottachic N Lilwhiz) aka “Kevin” and Bricker have only been partners for about a year but have been proving themselves in Oklahoma City after taking home a win in Sunday’s first slate of the Novice Horse Non Pro.

“He was really good today,” she said. “We went in and started off with our circles, which are really fun to start off on him, just because he really lets you guide him through them and he really locks in on them, so it’s fun to start off with his circles. He’s always really focused going into his spins, and he always stops really hard, so it’s fun to run him down and stop him.”

Brianna Anthony

Anthony and Boujee have been partners for about a year after trying the 4-year-old mare out at the 2020 NRHA Derby. Boujee is by $6 Millon Dollar Sire Magnum Chic Dream and out of Chexanicki.

“It’s taken me a little while to get with her. We kind of had a rocky futurity year last year and we actually just went in this class to try to put something together and it all worked for us,” Anthony said. “It’s nice to be able to go home on a win.”

Also tying for the win was William Clutter and Shiney Spooky Whiz (Smart And Shiney x Spooky Whizabella x Smart Spook) in the Novice Horse Non Pro with a score of 144.

Jesse Asmussen and The Crowd Goes Wildd Win Novice Horse Non Pro Levels 2 & 3; Kyla Thrulow Wins High Point

Jesse Asmussen

Jesse Asmussen and The Crowd Goes Wildd (Not Ruf At All x Check Your Gun Lady x Dun It Gotta Gun) topped the Novice Horse Non Pro Levels 2&3 with a score of 146.5. Asmussen and The Crowd Goes Wildd have had a good season so far beginning with last year’s NRHA Futurity and moving into 2021. Asmussen admits the Novice Horse Non Pro win was redemption for them this week.

“She was really good, I had some bobbles in the Derby, so I showed her in the Non Pro and I had another bobble and I was like ‘Man, I have to get my act together,’” he said with a laugh. “So I showed her in the Novice and she was really good. I finally got shown clean with no penalties. It will make the trip going home a little bit better.”

Kyla Thurlow

Finishing second in the Level 2 and Level 3 was Kyla Thurlow and Kachina Olena Tag with a score of 146. Thurlow also claimed the Levels 2&3 high point award. Thurlow and the now-8-year-old gelding have been partners since his 4-year-old year and Thurlow says “Facebook” continues to impress.

“He’s a show horse through and through. He’s always there for me. His bad day is another horse’s good day,” Thurlow said. “This is a long pattern for a lazy horse, but he was with me everywhere today. I hit a little bit of bad ground on my second stop, but he was wonderful today. I couldn’t ask any more of him.”

Tristan Bagby Wins Non Pro High Point 

Tristan Bagby

Tristan Bagby and Shina Gun (Colonels Smoking Gun x Shiner Light) earned the ancillary Non Pro High Point award. Bagby said the win was memorable because of her connection and history with the 8-year-old stallion. 

“We raised him, so we’ve had him since he was a baby and he’s so special to our family,” Bagby said. “So, it was cool to get the high point on him.”

Bagby had a consistent showing at the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel in order to gain top honors in the high point, but she admits it’s been a long road to consistency with Shina Gun. With that in mind, Bagby didn’t come into Oklahoma City with any expectations but was thrilled with the results and her equine partner. 

“He’s been difficult, it’s taken me a long time to finally figure him out, but now that I have he’s been really good for me,” she said. “We’ve got some things we still need to work on, but he was still pretty consistent in order to win the high point.”