The State Fair Park in Oklahoma City is bustling with activity in preparation for the reining industry’s second-largest event. This year’s 6666 National Reining Horse Association Derby presented by Markel is predicted to break entry records, and the payout should once again exceed $1.3 million.
Move-in for the Derby begins at noon on Tuesday, June 14, but NRHA Show Staff members are already on-site to begin setup for this year’s event. “The Oklahoma State Fair Park staff have been working diligently to ensure the grounds are ready to receive horses on Tuesday,” noted Cheryl Cody, NRHA Events Manager. “This year OSF officials allowed reining exhibitors from the Redbud Spectacular to leave their stall set up in place if they would be in the same location for our event. This is the first time our exhibitors have had this opportunity, and we appreciate OSF for making this happen.”
Ancillary competition begins Wednesday in the Adequan® Arena, then the first section of the Non Pro Derby preliminaries kicks off Friday in the Jim Norick Coliseum, while the first section of the Open starts June 20. Although final entry numbers for the ancillary classes won’t be known until competition ends on Sunday, entries for the aged event alone already exceed the record set in 2021.
The Non Pro Finals will be held Friday, June 24, and the Open championships will be decided during the Finals on Saturday, June 25. Continuing the tradition that started in 2021 with the naming sponsorship from the historic 6666, the champions for all levels of the Open and Non Pro derbies are guaranteed big checks. This year’s Level 4 Open Champion will win $75,000, while the Level 4 Non Pro Champion is guaranteed $30,000.
Other sponsors have sweetened the pot for exhibitors, with special divisions including the Tamarack Ranch Open 4-Year-Old Stakes, the Colston Paving Inc. Non Pro 4-Year-Old Stakes, the Story Book Stables Amateur, and the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Open and Non Pro Novice Horse Derbies.
Beginning with this year’s Derby, entry fees for all ancillary rookie classes have been paid by NRHA Global Event Partner Toyon Ranch. That means that rookie competitors in both slates of classes do not have to pay entry or judges fees. Another exciting addition is The Run For A Million Non Pro and Rookie qualifiers, which will be held in both slates of ancillary classes. The top five in each slate will earn a spot in their respective classes at this year’s The Run For A Million in Las Vegas.
Special events at the NRHA Derby are highlighted by the $20,000 NRHA Invitational Freestyle Reining presented by the Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau which will be held on Thursday, June 23, at 6 p.m. At 4 p.m. that same day, reining fans will get the exciting opportunity to meet and mingle with 2021 NRHA Derby Level 4 Open Champion Jerseys Baby Driver during the Hercules Kids’ Reception. The reception, which will include photos with the champion, hors d’oeuvres, and more, will be held in the Super Barn warmup arena.
Other special events include the Platinum Performance Welcome Party featuring Reiners Rope benefiting the Reining Horse Foundation, the Platinum Performance Non Pro and Open Draws, the Rider’s meeting, the NRHA Buckle Ceremony, the Markel Ice Cream Social, the NRHyA Dance and the CINCH Youth Gathering, and Cowboy Church. A complete schedule can be found at NRHADerby.com/schedule
There are several ways to follow along with the excitement of this year’s Derby. The live webcast, as well as live scoring, can be accessed on the website at NRHADerby.com. Receive text alerts regarding schedule updates or events here. NRHA Official social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram will be regularly updated not only with up-to-date news but also with additional photos and fun facts.