The highlight of the NRBC each year is always the Open Classic Finals and this year’s edition was one for the history books as Duane Latimer rode Modern Gun (Gunners Special Nite x Taris Modern Design) to a score of 228 to top the Level 4 and be crowned the NRBC Open Classic champion. The win was Latimer’s first Open Classic title since 2000 when he won the title on Conquistador Whiz. This year he also topped the Prime Time to become the first Level 4 winner to also win the Prime Time.
“It’s been a little while,” Latimer said with a laugh adding that the 5-year-old stallion performed outstandingly. “He was dialed in really, really good today. I was really happy.”
As is custom in the sport camaraderie and the love of the horse shines through above all else and the crowd’s response to Latimer’s run was a prime example of the excitement and appreciation of reining that abounds at NRBC.
“[The crowd was really behind me] – it was awesome!” Latimer said.
Latimer has had Modern Gun since he was a 2-year-old and knows his style well. He said Modern Gun had been showing and schooling well all week, which set him up to push his horse to his full potential.
“My strategy is pretty much always the same – you go in thinking you can do it,” he said. “I didn’t warm him up much or do too much outside, just loped him around and worked on some steering and then went down there stopped and did our deal. I thought I had him up to it, but you never know.”
Duane collected $75,000 for owner MS Stables along with one year’s use of a Deluxe four-horse Trailer from Twin Cities South Trailer Sales, a custom saddle sponsored by Bob’s Saddles, a Gist Silversmiths championship buckle, Anderson Bean boots, Santa Cruz products and an array of other awards and NRBC trophies.
Andrea Fappani and Pedro Baiao each marked a 225.5 to share the reserve cochampionship in the Level 4. Fappani rode Epic Titan (Colonels Smoking Gun x Princess In Diamonds) owned by Clinton Anderson. Baiao rode Michael Garnett’s Spooksgottachicolena (Spooks Gotta Gun x Braz Us). They each received $41,000 for the reserve co-championship.
Baiao Wins Open Classic Level 3
Pedro Baiao earned the Level 3 championship riding Spooksgottachicolena (Spooks Gotta Gun x Braz Us) to win $20,582. Baiao said he got a few words of special instruction from his boss, Martin Muehlstaetter.
“Martin said to me, ‘Pedro, just see how fast he can go,'” Baiao said with a laugh. ” Baiao didn’t disappoint his employer when he and Spooksgottachicolena marked a 225.5 to ultimately win the Level 3 and tie for reserve honors in the Level 4. “He was really good riding out here the whole week and that was my plan,” he said. “I didn’t know it was going to mark that, but my goal was to test his speed.”
The score was Baiao’s highest score of his career, making the NRBC championship an extra special moment.
“I knew after my second circle I was doing good,” he said with a laugh. “I could hear the crowd yelling and stuff. He hit the first stop so good and I knew some good score would come – not 225.5, but a good score. When I heard the 25 I was so excited. It was the best run of my life.”
Nicolazzi Wins Open Classic Level 2
Ricky Nicolazzi guided Spooks Show Time (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Dolittle Lena) to a score of 219 to win the Level 2 and earn $8,128. Nicolazzi has had the 5- year-old gelding, owned by Rancho Oso Rio, since September 2017 and the duo has been progressing well together sharing a highlight win at NRBC.
“I’m very happy about this horse and the winnings, especially for Rancho Oso Rio,” Nicolazzi said. “They always give me good horses to ride, so I’m really happy about it.”
Nicolazzi admits the Texas humidity took a toll on his mount, which resulted in him riding a little more conservatively than he would have liked.
“[My run] felt really good. He was a little tired at the end I couldn’t push him the way I wanted, but he’s not used to the humidity,” he said. “I don’t warm him up a lot, but I could feel I didn’t have as much horse as normal, but he did really good and showed hard.”
Maddox, Dawson and Borges Share Open Classic Level 1 Championship
There was a three-way tie in the Open Classic Level 1 between Benny Maddox, Chris Dawson and Gabriel Borges with scores of 218 to each earn $2,103.
Maddox rode Thebettertohearuwith (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Chex Out The Cowgirl) owned by Bill Coburn.
“It’s been a privilege to ride behind Andrea (Fappani) and get to show [Thebettertohearuwith] his 6-year-old year,” Maddox said.
The win at NRBC is Maddox’ first major championship which makes the NRBC a special memory for him. “My goal was just to have a cleaner run,” Maddox said. “We still had an over-turn, but other than it was really good,” I’m super excited it’s my first major win and my first major finals, so it’s super exciting.”
Dawson rode Shiney Outlaw (Shiners Nickle x Mereyda) owned by Michelle Cannon. Dawson and the 6-year-old stallion have had a big week in Katy, Texas, taking home checks from their first entry and they haven’t slowed down. The duo improved on their Open Classic Prelims performances to share the cochampionship title.
“We had a few bobbles in the go rounds, but he felt outstanding tonight and showed his little heart out,” Dawson said.
Dawson splits his time between the reining pen and the cow horse arena and says he was pleasantly surprised with the week spent at NRBC.
“It’s been awhile since I’ve been back [in reining competition] and I don’t know that this is the show I would have picked, I mean this is the toughest dadgum reining there is so to come out here and hang with these guys it’s an honor and a privilege,” he said.
Borges rode Checksworthy (Big Chex To Cash x Banjoes Shining Star) owned by Terry Leffew. Borges hasn’t had the 4-year-old mare long, having taken over the reins only in January, but the short time hasn’t hindered their performances together.
“Our second show together was here at the NRBC,” Borges said. “She’s pretty solid in her runs and she’s really nice.”
The NRBC was Borges’ first time to compete in the Level 4 finals, which was both a milestone and a learning experience.
“I feel I can get a little more out of her. It’s my first Level 4 finals so I got a little nervous in the turns, so I didn’t nail the marks but she can mark better than that,” he said with a laugh.
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