The 2021 6666® NRHA Derby presented by Markel will be the largest in history in terms of Derby entries. That’s great news; however, with 303 Non Pro and 265 Open entries in the draw, the event will present some logistical challenges.
The increased numbers were a last-minute turn-around that it is thought to be the result of the myriad of new incentives for riders that came from soaring sponsor support. The Four Sixes Ranch’s guaranteed championship payments in all levels are a factor, as are the opportunities presented by the Story Book Stables Amateur Derby, the Tamarack Ranch Open Stakes, the Colston Paving Inc. Non Pro Stakes, and the GlycoGuard Novice Horse Non Pro and Open Derbies.
It seems that, for many exhibitors, the decision to enter was made at the eleventh hour. NRHA Events Manager Cheryl Cody explained, “The week before draw, we were substantially down in entries. They were so much lower than expected that I had taken my concerns to NRHA management. We were nearly 50 horses off the 2019 numbers, and even more from the 2020 totals. The deadline to be in the draw was Tuesday, June 1, the day after Memorial Day. From Friday evening, May 28, until midnight on June 1, we received more than 200 late Derby entries, as well as a staggering number of horse show entries!”
In checking the NRHA’s historic records, this volume of last-minute entries is unprecedented. Cody continued, “That increase, along with the anticipated accompanying ancillary entries, will make for long days for exhibitors. We have already taken steps to add a day to the show beginning in 2022. Unfortunately for this year, we will have to manage as best we can, because people have already made travel and vacation arrangements.”
NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter is looking forward to the historic event. “We are thrilled to have incredible sponsors whose support has brought us to this level. The funds they have brought in have been spread across so many divisions, benefiting all our exhibitors,” he said. “The explosive growth in our entry numbers this year have far outpaced the available dates. We have adjusted where we could this year, and plan to add another day to the schedule in 2022. We ask everyone for their patience and flexibility this year as we navigate through a record-setting, extraordinary event.”
The 2021 schedule has been modified with changes in start times and in locations for some classes as well as an amended entry deadline and schedule for the AQHA Open Class. Be sure to check the schedule and entry forms online at NRHADerby.com for complete details.