The preliminary rounds are complete at the National Reined Cow Horse Association Jack and Phoebe Cooke Memorial Derby in Paso Robles, Calif. The herd, rein and cow work prelims not only determine who will advance to the clean-slate finals on Saturday, June 14; they also decide the champions in the Open Novice Horse, Level 1 Limited Open, Amateur, and Non Pro Limited divisions.
Twenty-one Open competitors will return for a shot at the Derby Championship; it took a 648 composite to qualify. In the Intermediate Open, 19 riders with scores of 638.5 and above advance to the finals. Seven Limited Open competitors will vie for the title; the bubble score in that division was 636.
The high score in the Open prelims, a 666.5 (219.5 herd/220 rein/227 cow), belonged to Blind Sided (Peptoboonsmal x Lil Miss Shiney Chex x Shining Spark), shown by Jay McLaughlin and owned by Aaron Ranch.
In the Non Pro, 11 riders qualified for the finals, with a minimum score of 631. The Intermediate Non Pro bubble score was also 631, and eight riders advance. The Novice Non Pro competitors needed at least a 625.5, and seven will compete for the Championship on Saturday.
National Reined Cow Horse Association Million Dollar Rider Corey Cushing had high hopes for Mister OMG for the 2013 Snaffle Bit Futurity. Unfortunately, the stallion never had a chance to prove himself as a 3-year-old.
“We had some hoof problems. He had a bad quarter crack and we had to scratch him. I was really looking forward to showing him but I had to do what was best for the horse. I gave him all winter off, got back on him at the beginning of February and started getting him ready to come here. We made this our goal, and so far, it’s been really good,” Cushing said.
The Derby is the first major event for Mister OMG (One Time Pepto x Sallie B Badge x Playboys Badge), who claimed the Open Novice Horse Championship and a spot in Saturday’s Derby Open finals.
“He’s very, very easy to get along with. Here, he had to step it up a little bit and he handled the pressure,” Cushing said.
Mister OMG scored a total 657 (218 herd/220.5 rein/218.5 cow) for the Novice Horse title, which came with a $3,260 check, a Platinum Performance gift certificate, and a cooler tote/gift certificate package from San Juan Ranch/Santa Cruz Animal Health.
Encino, Calif., horseman Dan Daponde piloted Full Throttle Pepnic (Smart Little Pepinic x Peppys Rockin Angel x Peppy San Badger) to the Derby Level 1 Limited Open Championship with a total 636 (207 herd/210.5 rein/218.5 cow). The 2009 gelding is owned by John Scheck.
“Luke” was originally trained by Monica DeBie Caetano. She won the 2012 NRCHA Futurity Limited Open Championship with him, and Daponde purchased him for Scheck at the 2013 NRCHA Stakes.
“He’s been easy. He’s a super nice horse. At first, I was having heck with him. I showed him here at the Derby last year and he got really back-sore, so we didn’t do anything. Then the second time I showed him in Bakersfield, we fell going down the fence. I thought he was a bad luck horse, but then he just started getting better and better,” Daponde said. “Monica did a great job training him. I just try to keep him the same. He’s a kind soul. He doesn’t ‘sort of’ do anything. He’s all in.”
The Championship paid $3,622 and came with a Gist buckle sponsored by TJ and Sandra Neal, and a gift certificate from Platinum Performance.
Full Throttle Pepnic also earned a Derby Limited Open finals berth.
Continuing a NRCHA Premier Event winning streak that began at the 2013 Snaffle Bit Futurity, Nicole Petty, Roseburg, Ore., captured the Derby Non Pro Limited Championship aboard her steady performer, Tangy Chexinic (Tangys Classy Peppy x Buenos Double Oakie x Bueno Chexinic), a 2010 gelding she owns with her husband, Bubba.
Petty’s 641.5 score (211 herd/213.5 rein/217 cow) earned a $1,404 check, a Gist buckle sponsored by TJ and Sandra Neal, and a gift certificate from Platinum Performance. Added money for the Non Pro Limited Derby was provided by Paul Bailey, Kirk Druey, Amanda Gardiner, and Jerry Peters.
Health problems had sidelined Petty from competing for several years. She returned to the NRCHA arena last fall, winning the 2013 Non Pro Limited Snaffle Bit Futurity Championship with Tangy Chexinic. The pair also claimed the 2014 NRCHA Stakes Non Pro Limited Championship in March.
“It’s kind of mind blowing. I’m just happy to be back showing, let alone keep winning. It’s unbelievable,” the mother of three said.
“He worked well for me here. I finally held it together and didn’t feel like I was going to throw up before I walked in the herd. He was really good in his rein work. He drug a hind lead, but other than that, he was good. We had a cow that didn’t want to work at all in our boxing, but he stepped up there and made a 217 out of it.”
Tangy Chexinic is a family favorite, and his biggest fan may be Petty’s son, Noah.
“Whenever I can get him back from my son, I ride him,” Petty said, smiling.
The whole family made the trip to Paso Robles, and Petty particularly thanked her mother-in-law for helping her with the kids while she and her husband were showing. The Pettys had another reason to celebrate; Bubba qualified his horse, Pepinics Lil Outlaw, for the Derby Non Pro and Intermediate Non Pro finals on Saturday.
After a pilot error in the rein work hurt his score and left him at a disadvantage, Parke Greeson, Wolfforth, Texas, knew he had to have a good day down the fence with Checkn Out The Ladys (Im Countin Checks x No Lady Wood x Zack T Wood) to win a paycheck in Paso Robles.
“I left in the wrong lead, and I broke gait, and I had four penalty points per judge. I had some ground to make up, and I was pretty nervous coming into the fence work today, but that horse is a real good horse,” Greeson said.
Checkn Out The Ladys rose to the challenge, earning a 218.5 in the cow work, the second-high score of the round. Greeson’s composite 631 score (213 herd/199.5 rein/218.5 cow) was not only enough to earn the Amateur Championship; he also squeaked into the Non Pro and Intermediate Non Pro finals.
Was he relieved?
“Just a little,” Greeson said, smiling.
For the Amateur Championship, Greeson collected $2,067, a Gist buckle sponsored by TJ and Sandra Neal, a gift certificate from Platinum Performance, and a gift certificate and cooler tote from San Juan Ranch/Santa Cruz Animal Health.
In his first year of showing cow horses, Greeson has enjoyed success at every 2014 NRCHA Premier Event so far – and had a great time in the process.
“I like this show a bunch. It’s my first time to California and my first time coming to the Derby. I like it all. We went golfing the second day we were here. It was fun. The whole year has been outstanding. The people are great. It’s really an inviting experience for anybody,” he said.
Greeson will take some time off from the show arena this fall when he enters a ranch management master’s degree program. When the nine-month course is over, he plans to get back in the saddle in time to show at the 2015 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity.