Oklahoma City, Ok. - Today marked the conclusion of the first go round of open competition at the 2018 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby. The competition was fierce as riders battled to mark a high enough score to qualify for the prestigious Open Derby Finals, which take place Saturday, June 30 in the Jim Norick Arena at Oklahoma State Fair Park.
Marking the top scores of the day were:
A 226 for Jon Sather’s Shining In Town (2013 stallion with $64,293.68 NRHA Lifetime Earnings [LTE]) ridden by NRHA Million Dollar Rider Jason Vanlandingham
A 224 for Quarter Dream SRL’s Sugar Little Step (2012 stallion with $28,941.45 NRHA LTE) ridden by 2018 Level (L)4 NRHA European Open Futurity Champion Gennaro Lendi
A 224 for Rhodes River Ranch’s Tinker With Dreams (2014 stallion with $57,417.79 NRHA LTE) ridden by NRHA Million Dollar Rider Casey Deary
While the competition was impressive, none could top Abby Lengel and Jody Puno’s ARC Gunna Mark Ya’s score of 226 ½ from day one of open competition. Bred and nominated by Arcese Quarter Horses USA, ARC Gunna Mark Ya is by NRHA Million Dollar Sire Gunnatrashya and out of Shiney Miss Marker and helped Lengel claim the top spot in both the L3 and 4. Lengel was quick to say that she was shocked that her score held from day one. “I never expected to have the high score. I just wanted to make the L4 finals. I am still just waiting to wake up from this incredible dream.”
Gabriel Bittar Borges and Checksworthy also marked a high enough score on day one to remain atop the L1 and 2 divisions. Bred, owned and nominated by Terry Leffew, Checksworthy is by Big Chex To Cash and out of Banjoes Shining Star. The duo’s score of 220 ½ was also high enough to qualify them for both the L3 and 4 open finals. Borges also qualified for the L1-3 finals on his own mount, Gotta Shiney Playboy (NRHA Million Dollar Sire Spooks Gotta Whiz x Shining Sage).
Taking the 2018 NRHA Open Prime Time Derby Championship were Mike McEntire and A4L-Equine’s Spooks The Hard Way (NRHA Million Dollar Sire Spooks Gotta Gun x Im So Anson). The 2013 gelding was bred by Silver Spurs Equine and nominated by Michelle Miola and started training with McEntire earlier this year. “I was struggling with him earlier this year, but he has gotten better and has begun to fit me. He is very physical and athletic, and did a lot for me today,” said McEntire, who will also ride Spooks The Hard Way in section two of the open finals.
During the NRHA Derby, the world’s best 4-, 5-, and 6-year-old reining horses and competitors come to Oklahoma City to compete for an estimated total purse and cash prizes of more than $1 million. The weekend features the NRHA Non Pro Derby finals starting at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Friday, June 29 and the NRHA Open Derby finals at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 30. For more information on schedules, live video coverage, hotel accommodations, sponsors and more visit nrhaderby.com.