The qualifiers for the 2013 National Reining Breeders Classic Open finals were decided after two days of grueling competition at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, Texas. The field of 209 was narrowed to only 31 contenders still going for the Championship prize of $75,000.
Leading the pack were Andrea Fappani and Smoking Whiz and Shawn Flarida riding Quistador. Both of the National Reining Horse Association Million Dollar Riders piloted their horses to equal scores of 221.
Fappani rode Smoking Whiz, owned by Silver Spurs Equine, into the arena as draw 161. The former NRBC Champion and the flashy sorrel stallion, by Topsail Whiz and out of Glendas A Smokingun, wowed the crowds and judges with a near-flawless run.
Coming in just four horses later was another former NRBC Champion, Shawn Flarida, riding Quistador, by Conquistador Whiz out of Missin Becky, for Gus and Gaynia Revenberg. After another textbook performance, Fappani and Flarida were tied for the lead.
The high-score tie equaled a big payout - each received a check for $13,420.
Thiago Boechat rode Wimpyneedsacocktail, by Wimpys Little Step out of Seven S Mimosa, to top the Open Level 3 preliminaries. A score of 226 earned Xtra Quarter Horses a check for $4,298.
Yonathon Baruch rode High Roller Whiz to top the Limited Open division preliminaries for owner Stoney Russell. The preliminary finish added $1,689 to the 5-year-old stallion's lifetime earnings. High Roller Whiz is by West Coast Whiz out of Gettin Smart.
Ryan Rushing rode Legend In Texcess to win $575 for the first place finish in the Open Level 1 preliminaries. Legend In Texcess, by Custom Legend and out of Jewels Lil Sparkle, is owned by Connie Lisette LeHocky.
A 221.5 was the magical number in the Open for finals hopefuls, and Intermediate Open riders were shooting for a 220.5. It took a 217.5 to make it back for the Limited Open finals, and the bubble score in the Open Level 1 was a 208.5. All Open Prime Time riders made it back in the Prime Time.
The 2013 NRBC Open Division Finals begin Saturday, April 20, at 11am, with the 31 Open Level 4 finalists competing at 5pm for a chance at the $75,000 first-place paycheck.