The 2012 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby featured the $75,000-added Level 4 Non Pro; $55,000-added Level 3 Non Pro; $30,000-added Level 2 Non Pro; $15,000-added Level 1 Non Pro and $5,000-added Prime Time Non Pro division finals on Friday, June 29 at Oklahoma State Fair Park in Oklahoma City, Okla. Out of the original 180 horses and 621 entries, the top 56 horse and rider teams qualified to compete in Friday’s finals. This year’s Derby finals were the richest ever paying approximately $250,000 to owners and nominators.
Jose Vazquez (Markham, Ill.), a veteran NRHA major event finalist, rode into the arena aiming to best Mandy McCutcheon’s of 220 she earned just a few runs earlier on Always Gotyer Gunsup (Gunner x Always A Dunit, owned by McQuay Stables, Inc.). After winning the go-round in the Prime Time Non Pro division and tying for first in the Level 4 Non Pro division riding Moonshine Juice (Smart Like Juice x Wind Her Up Shiner, owned and bred by Smart Like Juice Inc.), everyone knew Vazquez could do just that. They marked a 221 to claim championships in both of those divisions.
For his championship run, Vazquez earned over $17,000, two NRHA Lawson trophies, a $7,500 gift certificate from Twister Trailer, a saddle from Bob’s Custom Saddles, two Montana Silversmiths buckles, a $300 SmartPak gift card, Purina feed, a pair of Rios of Mercedes boots, a pair of Anderson Bean Boots, 19 pounds of Assure Guard, 50 pounds of Platinum Performance CJ, a Classic Equine pad, two pairs of Classic Equine skid boots, a pair of Classic Equine Legacy boots and a $200 gift card from Pard’s Western Shop.
Vazquez ($780,000 NRHA LTE) and Moonshine Juice ($51,000 NRHA LTE) most recently won the Prime Time Non Pro division at the 2012 National Reining Breeders Classic. He also qualified for the finals on Slj Ruf Juice (owned by Smart Like Juice Inc., Smart Like Juice x Ruf Catalyst). They finished sixth in the Level 4 Non Pro division and tied for third in the Prime Time division.
RUBEN PACHECO CUEVAS AND SUGAR CHICS GUNNITT – Level 3 Champions
With less than 10 horses left in the finals, Wynnewood, Oklahoma’s Ruben Pacheco Cuevas ($86,000 NRHA LTE) piloted his Sugar Chics Gunnit (Gunner x Sugar Chics Dunnit) to a score of 220 to tie with McCutcheon for second place in the Level 4 Non Pro division and win first place in the Level 3 Non Pro division. Cuevas and Sugar Chics Gunnit (bred by Jess Moore) were NRHA Derby Level 2 Non Pro Reserve Champions last year. At the 2012 NRHA Derby, they over $20,000, an NRHA Lawson trophy, a $2,500 gift certificate from Twister Trailer, a saddle from Bob’s Custom Saddles, a Montana Silversmiths buckle, a $200 SmartPak gift card, Purina feed, a pair of Rios of Mercedes boots, Assure Guard, Platinum Performance CJ, a Classic Equine pad, a pair of Classic Equine skid boots and a $100 gift card from Pard’s Western Shop.
J. HARPER CONNER AND SPARKLING BELLS – Level 1 and 2 Champions
J. Harper Conner qualified for the NRHA Non Pro Derby finals in four divisions on Sparkling Bells (A Sparkling Vintage x Cowboys Belle Bar, owned by Conner Petra Zeiter). The team marked a 215.5 to clench the Level 1 Non Pro and Level 2 Non Pro divisions. Conner (Dallas, Tex.) and Sparkling Bells also placed fourth in the Level 3 Non Pro division and tied for eleventh in the Level 4 Non Pro division. In total, the team earned more than $19,000, in addition to two NRHA Lawson trophies, a $5,000 gift certificate from Twister Trailer, two saddles from Bob’s Custom Saddles, two Montana Silversmiths buckles, a $400 SmartPak gift card, Purina feed, two pairs of Rios of Mercedes boots, 19 pounds of Assure Guard, 50 pounds of Platinum Performance CJ, two Classic Equine pads, two pairs of Classic Equine skid boots and a $200 gift card from Pard’s Western Shop.
FOR THE LATEST NEWS
For the latest news from the NRHA Derby Show, be sure to follow NRHA on Facebook and Twitter. Score updates, event reminders and video will be posted daily to keep reiners around the world informed as the news develops. Visit nrhaderby.com daily to watch the runs at your convenience 24/7.
The NRHA would like to thank the following Corporate Partners for their support of the NRHA Derby: Adequan, Arenus, Bob’s Custom Saddles, Cinder Lakes Ranch and Reproduction Center, Classic Equine, Darling 888 Ranch, Horse&Rider, John Deere, Kiser Arena Specialists, Markel Insurance Company, Merial, Montana Silversmiths, Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau, Pard’s Western Shop, Platinum Performance, Purina Mills, Quarter Horse News, Rios of Mercedes / Anderson Bean Boot Company, Miller International – Cinch / Cruel Girl, Silver Spurs Equine, SmartPak, Twister Trailer and World Development Group. NRHA also appreciates the contributions of Event Sponsors KO Trading, Sandbur Productions, Scott Cleaners and Shorty’s Caboy Hattery.
* – Estimates based on NRHA Nomination Program and 2011 NRHA Derby entries.