TGI Playtime, shown by Skip Queen for Carroll’s Cutting,Weatherford, Tex., scored 223 points on Friday, April 4 in Fort Worth, Tex., to claim $37,295 and the NCHA Super Stakes Classic win. Creepy Crawler, shown by Luke Huggins for Buster Quirk, and Short N Smooth, with Jason Clark for Darren Blanton, tied with 222.5 points for reserve; each collected $29,266.
â€śSkip set the pace early on and made everyone come chasing him,â€ť said Clark, who also showed Katz Flash, a go-round leader and the last performer in the 25-horse field, to score 216 points.
TGI Playtime, by One Time Pepto, drew second to work in the first set.
â€śThere were a lot of really good horses and several great horses that could definitely step up and win on any given day,â€ť said Queen. â€śSo it was pretty nerve-wracking to to sit through 23 more horses.
â€śThe mare had been good all week and was definitely on her game tonight. We were able to get good cows cut, in good spots, and they kept the momentum going.â€ť
TGI Playtime tied four other horses, including Katz Flash, with 218 points, the third-highest score in the Semi-Finals. Queen also showed Dirt In Da Skirt, owned by Carroll’s Cutting, to earn the seventh-highest cumulative go-round score (434.5), but was eliminated by a cow in the Semi-Finals.
This was Queen’s fourth NCHA Super Stakes win. His first two wins, in 2006 and 2007, were as a non-pro on Sister CD, who was a 4-year-old in 2006. In 2008, Queen initiated his open career with a win in the Super Stakes Classic, once again riding Sister CD, an all-time leading money earner of $833,214 under his trainer, Paul Hansma, and Skip and his wife, Elizabeth.
Bred by Carroll’s Cutting and trained by Queen, 5-year-old TGI Playtime was open champion at the 2013 The Non-Pro and reserve champion of the 2013 Abilene Spectacular. She also captured reserve titles this year in the NCHA Eastern Nationals and the Augusta Champions Challenge.
â€śHer eye appeal and her stop, those are definitely her strong suits,â€ť said Queen. â€śShe is so athletic and has the style to go with it that she can make points, when she’s not doing a whole lot. Then she canÂ get physical, when she needs to.â€ť
Skip and Elizabeth Queen, who live in Allendale, S.C. and maintain a cutting facility in Weatherford, Tex,, are both members of the NCHA Non-Pro Hall of Fame.
Luke Huggins had one thing on his mind, when he rode eighth to the herd on Creepy Crawler, in the first set.
â€śI didn’t want to disappoint Austin,â€ť said Huggins, 27, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Austin Shepard, who won the 2008 NCHA Super Stakes on High Brow CD, and the 2006 NCHA Super Stakes Classic on Widows Intentions, who like Creepy Crawler, is sired by Widows Freckles.
â€śThat was the best I have ever done (at Will Rogers), but none of it is because of me. It’s Austin. I just caught-rode for him and did what he said to do.â€ť
What Shepard and Huggins’ other helpers told him to do, as his run developed, was to stay hooked to his second cow, which he did, until the the buzzer.
â€śWe cut two cows in the Semis and it worked,â€ť said Huggins, who scored 217 points on Creepy Crawler in the Semi-Finals on Monday, then captured the co-reserve title with him on Thursday, in the John Deere Limited Finals.
â€śAustin won this cutting (with Widows Intentions) on two cows and I thought about that during the run. That was the first horse I ever got ready for him. Cade, Austin’s son, was just a baby, and Stacy (Shepard) couldn’t get the horse’s ready for him, so he asked me. I’ll never forget because I was loping on the wrong lead and Austin had to explain what a lead was to me.â€ť
Six-year-old Creepy Crawler was an open finalist with Shepard this year at the Augusta Futurity, and placed third with Huggins in the 2013 Breeders Invitational Limited Open. Owner Buster Quirk has also placed with the gelding in amateur competition.
Short N Smooth
â€śHe acted semi-colicky, so he spent two days with the vet. But he was bucking when we got him home and his blood work was all fine. He’s a gritty horse.
â€śI knew he was going to be good (in the Finals), but I was really expecting to do better on the other horse.â€ť
Clark had been a leader throughout the go-rounds on Katz Flash, but drew dead last in the Finals, and had tough luck with the cattle.
Short N Smooth, by Smooth As A Cat, was trained by Paul Hansma, who showed him to place fourth in the 2012 NCHA Super Stakes, at the same time that Blanton placed fourth in the Super Stakes Non-Pro with the gelding, who has NCHA earnings of $196,291.
â€śHe’s really electric,â€ť said Clark of Short N Smooth. â€śYou can feel all the way down to the bottom of his feet that he has ahold of a cow and is really anticipating all of the time. â€śHe has so much integrity and is so big-hearted.
â€śHe cuts every time, plus he has a huge stop and is so cowy. There’s nothing he can’t do.â€ť
Clark placed third on Shesa Dirty Martini in the 2012 NCHA Super Stakes, where he also won the Novice division on the Hes A Peptospoonful daughter.