1986 Super Stakes: Delta Flyer scores two firsts

Friday, April 24th, 2020

Super Stakes History Spotlight

1986 Super Stakes: Delta Flyer scores two firsts

Delta Flyer, ridden by Kenny Patterson.

Delta Flyer, shown by Kenny Patterson, became the first registered American Paint Horse to win a major NCHA limited age event, when he scored 220.5 points to claim the 1986 NCHA Super Stakes championship and $170,004. Miss Silver Pistol, under Tom Lyons, and Especial Quixote, with John Tolbert, tied as reserve champions with 218.5 points, while Playboys Madera, winner of the second go-round with 220 points under Terry Riddle, placed fourth with 218.

Delta Flyer was also the first cutting horse purchased by Floyd Moore, a Hunstville, Texas, cattle auction owner. Moore had been supplying NCHA with cutting cattle for almost a decade before he took the plunge and asked for Patterson’s help in selecting a cutting prospect.

“Kenny told me that he had showed his mother and she was the best horse he ever rode.” said Moore of Delta Flyer. “So I bought him from Lynn Anderson. I think I gave eighty or eighty-five thousand for him, as a two-year-old stud.”

Grammy Award-winning country star Lynn Anderson bred Delta Flyer out of Delta, a 1963 bay tobiano mare she had received as a wedding present in 1978, from her second husband, Harold “Spook” Stream. Both Anderson and Stream were horse owners before their marriage. Stream later owned Taris Catalyst, the 1982 NCHA Futurity Open reserve champion, and bred Grays Starlight, an all-time Top 20 leading sire.

 Bred by W.S. McKowen, of Jackson, La., and owned by George Price, Kingston Springs, Tenn., Delta had been shown by Bobby Brown as 1973 NCHA Reserve World Champion and winner of the 1974 NCHA World Finals. She had also placed fifth in the 1977 NCHA World standings with Kenny Patterson.

“She was already trained and a finished cutting horse when I bought her,” said Price, who acquired Delta in 1972 from Wylie C. Barrow, a dentist from Baton Rouge, La. At the time, Barrow had been showing Delta successfully in regional open and non-pro competition. “Oh, man, she could just sweep the ground. Twelve hundred dollars was a lot of money back then, but Dr. Barrow said that’s what it would take to buy her, so I gave it.

“I made some money off of her and, if I’d any sense, I would have kept her. But I thought too much of Lynn Anderson and Spook and let them get away with her. They kept her for a while, until the newness wore off, and she’d had a colt or two. Then they sold her to a man in Texas.”

The “man in Texas” was Floyd Moore, who had purchased the Peppy San Badger son Delta Flyer from Anderson in 1984. “A year or two after I bought Delta Flyer, Kenny (Patterson) called me and said, Lynn wants to sell old Delta and she’s bred to Doc O’Lena,” Moore explained. That baby was Delta Olena, a stud I kept until he died, and that’s when I got started in the Paint business.”

From 13 lifetime crops, Delta Flyer sired 30 NCHA, NRHA and NRCHA earners of $123,529, in addition to numerous APHA champions and all-around money earners.

Today the 1986 NCHA Super Stakes also stands out because of three female finalists who would have a lasting effect on cutting beyond their Will Rogers performances:

Super Stakes reserve co-champion Miss Silver Pistol $500,876, a crowd favorite coming into the show, following her NCHA Futurity Non-Pro championship win under Wes Shahan, is the dam of Playgun LTE $168,408, a leading sire of the earners of nearly $9 million, including Playin Tag LTE $220,949, winner of the 2004 NCHA Super Stakes with Cara Barry and maternal granddam of Hashtags LTE $476,725, winner of the 2017 NCHA Super Stakes under Tatum Rice.

Miss Silver Pistol is also the dam of Smart Little Pistol, sire of earners of over $2.3 million, including Chiquita Pistol LTE $545,001, shown by Tag Rice. To date, Chiquita Pistol is one of only three horses, and the only mare, to win the NCHA Triple Crown.

 Laney Doc LTE $221,332, shown by Bill Riddle, would become, under the ownership of EE Ranches, a leading dam of money earners, currently ranked #7 among NCHA All-Time leading producers. Laney Doc’s son, Cat Ichi LTE $238,691, shown by Guy Woods, won the 2004 NCHA Derby and was reserve champion of the NCHA Super Stakes. Cat Ichi is also a leading sire with earners of over $6.4 million, including Ichis My Choice LTE $218,693, shown by Grant Setnicka as 2016 NCHA Open Horse of the Year, and Saguaro Ichi LTE $293,796, shown by Constance Jaeggi, also owner of Ichis My Choice, as 2014 NCHA Non-Pro Horse of the Year.

Playboys Madera LTE $409,761, shown by Terry Riddle, would produce Playboy McCrae LTE $263,723, a gelding bred by Kay Floyd and winner of the 1996 NCHA Futurity under Paul Hansma. In addition, Floyd would win the 1988 NCHA Non-Pro World Championship riding the Freckles Playboy daughter.

1985 Super Stakes Triumvirate

Saturday, April 18th, 2020

Super Stakes History Spotlight

1985 Super Stakes Triumvirate

On the heels of back-to-back years, when NCHA Futurity Open champions Smart Little Lena and Docs Okie Quixote claimed the NCHA Super Stakes, Derby and Triple Crown, there were high hopes in the 1985 Super Stakes for 1984 NCHA Futurity champion Doc Per. And the flashy little stallion did not disappoint. Nor did the eye-catching palomino mare Boons Sierra, who had tied Lynx Star Lady as co-reserve champion of the Futurity.

Doc Per, ridden by Ronnie Nettles.

In a thrilling 22-horse finals that included seven NCHA Futurity finalists, Doc Per, shown by Ronnie Nettles; Boons Sierra, ridden by John Tolbert; and Sonitas Joy, under Willie Richardson, scored 218.5 points in an unprecedented 3-way tie.

Owned and bred by Roy Hull, Jewett, Tex., and trained and shown by Ronnie Nettles, Doc Per came through the Futurity go-rounds and semi-finals with solid, if unremarkable, scores. But the sorrel colt had an electrifying style and was a crowd favorite from the start.

“He was kind of a showman and one of those horses that gets pumped up by the crowd,” noted Nettles. “In the semi-finals, they started hollering before we even got to the herd. And when he started to get down on a cow before I even got him out of the herd, I was concerned. I knew that in the finals, I would really have to keep him contained, until I got a cow cut.”

Doc Per drew next-to-last in the finals and before he finished working his second cow, the crowd was on its feet. When his score of 218.5 points was posted, cheers drowned out the announcer’s voice.

“That was the first time they ever had a standing ovation in the Futurity,” said Nettles. “It was an exhilarating feeling, but you try not to let it affect what you’re doing with the horse.”

Roy Hull also owned Doc Per’s sire, Personality Doc., who was trained by Nettles and shown to place fifth in the NCHA World standings. Nettie Buck, Doc Per’s dam, was a product of foundation ranch breeding, and produced one other money earner, Personaltys Babe, with $252, a full sister to Doc Per.

As talented and popular as he was as a show horse, Doc Per was not prolific in the breeding arena. In 18 crops (his last crop was in 2007), he sired 170 foals, including 16 NCHA money earners. His top earner was Doc Pers Dodger, with $90,545; followed by 1991 NCHA Derby champion Dixiland Docs Per, with $45,101; and then Red Per Lena, with $14,237. Personality Doc with 11 NCHA money winners fared no better than his famous son.

Sonita’s Joy, owned by Herman Bennett, Brownwood, Tex., came to the NCHA Super Stakes from a sixth-place finish in the NCHA Futurity. Richardson had trained the Sonita’s Last daughter from the beginning and said, “She is probably the best horse I ever rode. She tried real hard, and had a lot of class. It was important to her to hold a cow.”

Following the Super Stakes co-championship win, Bennett sold Sonitas Joy to John Gerhart, and Richardson continued to show her. The pair went on to among the top ten finalists of four more 1985 limited age events, including the NCHA Derby, the NCHA Breeders Cutting, and a  win in the Texas Futurity. When Gerhart retired her, with $260,574 in earnings, in 1986, Richardson convinced him that Sonitas Joy should be bred to leading sire Doc O’Lena.

It was a fortuitous cross, as Sonitalena, who would become the 1996 NCHA World Champion under Richardson, was the result.

“It’s pretty tough to talk a banker into loaning you money to buy a cutting horse,” said Richardson, who had been offered the opportunity to purchase the stallion in 1990 “It was pretty scary, but I just knew this colt had to be a special horse. They did loan us the money, and after we bought him, Sonitalena owed me money for quite a while. But now I owe him.”

Sonitalena, who died in 2019 at 32, retired with career earnings of $188,876 and has sired 87 NCHA earners of $850,215.

Boons Sierra, by Boon Bar, was bred by Tom McGuane, McLeod, Mont. Her dam, Portia, was a buckskin ranch bred mare, whose sire, Sierra Buck, traced back to Pretty Buck, sire of 1953 NCHA Open World Champion Snipper W.

Larry Hall, owner of Royal Blue Boon, the Boon Bar daughter who split a 3-way tie for the 1984 Super Stakes reserve championship, had purchased Boons Sierra at two and put her in training with Tolbert. In addition to the NCHA Futurity co-reserve championship and Super Stakes co-championship, Tolbert who also showed the palomino mare to place third in the 1985 NCHA Breeders Cutting, while Hall placed fourth with her in the non-pro division of the 1986 Tropicana Cutting Spectacular.

Boons Sierra retired from the show arena with earnings of $315,512, and in 1999, Hall sold her to Atwood Quarter Horses. During her breeding career she produced four NCHA money earners of $82,620, including AR Boon River LTE $72,663, a 1996 gelding by Powder River Playboy.

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

Super Stakes History Spotlight

Docs Okie Quixote: 1984 Super Stakes winner and Triple Crown champion

Joe Heim on Docs Okie Quixote.

While 1982 champion Smart Little Lena commanded attention from the first go-round of the NCHA Futurity, Docs Okie Quixote, shown by his owner, Joe Heim, went through the 1983 NCHA Futurity preliminaries under the radar. The Doc Quixote colt marked back-to-back go-round scores of 216, and just barely qualified for the finals on-the-bubble, with 214.5 points in the semi-finals.

 But the gritty sorrel rose to the occasion in the Futurity Finals, where he scored 219 points for the win, and became the only candidate for that season’s Triple Crown.

“He was a small horse and worked with a low profile, with his head and body low,” said Heim. “And he was real intelligent and cow-smart. When we went to the Futurity, he had a lot of maturity about him.”

Joe Heim was 28 in 1977, the first time he qualified for the Futurity finals, and wound up as reserve champion, by one-half point, on Doc’s Serendipity to champion Peppy San Badger and Buster Welch. In the 1980 Futurty, Heim won the semi-finals with 224 points on Miss Daube Ritz and tied for fifth in the finals. Then, in 1981, he captured his first Futurity championship on Colonel Lil, owned by W.D. Wood.

Nevertheless, the 1983 win, worth $263,483, was a special one for Heim. His wife Joice had bred and raised Docs Okie Quixote, born one month after the Heims moved from California to Thackerville, Okla. “Joice chose the name Okie for that reason,” said Joe, who owned a breeding to Doc Quixote.

The 1984 Super Stakes carried a record purse of over $1.8 million and Docs Okie Quixote was the shutout winner, with 222 points over a 216.5-point three-way tie for the reserve championship between Royal Blue Boon, with Larry Reeder; Sir Royal Lynx, with Tom Bellamy; and Circle Doc, with Don Pooley.

Going into the NCHA Derby Heim had no doubt that, with a square shot and barring unforeseen circumstances, Docs Okie Quixote was capable of the win. “Anytime I make the finals in a major event, I feel fortunate,” said Heim.“My attitude was that I was just going to go down and put together a good ride and hope I’d get marked.”

With a 221.5-point win in the Derby Finals, where reserve champion Gold Bar Doc earned 217.5 points, Docs Okie Quixote became the NCHA Triple Crown champion and an NCHA leading money earner with $599,109. The fact that his feat followed on the heels of the first Triple Crown champion, Smart Little Lena, might have led some to expect frequent Triple Crown sweeps from NCHA Futurity champions, but it would be two decades before Chiquita Pistol, in 2003, would capture another Triple Crown championship. In 2020, after 40 years, only Smart Little Lena, Docs Okie Quixote, and Chiquita Pistol have won the NCHA Futurity, the NCHA Super Stakes, and the NCHA Derby to capture the NCHA Triple Crown.

Unfortunately, Docs Okie Quixote did not live to fulfill his promise as a sire. In January 1986, the year he turned six, the celebrated champion died of peritonitis following colic surgery. From two crops, however, he sired 45 NCHA and NRHA money earners, including Bella Coquette, who carried her breeder Sandy Bonelli to win the 1989 NCHA Non-Pro Futurity.

Junie Wood – 2010 to 2020

Sunday, April 12th, 2020
John Mitchell on Junie Wood. Alan Gold photo.

The news about Junie Wood, 2014 NCHA Horse of the Year and one of NCHA’s Top 20 all-time leading money earners, with $525,774, was shared Friday on facebook by her owner, Slate River Ranch. “It was with heavy hearts yesterday that we had to lay our mare Junie Wood to rest. She was diagnosed with kidney disease a few weeks back and unfortunately we had to make this tough decision.”

Bred by Craig Crumpler, Wichita Falls, Tex., and sired by Nitas Wood, Junie Wood was a full sister to Woody Be Tuff LTE $351,063, sire of NCHA and NRCHA earners of $6 million, and also bred by Craig Crumpler. Josh Crumpler, Craig’s son, trained Junie Wood, who they called Lucy, and Craig showed her as the 2013 NCHA Futurity Non-Pro champion.

“My dad is a Doc Quixote man from way back,” said Crumpler of his father, Paul Crumpler, who won the 1973 NCHA Non-Pro Futurity on Doc Quixote, sire of the earners of $9.5 million, and maternal grandsire of both Junie Wood’s sire and dam. Tuffs Junie, Junie Wood’s dam, is the producer of 12 NCHA earners of more than $1.2 million.

“I named her Junie Wood because her mom is Tuffs Junie, and I thought I owed it to her to put that (Junie) in her name,” said Crumpler, who sold Junie Wood to Slate River Ranch, at the 2013 NCHA Futurity.

Under John Mitchell for Slate River Ranch, Junie Wood never missed a beat, with a 229-point win in the 2014 NCHA Super Stakes, and eight more major wins, plus a reserve championship in the 2014 NCHA Derby, during her limited age event career. In addition, she also carried Slate River Ranch owner and non-pro contestant Glade Knight, as a money earner in major Non-Pro and Non-Pro Senior divisions, as well as John Mitchell’s daughter, Jade, as winner of the 2017 NCHA Junior Youth World Finals.

“The horsemen that I respect know what it means to win so many in a row,” said John Mitchell, after Junie Wood’s 2015 NCHA Super Stakes Classic championship win, which was preceded by wins in the 2014 NCHA Super Stakes; the 2014 Southern Futurity; the 2014 Brazos Bash; the 2015 Abilene Spectacular; the 2015 Bonanza; and the 2015 Cattlemen’s Derby. “It’s not that you’re just ripping and tearing because you have a good horse, but you are grateful to have had some good trips.

“You have to be lucky to win, but when she has a shot, she still pulls it off. She’s a special horse.”

At the time of her death, Junie Wood had one NCHA money earner, 4-year-old Ethell LTE $12,511, by Metallic Cat, bred and owned by Slate River and shown by John Mitchell. In addition, she has six other registered foals, two each from 2017, 2018, and 2019.

E.R. Broussard Sr., 1920-2020

Thursday, April 9th, 2020

Bobbie Broussard, breeder of NCHA World Champion Bob Acre Doc, passed away April 8 at the age of 99.

Broussard, who ran mixed cattle on his farm at Delcambre, Louisiana, was hoping to raise a ranch horse, when in 1980, he bred his 16-year-old Sapp Head mare to Son Ofa Doc, on the advice of NCHA Hall of Fame Rider John Carter. Sapp’s Sandy had been a handy mare at home, but she had no performance credentials, and her only previous breeding had resulted in ill-fated twins. The mare herself died a few weeks after giving birth to Bob Acre Doc and Broussard hand-raised the colt on a homemade mash of Calf Manna, crimped oats, honey and milk.

“I force-fed him a little bit at a time, three or four times a day,” he said of the colt, whose name came from a country railroad depot, Bob Acre, not far from Broussard’s home. “It took me a long time until he started eating by himself, but I never got discouraged with him.

Broussard sent Bob Acre Doc to Peewee Clements for breaking, and Clements advised him to put the colt on cattle. Gene Cook took over then, and later Hall of Fame Rider Sam Wilson, who stood Bob Acre Doc’s sire, bought half-interest in the stallion.

Wilson won the 1986 NCHA 5-year-old Classic on the horse, and later showed him to win the 1991 NCHA World Championship. Houston attorney Suzan Cardwell, bought Bob Acre Doc in 1990, and showed him herself to win the 1994 NCHA Non-Pro World Championship. Bob Acre Doc retired with career earnings of $381,703, and was inducted into the NCHA Hall of Fame in 1991.

Glade Knight bought Bob Acre Doc in 2001. The stallion sired NCHA money earners of $9.4 million, including NCHA Futurity Open champion Bobs Smokin Joe, Non-Pro champion Peponitas Acre and Open World Champion Bobs Hickory Rio.

A long-time resident of Delcambre, Broussard served in the United States Coast Guard. He was a shrimper prior to buying the Ice House in Delcambre, serving shrimp boats in the area for many years. 

He is survived by his son, Robbie Broussard and wife Darlene of Delcambre; daughters, Peggy Broussard of Delcambre and Bonnie Hebert and husband Kenneth of Henry; one brother, Herman Broussard and wife Leona of Delcambre; his sister in law, Nettie Broussard of Henry; four grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Eta LeBlanc Broussard; and three brothers, Jimmy, Kern and Wayne Broussard.

Evangeline Funeral Homes of Delcambre is in charge of arrangements.

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020

Super Stakes History Spotlight

Smart Little Lena: 1983 Super Stakes winner
and Triple Crown champion

The late Bill Freeman with Smart Little Lena in 2002. Sally Harrison photo.

As the first stallion to be offered for syndication prior to his debut in the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity, Smart Little Lena carried a lot of expectations going into the event, as did his rider, Bill Freeman, who had taken a financial risk to purchase half-interest in the colt as a two-year-old.

“He was a small horse and not very pretty, but he was what everyone dreams about having at least once their lifetime,” said Freeman, who had won the 1979 Futurity on Docs Diablo, by Doc’s Prescription, a full brother to Docs Lynx, sire of Stylish Lynx, the first NCHA Super Stakes champion.

Smart Little Lena rewarded Freeman’s confidence by winning the 1982 NCHA Futurity, followed in 1983 by NCHA Super Stakes and NCHA Derby wins to become the first NCHA Triple Crown champion. It was just the beginning of a long and storied career during which Smart Little Lena fulfilled the dreams of innumerable horse owners, trainers, breeders, and riders.

Bred by Hanes Chatham, Fort Worth, Tex., Smart Little Lena was sired by 1970 NCHA Futurity champion Doc O’Lena, whose daughter, Lenaette, in 1975, made him the first Futurity champion to sire a Futurity champion. Smart Peppy, Smart Little Lena’s dam, was the only full sister to Royal Santana, a dynamic Peppy San gelding Chatham admired.

Chatham broke and started Smart Little Lena himself, then took the colt to Bill Freeman to be conditioned for the 1981 NCHA Futurity 2-Year-Old Sale. Freeman was unimpressed when Chatham arrived with “this little sorrel stud, ugly as a mud fence and about thirteen hands, three inches tall.” But soon enough, under the homely exterior, Freeman found solid gold.

“When I stepped up on him and cut a cow that first day, there was something magical about him,” said Freeman. “It made the hair on the back of my head raise up. And the next day when I rode him, he was even better. I believed in him and I had to have that horse.”

Smart Little Lena drew last in his bunch of cattle in the first go-round of the Futurity. But after his 222.5-point win in the first round, Freeman was no longer concerned about where he drew. “There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to win the Futurity,” he said. “I felt bullet proof, especially when I put my hand down in the first go-round and he took hold of that cow and squatted. I thought, okay, I’ve got more than just a friend, I’ve got a show horse, too.”

Freeman and Chatham had sold 17 of the 20 shares in Smart Little Lena they offered for $5,000 each prior to the Futurity. They sold 10 of the 80 remaining shares for $25,000 each in January, at the Augusta Futurity, and the rest for $50,000 each at the Super Stakes. After that, shares were offered by individual owners, including two that each brought $75,000 during the NCHA Derby.

At the Futurity, arrangements had been made to stand Smart Little Lena at Manion Ranch in Aubrey, Texas. That first season, he was bred up until one week before the Super Stakes, when he was sent back to Freeman to prepare for the event, which he won handily with 221 points. Following the trophy presentation, Freeman had to hurry Smart Little Lena out of the arena because souvenir-hunting fans had begun to pull hair out of his mane and tail.

“He had something, call it charisma, that drew people to him,” said Freeman. “Very few, if any, horses that I have been around had that quality.

“When he walked to the herd, that place (Will Rogers Coliseum) would just be silent. It was always a real eerie feeling because he was so little that it took forever to get him to the herd, and all the way you could hear a pin drop. Then his first move or his first look on a cow, the place would just erupt.”

Three months after the Super Stakes, Smart Little Lena struck gold again, when he tied Peppymint Twist in the NCHA Derby and became the first horse to win the NCHA Triple Crown. Forty years later, he is one of just three horses to have ever accomplished the feat.

A win in the 1984 Masters Cutting, after which he was retired from the show arena, brought Smart Little Lena’s unofficial earnings to $743,275; his official earnings of $577,652 made him NCHA’s #1 leading all-time leading money earner.

The syndication engineered by Chatham and Freeman assured that Smart Little Lena would receive the industry’s top broodmares, and it didn’t take him long to top the sire charts, when Smart Date, from his first crop, won the 1987 NCHA Futurity.

Today, Smart Little Lena is the unassailable #1 all-time leading broodmare sire with $66,709,305 in earnings, followed by Freckles Playboy with $45,602,640, and High Brow Cat with $38,236,973. He also ranks #3 among all-time leading sires, with offspring earnings of $37,198,683; #6 among all time paternal sires with $62,201,483; and his gelded son Red White And Boon is the #2 all-time leading NCHA earner of $882,498.

Triple Crown dateline

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

The creation of the NCHA Super Stakes in 1981 set up a perfect Triple Crown relationship for the three major Fort Worth events – the Futurity, the Super Stakes, and the Derby. In 1983, Smart Little Lena introduced the world to a new era in cutting horse competition, when he made a winning sweep of the 1982 NCHA Futurity, as well as of the 1983 NCHA Super Stakes and NCHA Derby, and became cutting’s first Triple Crown champion.

But before revisiting the 1983 Super Stakes, a short historical overview of the NCHA Derby is in order.

Prior to 1970, the NCHA Futurity, limited to three-year-olds, was the only official show defined by age restrictions. As Futurity nominations grew, from 49 in 1962, to 539 in 1969, and purses increased four-fold, the demand for cutting-bred and trained show horses increased, as well.

In 1969, Cee Bars Joan earned $15,724 for her NCHA Futurity win. As a gauge to the impact back then of one event with a first prize of over $15,000, consider that in 1970, the average American’s annual salary was $7,564. The logical next step then, for NCHA organizers, was to create another event similar to the NCHA Futurity, but restricted to four-year-olds.

Shorty Freeman won the first NCHA Derby, riding Doc’s Kitty.

In 1970, eleven years before the first Super Stakes, the NCHA Maturity was inaugurated at Tingley Coliseum in Albuqerque, N.M. Limited to four-year-olds, and with procedures and rules modeled after those of the NCHA Futurity, the premier Maturity offered a gross purse of $18,237, with 45 entrees from 86 original nominees.

Three judges officiated at the first NCHA Maturity – Jim Reno, Leroy Ashcraft and Willard Davis. Competition consisted of two go-rounds, the semi-final, and the finals. Before the Futurity, final placing in events was calculated from cumulative totals, so it was a departure for the Futurity and Maturity to pay the big money on the last run.

Although the Futurity had initiated the first non-pro division in 1969, the Maturity did not include non-pro competition until 1975, when the event was moved to the Heart of Texas Arena in Waco, Tex. and renamed the NCHA Derby. Ninety-two entries competed for a purse of $25,093 in that year, with 18 non-pro entries competing for $1,800 within the go-rounds.

Diagnostic Data Inc., the makers of Drive feed supplement, came on board in 1977, as the first NCHA Derby sponsor and added $10,000 to a total purse that had grown $47,833. That year also marked the initiation of NCHA’s new five-judge system.

The NCHA Derby was held in Waco until 1981, when it was moved to Fort Worth’s Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, featuring 211 entries and a purse of $167,725. With the exception of 1987, when it was held at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton, Tex., while Will Rogers Memorial Equestrian Center was under construction, the NCHA Derby has remained a Fort Worth, fixture, along with the Futurity and the Super Stakes.

In 1988, NCHA added separate 5-year-old and six-year-old “Classic” and “Challenge” divisions to the Derby agenda, incorporating all three age divisions into the Summer Spectacular. In 1995, the Classic and Challenge divisions were combined into one division called the Classic Challenge.