Archive for June, 2020

First NCHA Approved Youth Cutting

Sunday, June 28th, 2020

It was an event that heralded little attention, but a 10-entry cutting, held on August 21, 1965 at the Circle K Stock Farm in Dallas, Texas, marks a pivotal moment in the history of the National Cutting Horse Association.

Sponsored by the North Texas Cutting Horse Association, the first NCHA-approved Youth Cutting featured “six boys and four girls.” Although the ages of contestants are not mentioned in an article from the September 1965 issue of The Cuttin’ Hoss Chatter, it is noted that “of particular interest is the fact that two of the contestants came from as far away as Orange and Houston, Texas.”

Louann Tadlock, Aubrey, Texas, and Rigo D’Ingianna , Houston, Texas, tied for the win (scores were not included in the article). Louann was aboard Captain Joker, the 7-year-old stallion owned and shown by her father, trainer J.D. Tadlock.

Pam Phillips, Frisco, Texas, placed third on Gin Echols, an 11-year-old mare shown by her father, B.F. Phillips, Jr., to win the 1965 and 1966 NCHA Non-Pro World Championship titles, as well as the 1965 NCHA Non-Pro Finals. B.F. Phillips also bred some of Quarter Horse racing’s most famous champions, including two-time world champion Dash For Cash, who is arguably the sport’s most influential sire.

Dash For Cash, foaled in 1973, was trained by C.W. “Bubba” Cascio, who during the early 1960s also trained and showed cutters, including his own horse, Royal Jazzy, winner of the 1963 NCHA World Finals.

NCHA president Marion Flynt was on hand at the Circle K Arena on August 21, 1965 to present trophies and ribbons to the Youth participants, and for a winners photo for the “Chatter” article, which concluded: “Our cutters of tomorrow need this encouragement and we ask all members of NCHA to give their assistance in making this class a part of shows wherever possible.”

By 1973, NCHA youth participation had mushroomed and the first NCHA Youth World Finals included participants from seven states. Today, the Junior and Senior Youth World Finals, along with the Youth Scholarship Cutting draw young cutters from coast-to-coast during the NCHA Summer Spectacular in Fort Worth.

The 2020 NCHA Metallic Cat Summer Cutting Spectacular, scheduled for July 10 through August 1, at Will Rogers Memorial Center, includes go-rounds for the both the Youth World Finals and the Youth Scholarship Cutting, beginning on Monday, July 13, and concluding with finals on Wednesday, July 15.  All Youth World Finals competition will be held in World Rogers Coliseum, while the first go-round of the Youth Scholarship will be conducted in Watt Arena, with the finals held in the Coliseum.

Bayou Shorty: 1996 NCHA Super Stakes Champion

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

Super Stakes History Spotlight

Bayou Shorty, ridden by Gary Bellenfant.

When Gary Bellenfant won the 1995 NCHA Futurity on Peptoboonsmal, Bayou Shorty was recovering from abdominal surgery. An impacted section of the gelding’s colon had been removed three days before the start of the Futurity and he was out of action until just a few weeks before the 1996 NCHA Super Stakes.

Although he had to be scratched as an entry just days before the Futurity, Bayou Shorty was nevertheless on the radar as one to watch during the go-rounds of the Super Stakes. In the end, his 223-point final’s score topped the 222 marked by reserve champion High Brow Nurse and Lloyd Cox. Rounding up the top 1996 Super Stakes finalists were NCHA Futurity reserve champion Dually Lena and Winston Hansma, who placed third, while NCHA Futurity champion Peptoboonsmal, also ridden by Bellenfant, was fourth with 219.5 points.

Bred and owned by Mike and Nancy Young, Baird, Texas, and sired by Shorty Lena, Bayou Shorty was the first foal out of Peppy Star Rio, the Young’s first cutting horse. And it was Bellenfant who had shown Peppy Star Rio as champion of the 1989 NCHA Super Stakes and the NCHA Derby.

“It’s hard to believe it, his mother winning it and then him coming along,” said Nancy Young of Bayou Shorty.

“This horse reminds me a lot of his mother,” said Bellenfant, who drew to work Bayou Shorty ninth in the 22-horse Super Stakes finals. “The first cow tried every way in the world to get past him. I didn’t know how long he could sustain that pace and keep holding that cow. As it turned out, he could do it long enough. But I was real worried.

“He has a plenty big motor, just like his mother. He was always kind of a wild little booger, for a long time. But now he’s much more relaxed to be around now, probably from all the attention and everything that had to be done to him at home (following his surgery).”

Sired by Phantom Peppy and bred by Crawford Farms, Peppy Star Rio was the first embryo transfer foal to win a major cutting event. She retired from showing with earnings of $188,468, and as a broodmare produced six earners of $316,975, including DNA registered Bayou Shorty LTE $214,879.

By the time Bayou Shorty retired from limited age competition, he had been a finalist in 10 major events and had claimed an additional win, in the 1998 NCHA Super Stakes Classic, as well as a reserve championship, in the 1998 Bonanza Classic. Gary Bellenfant, the NCHA Open Hall of Fame earner of over $3.1 million, is one of only nine riders who have won the NCHA Open Futurity two or more times. He is also the most recent champion, having claimed the win, as well as the distinction of being the oldest rider to ever win cutting’s most prestigious event. Last December, at the age of 69, Bellenfant won the 2019 NCHA Open Futurity on the Metallic Cat son Metallic Rey Mink, owned and bred by Los Jaboncillos Ranch, Premont, Texas.

The NCHA Futurity Open Nine:

  • Buster Welch: 1962, Money’s Glo; 1963 Chickasha Glo; 1966, Rey Jay’s Pete; 1971, Dry Doc; 1977, Peppy San Badger
  • Bill Freeman: 1979, Docs Diablo; 1982, Smart Little Lena; 1988, Smart Little Senor
  • Ronnie Rice: 1988, Dainty Playgirl; 2001, San Tule Freckles; 2012, Cr Tuff Hearted Cat
  • Shorty Freeman: 1970, Doc O’Lena; 1975, Lenaette
  • Leon Harrel: 1974, Doc’s Yuba Lea; 1987, Smart Date
  • Joe Heim: 1981, Colonel Lil; 1983, Docs Okie Quixote
  • Kathy Daughn: 1985, The Gemnist; 2000, Royal Fletch
  • Craig Thompson: 2006, Oh Cay Felix; 2011 Oh Miss Caroline
  • Austin Shepard: 2007 High Brow CD; 2017, Dual Reyish

A Little Starlight: 1995 NCHA Super Stakes Champion

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

Super Stakes History Spotlight

Sandy Bonelli on Shakin Flo, one of the mares that brought her six NCHA Super Stakes or Classic championships.

In 1995, for the second consecutive year, and the second time in its 15-year history, the NCHA Super Stakes Open championship was won by a non-pro. And 1995 Super Stakes champion Sandy Bonelli, Petaluma, Calif., was the first woman to ever win the event, as well. Riding A Little Starlight, Bonelli scored 224 points to take the win over Smokin Dually and Winston Hansma, who claimed reserve with 223 points. In addition to Smokin Dually, owned by Dogwood Farms, the Super Stakes Open finalists also included 1994 NCHA Futurity and 1995 NCHA Derby champion CD Olena, also shown by Hansma for Dogwood Farms.

Since Bonelli’s win, only two other women, both professionals, have won the Open Super Stakes – Kathy Daughn in 1999, on Playin Stylish, and Cara Barry Brewer in 2004, on Playin Tag.

And two months after her Super Stakes Open win, Sandy Bonelli was back in Will Rogers coliseum to claim the NCHA Non-Pro Derby on Quixotes Pretty Lady, the Doc Quixote daughter she had shown to place in both the  Open and Non-Pro finals of the NCHA Futurity, and to tie for third in the 1995 NCHA Non-Pro Super Stakes, where A Little Starlight was co-reserve champion.

“I’ve never had two horses this nice at one time,” said Bonelli, following the 1995 Super Stakes finals. “I trained Quixotes Pretty Lady for the big Futurity, and I bought A Little Starlight to show at the little futurities. I had no idea she was this good. She has just gotten better and better.”

Bonelli purchased A Little Starlight in July of the mare’s 3-year-old year, from Charlie Ward, of Doc Bar Ranch fame. Ward had raised and trained the Grays Starlight daughter, out of a Doc’s Sug mare, and Bonelli found her to be a good fit. By the end of 1994, Bonelli and 3-year-old A Little Starlight had won the Gold Coast Non-Pro Futurity, claimed reserve in the Pacific Coast Open Futurity, and placed third in the Pacific Coast Non-Pro Futurity.

A Little Starlight and Bonelli would win four more championships in 1995, including the Reno Open Cutting Stakes. When she retired at six, A Little Starlight, shown strictly by Bonelli,  had earned $205,956, with nine wins and two reserve championships in 21 limited age event finals.

Sandy Bonelli, Petaluma, Calif., had shown reining horses as a teenager, but it was Doc’s Oak’s owner and 1973 NCHA Open Futurity champion Tom Lyons, who introduced her to cutting. Although A Little Starlight was Bonelli’s first major NCHA Open champion, she was not her first major limited event champion. In 1984, when she was 23, Bonelli won the NCHA Non-Pro Super Stakes on the Doc’s Oak daughter Oakalola. “She was the second horse I had shown in major events,” said Bonelli. “When I look back I realize that when I was showing her, I didn’t know anything. But she was a cow horse and took care of me.”

As a member of both the NCHA Open and Non-Pro Halls of Fame, and the earner of over $3.5 million, Sandy Bonelli has won a record 16 NCHA Triple Crown events, including four NCHA Non-Pro Futurity wins; one Open and three Non-Pro NCHA Super Stakes wins; one Open and two Non-Pro NCHA Derby wins; two Non-Pro Super Stakes Classic wins; and one Open and two Non-Pro NCHA Classic Challenge wins. Ranked among cutting’s all-time leading owners of money earners, she has also bred and trained many of her own champions. Her leading earners include 1998 NCHA Open Horse of the Year Shakin Flo $417,909; *Shakin Rondee $283,359; Starlight Gem $231,787; A Little Starlight $205,956; Sues Barn Cat $157,261; *Oakalola $130,205; *Soula Jule Star $121,591; *Midnight Rondeevous $118,698; Lizzys Got Style $103,252; Staraleno $99,708; Quixotes Pretty Lady $91,494; Handle Bar Hallie $88,167; Blue Leboon $84,164; and *Bella Coquette $83,331.

The symbol *in front of a horse’s name in the above list indicates that it was bred by Bonelli. Shakin Rondee and Midnight Rondeevous, for instance, are out of Shakin Flo, and Soula Jule Star is out of Bella Coquette, who is out of Oakalola. While Bonelli purchased Quixotes Pretty Lady from that mare’s breeder, Pat Fitzgerald, it was Bonelli who bred Quixotes Pretty Lady’s daughter Quiolena, by CD Olena, and Quiolena is the dam of Quintan Blue LTE $594,637, an all-time leading dam of 12 earners of $1.2 million.

Tap O Lena: 1994 NCHA Super Stakes Open Champion

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

Super Stakes History Spotlight

Tap O Lena, ridden by Phil Rapp.

In 1994, non-pro competitor Phil Rapp won both the Open and Non-Pro NCHA Super Stakes championships and achieved a still unmatched accomplishment. No other rider before or since has claimed both championships of a 4-year-old NCHA Triple Crown event in the same year.

It was Tap O Lena, a Doc O’Lena daughter bred by Rapp out of his first major money earner, Tapeppyoka Peppy, by Doc’s Oak, who carried Rapp for the Open championship, while he rode Miss Skeeto Lena, also a Doc O’Lena daughter, for the Non-Pro win.

Tap O Lena had drawn nineteenth to work in the 21-horse Super Stakes Open finals, where her competition included 1994 Augusta Futurity winner Hicapoo, shown by Paul Hansma for Jim and Mary Jo Milner. Already a leading 4-year-old earner with over $100,000 before the Super Stakes finals, Hicapoo had placed third in the NCHA Futurity and won the Augusta Open Futurity. Following the Super Stakes, where she placed as reserve champion with 222 points, Hicapoo would include the NCHA Derby, the Glen Rose Derby, and the Georgia National among her 1994 wins, and was named 1994 NCHA Horse of the Year. When she retired, she had official NCHA earnings of $446,712.

Tap O Lena’s credentials coming into the Super Stakes included Non-Pro championship wins in the Augusta Futurity and the Chisholm Trail Derby, as well as ninth place in the Abilene Spectacular Non-Pro. She had also been an NCHA Futurity Open semi-finalist.  Her scores of 218.5 and 216.5 in the go-rounds, and 216.5 in the semi-finals of the Super Stakes were on target, and from past experience Rapp knew he could call on Tap O Lena for more in the finals.

Although their first cow in the finals was not one Rapp had picked, it was in the right place at the right time and turned out to be a good one. With over a minute left after the first cut, Rapp made his second one on a cow he and his helpers had liked. But when they cleared the herd and he dropped his hand, Rapp was faced with a renegade.

“It was all or nothing,” he said. “We were on the verge of disaster. The cow was mad and my mare was running out of air, but my help kept saying to stay hooked, so I just kept kicking.”

The winning score of 225 points was Rapp’s highest mark up to that time. The next year, he and Tap O Lena would win the 1995 NCHA Classic/Challenge Open and Non-Pro championships with matching scores of 228 points, and in 1996, they dominated the NCHA Super Stakes Classic Open and Non-Pro with wins of 226.5 and 223 points, respectively.

“She has all of her mother’s guts and Doc O Lena’s finesse,” said Rapp, who was 15 when he began showing Tap O Lena’s dam. “I was pretty green when I first started showing Tapeppyoka. “I’d get her in binds that I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to get horses into. We learned together, and she was gutty. At some weekend shows I’d cut her for darned near two minutes.”

When she retired from showing, Tap O Lena had official NCHA earnings of $450,639 and had earned 16 championships, three Open and 13 Non-Pro. She had also placed second in the 1997 NCHA Non-Pro World standings and won the 1997 NCHA Non-Pro World Finals with Phil’s wife, Mary Ann Rapp.

When she retired, Tap O Lena would eclipse her impressive show career with an even more impressive one as the wellspring of more champions and record setters. She has produced 11 money earners of $638,380, including Tapt Twice LTE $279,457, by Dual Pep. Tapt Twice is a leading dam of 25 earners of $1.5 million, including cutting’s all-time leading female money earner Dont Look Twice LTE $824,546, the 2011 NCHA Open Horse of the Year, 2012 NCHA Open World Champion, and 2011 NCHA Open Reserve World Champion. In turn, Dont Look Twice, by High Brow Cat, is the dam of 8 earners of $672,783, including Dont Stopp Believin LTE $462,124, winner of the 2015 NCHA Open Super Stakes and 2018 NCHA World Open Reserve Champion.

Little Badger Dulce: 1993 NCHA Super Stakes Champion

Friday, June 5th, 2020

Super Stakes History Spotlight

Little Badger Dulce, ridden by Pete Branch.

When Pete Branch lowered his reins and Little Badger Dulce locked down on her first cow, spectators collectively leaned forward in their seats. The Peppy San Badger daughter, owned by Lonnie and Barbara Allsup, Clovis, New Mexico, had been a crowd favorite since the 1992 NCHA Futurity, where she was reserve champion by half-a-point to Dox Miss N Reno. So far in 1993 she had won three consecutive championships and was on course for her fourth in the NCHA Super Stakes.

Little Moonpie, co-reserve champion to Little Badger Dulce in the Abilene Spectacular, had set a 222-point target in the first set of the Super Stakes finals under Greg Welch for Dan and Sallee Craine, Fort Worth, Texas. But Branch knew his mare was up for the challenge.

“It was great,” said Branch, following Little Badger Dulce’s 223.5-point winning performance.  “The cows were tough, and I was calling on her and she was trying her heart out.”

Bred by King Ranch, Little Badger Dulce was sired by Peppy San Badger out of the Doc Bar daughter Sandia Dulce. Branch broke Sandia Dulce, when he worked for Louis Pearce Jr., and was surprised, fifteen years later, when he went to work for the Allsups, to find that Sandia Dulce’s daughter was one of their cutting prospects.

“She was really a good mare,” said Branch of Sandia Dulce. “Dulce reminds me a lot of her. That’s what I liked so much about her. She didn’t start as quick as her mother, but she was super intelligent and real willing, and easy to get along with. Once she started taking to it, she just took off.  By the summer of her two-year-old year, you could put your hand down on her and she’d work a cow by herself. “

By the time of the Super Stakes, Branch’s confidence in Little Badger Dulce was unshakable. “They don’t come along like her very often,” he said. “I think she’ll go down in history.”

As if to prove Branch’s point, following the Super Stakes, Little Badger Dulce racked up three more wins. As a result, she was recognized in a special presentation, on the night of the 1993 NCHA Futurity Open Finals, as the very first recipient of the NCHA Horse of the Year Award. Between October 1, 1992 and September 30, 1993, the calendar for consideration of Horse of the Year nominees, Little Badger Dulce had won seven major limited age event championships, was reserve champion in two more, and had garnered $227,592 in official NCHA earnings.

“I had so much confidence in her through the year, I just kept letting her figure her way out,” said Branch. “She’s tremendously big-hearted and can draw cows to her and have them stop right in front of her. Winning big has always been her style.”

According to Branch, Little Badger Dulce’s stamina and endurance, over what became a long, successful career, were due in part to her good sense and willing disposition. “When you tune her, you go in and two cows later, you’re off of her and she’s hardly broken a sweat,” he said. “She knows what you want.”

During 1994 and 1995, Little Badger Dulce and Branch won six more limited age event championships and three reserve championships. In addition, they claimed $67,363 and the 1995 NCHA World Open reserve championship during tough weekend campaigning.

In 1996, Lonnie Allsup, who had never shown her in limited age competition, took to the road with Little Badger Dulce and won the NCHA Non-Pro World championship with a record $99,132. The following year, for the first time in during her career, Little Badger Dulce enjoyed a respite from campaigning. But she came back for a last hurrah in 1998, when she earned $62,731 under Curly Tully, as NCHA World Open reserve champion.

Today, Little Badger Dulce ranks ninth among cutting’s all-time leading money earners and third among all-time leading mares, with career earnings of $657,276. In addition, she is the dam of nine NCHA earners of $250,977, including Dulces Smart Lena, co-reserve champion of the 2002 NCHA Super Stakes under Phil Rapp, and sire of Lil Dulce Lu, 2010 NCHA Super Stakes Open Limited reserve champion under Chris Johnsrud.

Pete Branch, the NCHA Hall of Fame earner of over $3.7 million, began his career showing halter and performance horses and breaking two-year-olds for Louis Pearce Jr., Houston, Texas. By the early 1980s, Branch had transitioned to cutting and showed Pearce-owned Chick Tari, by Doc Tari, as reserve champion of the 1981 NCHA Futurity and champion of the 1982 NCHA Super Stakes. In 2008 and 2010, he won the NCHA Open World championship on Ms Peppy Cat, owned by the Allsups. And in 2012, he was NCHA Super Stakes reserve champion on the High Brow Cat son Kit Kat Sugar, who would become the 2012 NCHA Open Horse of the Year, with six limited age championships. Kit Kat Sugar, a leading sire in 2019, is out of the Little Badger Dulce daughter Sugar N Dulce.