Blame it on tricky cows, poor cuts or bad luck, but the NCHA Futurity was still wide open when Clay Johnson rode to the herd on Dual Smart Kitty, draw no. 18 in the 27-horse field.
The first move on the first cow. That was all it took. Dual Smart Kitty was locked and loaded.
“She just grabs a hold of a cow and you’ve got to be ready because it’s going to come right back to you, so I just sat there and let her do her thing,” said Johnson, after his 224.5-point winning ride on the Dual Smart Rey daughter owned by Rusty and Shelley Simpson, Nemo, Tex.
“I cut the first two cows really clean and it was great. The third cow from out list was supposed to be the wildest, but when she turned around she didn’t go anywhere. She just kind of stood there and gave me this evil stare. I was scared to death.”
But Johnson stayed tuned to the mantra ingrained in his head by helpers Casey Green and Jaime Snyder – “Sit and wait on her.”
Johnson sat and Dual Smart Kitty waited for a final shot, which came in the final second, dead center in front of the herd. Their winners’ bounty – $200,000.
“She’s the cowiest horse I’ve had in my 12 years of doing this,” said Johnson
, who won the 2012 NCHA Super Stakes and $100,000 on KR Isadora Dual. “I really want to thank Jeremy and Candace Barwick for giving me the opportunity. They hired me right after this year’s Super Stakes, when they bought Western Bloodstock.
“Jeremy had this mare for himself and he trusted that I could carry her on. He had her pretty much trained when I got there. I just lucked into her and held her together.”
Barwick, earner of over $1.3 million and NCHA Open World Champion on Dual Rey Me, turned over the reins of his training operation to Johnson in May, when he and his wife Candace purchased Western Bloodstock, the auction company that produces the NCHA sales in Forth Worth, as well
as private owner venues.
“When Clay went to work for us, I told him, that’s the mare you can win the Futurity on,” said Barwick. “He did an awesome job. It was a great win for Clay and a great win for Dual Smart Rey.”
Jeremy and Candace also operate Brazos Valley Stallion Station in Stephenville, Tex., managed by Debbie Patterson, a three-time NCHA Non-Pro World Champion. Dual Smart Rey was the only horse that home building magnate D.R. Horton retained, when he sold all of his horses at his Strawn Valley Ranch Dispersal, managed by Western Bloodstock, on September 25, in Weatherford, Tex.
“He has always been very special to me,” said Horton of Dual Smart Rey, who won the 2006 NCHA Super Stakes and over $330,000. “He will be my only horse now.”
Following his dispersal sale, which was produced by Western Bloodstock, Horton moved Dual Smart Rey to Stephenville to stand at Brazos Valley Stallion Station.
“Her daddy crawled around just like that,” noted Johnson of the unique hard-stopping, belly-to-the-ground style passed down to Dual Smart Kitty through Dual Smart Rey, who sired two Open Futurity finalists from 10 total entries, as well as two Non-Pro finalists, including Stop Toying With Me, who placed 10th in the Open finals and fourth in the Non-Pro finals, under Dean Holden.
Johnson had enjoyed limited success as a cutting horse trainer and had even considered changing careers, before he won the NCHA Super Stakes for James and Gay Karhan, Blanco, Tex.
“Things started picking up after I won the Super Stakes,” said Johnson. “I don’t think you could stick a piece of dynamite under me and get me to quit right now.”
Rusty Simpson, who owns rock quarries in South Texas that provide crush rock for oil field operations, purchased Dual Smart Kitty, his first cutting horse, for $70,000 at the 2012 NCHA Futurity Sale. It was his daughter Sadye, 15, who peaked his interest in the sport, when she started riding at the Barwick’s Shadow Oak Ranch in Stephenville.
“Jeremy put us on to her,” said Simpson of Dual Smart Kitty. “He’s been telling us all along that she was going to win it. So we had our hopes up pretty high. But it’s still unbelievable.”
Dual Smart Kitty was consigned to the 21012 sale by Todd Nelson, Los Altos, CA, who her under saddle with Richard Jordan. Nelson had purchased the filly for $8,000 at the 2012 NCHA Super Stakes Sale, from her breeder Tim Brewer, who also bred her dam, Cats Peptolena LTE $136,767, by High Brow Cat, and granddam, Peptolena Lucinda, by Peptoboonsmal.