Matt Gaines and Barker Ranch’s Special Nu Baby marked 229 to win the Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting Open finals at the South Point Equestrian Center’s “Mane Event” on August 22. The $10,407 paycheck will extend their substantial lead in the 2015 World Champion’s race.
It was the second Mercuria win this year for the 9-year-old mare, who marked a 230 when she won at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo back in February.
Todd Bimat placed second at Las Vegas with a 224 on Lauren McIntire’s Peptos Chic Olena. Boyd Rice and Morgan Cromer split third and fourth with a 220.5 on Center Ranch’s CR Sun Reys and Clarke Butte Ranch’s Pounce, respectively.
Owned by Gary and Shannon Barker of Madill, Oklahoma, Special Nu Baby was bred by Eddy Longley’s Crystal Creek Ranch. She is by Dual Rey out of Nu I Wood, the mare that Gaines showed to win six major championships, including the NCHA Derby and NCHA Super Stakes Classic, earning $405,000. Nu I Wood has produced earners of more than $900,000, including Special Nu Kitty ($301,000) and Special Nu Cat ($127,000).
Special Nu Baby’s Las Vegas jackpot will take her earnings over $415,000. In her limited age event career, she was an NCHA Futurity finalist, Super Stakes Classic reserve champion, and winner of the Bonanza Classic and the Pacific Coast Stakes. Since “aging out,” she has earned more than $80,000. Her first foal to earn an NCHA paycheck, Special Nu Metallic, by Metallic Cat, was a finalist at the Ike Hamilton Futurity this year.
Special Nu Baby arrived in Las Vegas with 2015 earnings of $64,149 as the leader in the World standings. When her Mercuria earnings and weekend earnings at the show are added in, she’ll have nearly double the 2015 earnings of her closest rival.
Fifteen-year-old Brandon Westfall of Los Olivos, California, marked 228 on Gentle Ben to win the Mercuria Non-Pro finals, earning $6,541. Brandon Dufurrena of Gainesville, Texas was second with a 223 on Purple Reyn, whil Madalyn Colgrove was third with a 220 on Smart Whittle Margie.
It was Westfall’s second Mercuria World Series win with Gentle Ben. The team also won at the Pacific Coast Derby in 2014.
Bred by Mark and Eva Gardiner, Gentle Ben is a 6-year-old gelding by the Westfall family’s stallion, CD Royal, out of PG Selena, a Playgun mare that has produced earners of $210,000. Gentle Ben’s earnings will go over $98,000 with his Las Vegas paychecks.