Sue Christensen
Champion Sue Christensen on Auspicious Ruby Cat. Hart Photography.

Sue Christensen, Walton, Neb., won the 2017 NCHA Derby Rios of Mercedes Amateur Finals with 219 points aboard Auspicious Ruby Cat. Ryan Smith, Royce City, Tex., was reserve champion with 215 points on Suen Or Later, and three riders with 214-point scores split third through fifth places: Reyly Plendl on Sunday Drive; Duff Sinclair with Goodlookinsonofaich; and Rick Thompson aboard Smooth Lil Operator.

Christensen, who also claimed the 2017 Derby Senior Amateur winnerís check, showed Auspicious Ruby Cat LTE $13,052, by Auspicious Cat, earlier this year to place fifth among the Breeders Invitational Non-Pro Senior riders. Christensen has won $83,682 in NCHA competition, including dual wins in the 2010 State of Missouri Futurity – with Thimblerey in the 5/6 Non-Pro and on Lil Stripper in the 4-Year-Old Amateur.

Ryan Smith
Reserve champion Ryan Smith on Suen Or Lator. Hart Photography.

Reserve champion Ryan Smith is also the top-scoring rider, with 218.5 points on Reys CD II, going into Fridayís Classic Challenge Unlimited Amateur Finals. Suen Or Lator LTE $6,354, by Boon Too Suen, also carried Smith as an Amateur finalist in the 2017 Abilene Spectacular and the 2017 NCHA Super Stakes. Smith, the NCHA earner of $100,262, won the 2016 Waco Texas Futurity 4-Year-Old Amateur riding Fancee This, by Gimme This.

Reyly Plendl, Kingsley, Iowa, showed Sunday Drive LTE $20,780 as the 2017 Amateur champion of The Non-Pro Cutting. She also placed third on the Hydrive Cat daughter in the 2017 Breeders Invitational Amateur, as well as The Non-Pro Amateur Unlimited. Plendl is the NCHA lifetime earner of $110,922.

Duff Sinclair, Lipan, Tex., showed Goodlookinsonofaich LTE $4,792, as a 2016 NCHA Futurity Amateur finalist. This year, Sinclair and his Cat Ichi-sired gelding placed third in the Abilene Spectacular Amateur Finals, and placed in the Arbuckle Mountain Unlimited Amateur Finals. Sinclair, the NCHA earner of $39,752, also showed High On This Cat as an Amateur †finalist in the 2017 NCHA Super Stakes and placed second in the Amateur Gelding division.

Rick Thompson, Bryan, Tex., purchased Smooth Lil Operator as a yearling in the 2014 NCHA Futurity Sales from breeders Glenn and Debbie Drake. The Smooth As A Cat gelding carried Thompson as reserve champion of the 2017 NCHA Super Stakes Amateur Finals and also won the NCHA Super Stakes Senior Amateur division.† Smooth Lil Operator is the career earner of $17,426; Thompson has NCHA earnings of $28,315.