Bama Jelly, owned by his breeder Madalyn Colgrove, Boligee, Miss., and shown by Austin Shepard, scored 222.5 points on Thursday, to win the 2019 Arbuckle Mountain 4-Year-Old Futurity and $30,000. Sugrspiznevrthingniz and Justa Lil Brownsugar, both sired by Kit Kat Sugar, owned by Jim Vangilder, Weatherford, Tex., and shown by Matt Gaines, scored 222 and 219 points, respectively, to place second and third, and earn $25,000 and $22,500. Earlier in the day, Gaines and Vangilder’s gelding, Metallic Drifter $93,720, had scored 222 points to win the 5/6-Year-Old Classic.

Austin Shepard

This was the second championship win for Bama Jelly $75,863, who won the Augusta Futurity under Shepard, in January. Bama Jelly’s sire, Bamacat, was bred by Shepard and shown by him as 2015 NCHA Open World Champion Stallion. Shepard, who tied for second-place in the Arbuckle Mountain 5/6 Classic riding Sir Long Legs $334,758, owned by Lew Hall, Lakeland, Fla., also tied for 6/7 in the 4-Year-Old Finals with 217.5 points on Metallics MVP $55,628, owned by Billy Wolf, Whitesboro, Tex., and placed (23rdd) on his own horse, Chexy Louella $59,721, 2018 NCHA Futurity Non-Pro champion under Cade Shepard..

Sugrspiznevrthingniz $65,855, bred by Robert Rust, came into the Arbuckle Mountain Futurity after claiming reserve in the Bonanza Futurity, where she also earned first-place money in the Open Novice division. Justa Lil Brownsugar $52,388 placed fourth with Jim Vangilder in the NCHA Futurity Non-Pro Limited and also earned  first-place money for the NCHA Futurity Non-Pro Senior and Non-Pro Limited Senior, as well as a check as a Non-Pro Semi-Finalist.

Justa Lil Brownsugar was bred by Matt and Megan Miller, and is out of Travs Scooter $221,566, Matt Miller’s 2006 NCHA Futurity Non-Pro champion. Miller won the 2018 Arbuckle Mountain Futurity Open aboard the Dual Smart Rey daughter Carolena Reyn $193,577, also bred by the Millers and shown by Megan to win the 2018 NCHA Super Stakes Non-Pro.

The 2019 Arbuckle Mountain Futurity and Classic has been especially rewarding for Matt Gaines and Jim Vangilder. Gaines, an NCHA Hall of Fame Rider and an NCHA all-time leading money earner of $8.3 million, showed one of Vangilder’s first cutting horses, Zacks Lena $135,240, who Vangilder rode to win the 2002 Brazos Bash Amateur. In 2006, Jim Vangilder was inducted into the NCHA Non-Pro Hall of Fame, and in 2009, he held a complete dispersal of his cutting horse operation, which had been developed by Hall of Fame trainer Roger Wagner. At the time of the dispersal, Rock Creek Ranch was the #4 all-time leading cutting horse owner,with $3.6 million in earnings.

Vangilder, who in the past few years has started showing again, said at the time of his 2009 dispersal, “If you want to do well in this sport and be consistently competitive, you must either live in Texas or spend a lot of time in Texas. Since my daughter Grace is no longer home schooled, but attending sixth grade in Missouri, I had to choose between being there with my family or being here without them for much of the time, this was one of the easiest decisions I have ever made.”

This week, riding Vangilder horses at the Arbuckle Mountain Futurity, Gaines earned a total of $81,641; and Jim Vangilder, who is showing in the 4-year-old and 5/6-year-old Non-Pro and Unlimited Amateur divisions, has already qualified for the 5/6 Classic Finals riding Wicked Little Cat $42,447, the horse he rode to win the 2018 Non-Pro Limited Amateur championship.

The Arbuckle Mountain Futurity continues through Sunday, February 24.