With $25,000 added in both the Mercuria/NCHA World Series of Cutting Open and Non-Pro, there was incentive for trainers to travel from far-flung states to the All American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio. Texas competitors took the top spots in both the Open and Non-Pro divisions.
Winning the Mercuria Open was ARC Ruby Playgunia (Playgun x Ruby Bagonia x Peppy San Badger), piloted to a 227 by Matt Budge for Jackpot Ranch in Weatherford, Texas. The long drive from Stephenville, Texas, to Columbus was worth it when Lane Wood and Pepto Boom (Peptoboonsmal x Stylish Play Lena x Docs Stylish Oak), owned by Lane’s proud dad, Kobie Wood, won the Congress Mercuria Non-Pro finals with a 226.
The Congress also offered Bridleless Open and Non-Pro finals for high-scoring horses not making the Mercuria finals. Winners were Little Red Pepto (Peptoboonsmal x Smartita Lena x Smart Little Lena) and Chris Howell in the Open, and Robert Parsons on TR Terri Rey (TR Dual Rey x Terris Trouble x Smart And Trouble) in Non-Pro.
Other cutting winners at Congress included CR Duty N Sacrifice, piloted by Gabe Reynolds, of Springfield, Tenn., for William Kuttler, of Brandenburg, Ky., with a 149 in the Futurity Open, winning $5,725, and Plan Smart Ride Acat with Dusty Johnson for Thomas Mills of Winona, Miss., with a 149 that earned $5,306 in the Derby Open. Sprats Sugar Rey won the Classic Open with Randy Chartier, of Marine City, Mich., aboard for Michael Eaton of Danville, Ind. The score of 150 earned $3,981.
Non-Pro limited-age event winners included Michael Schreck, of Hudson, Iowa, on Miss Kitty Commander in the Futurity finals, with their 142 earning $3,602. Jason McClure, of Hayesville, N.C., on Boonshine Man, and Lisa Johnson, of Benson, N.C., on Shorty Smooth tied in the Derby finals at 144, each duo earning $2,714. Benjie Neely, of Lyons, Ga., rode Laceys Merada to a 147.5 in the Classic finals, winning $1,701.