There was one thing wrong with TGI Playtime and Skip Queen’s 223-point effort that won Friday’s National Cutting Horse Association Super Stakes Classic Open title and $37,295 – it came too early.
The 5-year-old mare (One Time Pepto x Play Miss Lena x Smart Little Lena), a prior career earner of just under $50,000, and Queen competed from the No. 2 draw in the 25-horse, two-set event. That meant the Allendale, S.C., trainer and “Claire’s” breeder and owner, Carroll Matthews, of Turkey, N.C., had to wait through 23 more runs to see if the score would hold. Among the horses following TGI Playtime were 11 horses with more than $100,000 in earnings, and three horses with more than $200,000 earned.
“There were a lot of really good horses and there were several great horses that could step up and win any day,” said Queen, 45, and a career earner of more than $1.7 million. “We were very lucky, but the mare has been good all week. Through every go round and in the semifinals, she just kept getting better and better. This time, she was on her A-game.”
Co-Reserve Champions Short N Smooth, ridden by Jason Clark, of Millsap, Texas, and Creepy Crawler, ridden by Luke Huggins, of Summerdale, Ala., finished half-a-point behind with a pair of 222.5 scores. They each earned $29,266.
Short N Smooth (Smooth As A Cat x Playin Shorty x Playin Stylish), a 6-year-old gelding owned by Darren Blanton, of Dallas, Texas, had already earned more than $170,000. His effort this time, though, was particularly impressive, Blanton said. The horse had suffered an intestinal illness a couple of days earlier, causing him to spend two days at a veterinarian hospital.
“We were surprised he could come back that strong,” Blanton said. “He’s got a lot of heart.”
Creepy Crawler and Huggins were Co-Reserve Champions with a 216.5 in Thursday’s John Deere Classic Open finals, making this their second reserve finish in as many nights. Huggins, 27, has been Austin Shepard’s assistant trainer for about eight years. Creepy Crawler (Widows Freckles x Stylish Amanda x Docs Stylish Oak) is a gelding owned by Buster Quirk, of Denham Springs, La. Before arriving in Fort Worth, Creepy Crawler had earned $32,066 as a cutting horse, and Huggins had earned $29,119 as a cutting rider. They pair earned $34,155 with their consecutive-night co-reserve finishes.
“That’s Austin’s horse. He trained him and everything. I just didn’t screw it up. That’s all I did,” Huggins said with a grin after his career-best ride. “I’m just glad ‘Big A’ is happy.”