The High Roller Reining Classic concluded on Sept. 20 with a large and contentious group of horses in the Lucas Oil Derby Open and Whizkey N Diamonds Stakes Open. When it was all said and done, Not Ruf At All and Jason Vanlandingham added two more major titles and substantial earnings to their records.
Vanlandingham and the 4-year-old stallion owned by Vaughn Zimmerman were the 21st draw in the 46-horse second section of the Derby and Stakes Open finals. SG Frozen Enterprise and Andrea Fappani had posted the score to beat – 223.5 – as the 10th team to compete. Vanlandingham didn’t know that at the time, though. So when his score of 224.5 was announced, he was a tad disappointed.
“I thought I would be a 29 or 30. I thought I had that kind of a run,” Vanlandingham said. “Whenever I heard my score – they’ve been pretty tight here all week –they said 24.5 and I went back and watched my video, I thought I must have done something wrong. But that’s the way they’ve been judging, and that’s fine, as long as they get them in the right order.”
An enthusiastic crowd obviously thought the judges did get the order right, reacting to Not Ruf At All’s score with whoops and clapping. Vanlandingham was also pleased with “Vinny’s” performance, which earned the winner’s check of $15,178.
“I had a little bobble tonight in my left-side turn, which is normally is his best way of turning. I haven’t been schooling on him at all, just let him do his thing,” Vanlandingham said. “I went in there and I drew on him like I normally do and he sucked back a little bit. But the rest was as good as he’s ever been. He circled the best he’s ever circled.”
That’s saying a lot for the horse who won the Futurity Level 4 Open at the Ariat Tulsa Reining Classic, High Roller Reining Classic and National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity last year, and the NRHA Derby Level 4 Open this year.
“His mind, his athleticism, his try – his heart is amazing. He tries with every ounce of energy that he has,” Vanlandingham said of Not Ruf At All. “He just has a little extra something that most horses don’t have. He’s one of those very special horses.”
KR Billy Bob and Casey Deary nearly stole the Derby Open Championship as the next-to-last draw, finishing a half-point off the leader with a 224 to secure the Reserve Championship and $9,238. Vincent and Lynn Maffucci own KR Billy Bob (Smart And Shiney x KR English Tee).
The Whizter (Gallo Del Cielo x Miss Whizard Jac), ridden by Tom McCutcheon for Turnabout Farms, took the Stakes Open Reserve Championship with a 223.5. Janice Dickson’s Wimps Cool Breeze (Wimpys Little Step x QHR Jamaica Breeze) and Matt Mills were the Stakes Level 3 Open Champions, while Ryan Rushing and Magnumatic (Magnum Chic Dream x BH Aint Misbehavin), owned by Callie Abing, won the Level 2 and $3,316.
Canadian Austin Seelhof and Geri Zimmel’s Shine On Commander (Commanders Nic x Shine On Tejon) were the Derby Open Levels 3 and 2 Champions with a score of 224. Kyle Kellmer rode Suzanne Marlowe’s Banwhoa Whiz (Banjo Whiz x Sure Remedy) to a 217 and the Level 1 Championship.
Lucas Oil Derby & Whizkey N Diamonds Stakes Non-Pro
There is no doubt NRHA $2 Million Rider Mandy McCutcheon is tough to beat in the non-pro ranks. She proved that again in Las Vegas, winning the Derby Non-Pro and Stakes Non-Pro with a 216 on Check This Nicadual (Mister Nicadual x Check Your Gun Lady) and a 217 on Ms Whiz Dunit (Topsail Whiz x A Bueno Poco Dunit), respectively.
The McQuay Stables-owned Check This Nicadual was also the Reserve Champion in the Stakes Non-Pro with a score of 216. McCutcheon was third in both the Stakes and Derby on Nifty Starbuck (Smart Starbuck x Nifty Jodie Jac).
Nineteen-year-old Emily Winegar-Mabey was the Derby Open Reserve Champion with a 215 aboard Ms Revolution (Einsteins Revolution x Smart Scat). The duo also won the Levels 3 and 2 for finals earnings of more than $12,200.
Kristin Darnall-Titov and Jac Be Whiz (Conquistador Whiz x Cinch Up Cowboy) won the Level 1 with a 212, while Ronald Thompson and Taris Dreamer (Magnum Chic Dream x Taris San Cutter) won the Prime Time.
Protect The Harvest Futurity
As the next-to-last team to compete, Magnum Starlights and Casey Deary marked a 222 to win the Protect The Harvest Futurity Open by a 3.5-point margin. Antler Ridge Ranch, LLC, of Clyde, Texas, owns the stallion, who is sired by Magnum Chic Dream and out of Starlights Sugarwhiz. The win came with a $13,212 paycheck and a hopeful good omen for the future – the last two winners of the High Roller Reining Classic Futurity Open have gone on to win the NRHA Futurity in Oklahoma City.
Fappani tied himself for the Reserve Championship on Pinesail Jac (Tinsel Jac x Sailin Lil Ruf), owned by Raul Leal, and Whizzen For Chex (Topsail Whiz x Dun It For Chex), owned by Rancho Oso Rio LLC. Both horses marked a 218.5 and earned $7,036.
Mizzfire (Colonels Smoking Gun [Gunner] x West Coast Mizzen) and Arno Honstetter won the Level 3 with a score of 218. The win was worth $6,155 for owner Story Book Stables. Travis Wigen ride Lisa Janssen’s Hello Banjo (Banjo Whiz x Miss Lil Ruf) to the Level 2 Open Championship, which was worth $3,905. The Level 1 Open Championship and $1,933 went to Vintage Glamour (A Sparkling Vintage x Starjac Miss), ridden by Titus Covington for owner Petra Zeitler Conner.
In the Futurity Non-Pro, Allison Sutton, of Gainesville, Texas, and Zins Rowdy Whiz (Topsail Whiz x Smart Rowdy Lady) swept the Levels 4, 3 and 2 championships with a score of 215.5. They earned a total of $9,094. Sharee Schwartzenberger, of Longmont, Colo., and Sin City Dreamer (Magnum Chic Dream x Playin Dominos) were the Level 4 Non-Pro Reserve Champions with a 214.5, banking $2,118.