Special Nu Baby and her career-long trainer, Equi-Stat Elite $7 Million Rider Matt Gaines, made history Sept. 12 during the Mercuria/National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) World Series of Cutting Open finals at the El Rancho Futurity in Rancho Murieta, California. The dream team came from the sixth draw in the eight-horse finals to deliver an earth-shattering run that earned a score of 234.
That performance ties the all-time NCHA world record, which was set by Dont Look Twice and Equi-Stat Elite $8 Million Rider Phil Rapp in 2011.
“That mare is just absolutely amazing. She’s just one of a kind,” Gaines said of Special Nu Baby, owned by Gary and Shannon Barker, of Madill, Oklahoma, and bred by Crystal Creek Ranch, of Aledo, Texas. “That’s the best run I’ve ever had.”
Special Nu Baby (Dual Rey x Nu I Wood x Zack T Wood) is ranked No. 1 in the NCHA Open World standings by a wide margin, with this $10,116 paycheck bringing her 2015 total to more than $74,000 as of mid-September. Smart Stingrey (Dual Rey x Smart Sandhill Kay x Smart Mate), who is sitting second in the World, and Mike Wood finished as Mercuria Open Reserve Champions with a 228, earning $7,992 toward the more than $37,000 the duo has already earned this year for owner Michelle LeMaster, of Las Vegas.
This Mercuria title marks the third consecutive and fourth overall win for “Baby” in the series. She started the year with a championship at the San Antonio Stock Show, and has most recently topped the event held in conjunction with The Mane Event, and Idaho and El Rancho futurities.
“Matt’s done an amazing job training her and he’s got nerves of steel to go down there and show her and do the things he does,” said Gaines’ wife, Tara Gaines, who has gotten the mare ready since she arrived at the couple’s ranch. “She’s got an amazing gift from God, and that’s just what makes her what she is.”