Thanks in part to the Mercuria/National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) World Series of Cutting being held with the Augusta Futurity, numbers were up at this year’s event, and many familiar names and faces returned to compete at the James Brown Arena in Augusta, Georgia. The 5/6-Year-Old Classic Open finals were filled with a lot of big names, promising a competitive class.
During the first set, Tommies Playgirl, ridden by Equi-Stat Elite $1 Million Rider Bubba Matlock, marked the score to beat: a 221. That was matched in the second set by Metallic Manziel and Equi-Stat Elite $2 Million Rider Skip Queen. But the score only held until draw No. 22, when Equi-Stat Elite $9 Million Rider Phil Rapp rode Dont Stopp Believin to a 223. Rapp and the stallion went home to Weatherford, Texas, with the Championship and a paycheck worth $10,001.
“It makes me think I’m pretty slow not coming back for a couple years,” Rapp said with a laugh. “It’s wonderful. The first year I came here was 1991, so there’s a lot of memories.”
Queen and Matlock shared the Reserve Championship, with each receiving $7,500. Tommies Playgirl (Thomas E Hughes x Another Playgirl x Freckles Playboy), who was bred by Jim Crawford, is owned by Vick Etheridge, and Metallic Manziel belongs to Queen and his wife Elizabeth.
Rapp said his cuts weren’t very pretty during the run, so he tried to make up for that at the end by finishing strong.
“Once I got the cut, the horse was really, really good. He was on the money, just doing what he needed to do. He was just spot on,” he said.
Dont Stopp Believin is a fifth generation horse for Rapp. His father purchased his great-great-grandmother, Tapeppyoka Peppy, in 1984 when he was 14 years old.
“When he [Rapp’s dad] bought her, he said, ‘I want my son to have a good horse.’ Here I am, 47, and still getting good horses out of that line. So Dad’s pretty smart,” Rapp admitted.
Tapeppyoka Peppy produced Tap O Lena, the mother of Tapt Twice. Tapt Twice is the dam of Dont Look Twice (by High Brow Cat), cutting’s highest-earning mare. Dont Stopp Believin is Dont Look Twice’s highest-earning offspring.
Dont Stopp Believin is already passing on his legendary genetics to his first foal crop this year. With 20 babies on the way, Rapp is particularly excited about the stallion’s future as a sire.
“We’re very fortunate,” he said. “We’ve got babies coming out of really good mares.
“There’s a lot of his mom in him, but there’s a lot of [his sire] Dual Rey, too, and he’s got a lot of his own characteristics. We’re looking forward to seeing what the babies look like.”
5/6-Year-Old Classic Non-Pro on page 2