Three weeks. That’s all Franco Bertolani asked for. One week for the Cactus Reining Classic. One week for the National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC). One week for the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby. It doesn’t seem like much, but when those three weeks fall during a busy breeding schedule for Inferno Sixty Six, it required some consideration. In the end, Bertolani got his three weeks, and during the first, Inferno Sixty Six justified his trainer’s faith with a crowd-pleasing win in the Lucas Oil Derby Level 4 Open at the Cactus Reining Classic.
Owned by Slide Or Die LLC, Inferno Sixty Six (Gunnatrashya x Snip O Gun x One Gun) showed to judges Alain Allard, Jody Brainerd and Donnie Bricker as the 49th draw in the 75-horse Derby Open. Bertolani expertly guided the stallion through Pattern No. 5, drawing loud cheers from the spectators in the Equidome at WestWorld in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“He was really good today,” said Bertolani, who is less than $150,000 away from becoming a million-dollar rider. “When I finished my second lead change and went to stop, I thought I had a good run going. So I thought, be safe with the stops and don’t do too much, because I could maybe lose what I’ve got. So I tried to be smart on the stops. He was really quiet in the center, and I’m very happy with him.”
When it was all said and done, a score of 228.5 came across the loudspeaker, putting Inferno Sixty Six firmly in the lead. The previous high score of 226, posted by Gunnafoolya and Arno Honstetter from draw No. 20, was matched later in the night by Dun Spooked Us and Daniel Schloemer from draw No. 69. Both horses are owned by the Overgaard family – Marilyn owns Gunnafoolya (Gunnatrashya x Berry Dun It Best x Hollywood Dun It) and Jenanne owns Dun Spooked Us. The reserve champions each picked up $7,344, while Dun Spooked Us (Smart Spook x Always A Dunit x Hollywood Dun It) added $6,203 for also winning the Level 3 Open. Walla Walla Starbuck (Walla Walla Whiz x Silvernbluestarbuck x Smart Starbuck), who was the Level 3 Open Reserve Champion under Tom Foran, won Level 2, while Woodys Toy Gun (Hollywoodstinseltown x Gunners Pearl x Colonels Smoking Gun [Gunner]) and Jesus Chavez were the Level 1 Open Champions.
Inferno Sixty Six added $13,788 to his career earnings, which now stand at $174,915. The stallion was the 2015 NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open Reserve Champion after a rousing run-off with eventual winner Shesouttayourleague (Walla Walla Whiz x Wimpys Little Chic x Wimpys Little Step). As a 3-year-old, he also made the finals at the All American Quarter Horse Congress Futurity and finished in the top 10 at the Tulsa Reining Classic in the Futurity Level 4 Open. Last year, Inferno Sixty Six was third at the High Roller Reining Classic in the Stakes Open and sixth in the Derby Level 4 Open, and was a top 10 finalist in the NRBC Derby Level 4 Open.
Inferno Sixty Six returned to Cardinal Ranch to continue breeding to a full book of mares this year. Bertolani plans on borrowing the stallion again for the NRBC, which runs from April 16-23 in Katy, Texas.
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