Rocky Dare had no one to beat but himself in order to claim the 1988 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby Open Championship.
The 1988 NRHA Derby is one show in Salem, New Jersey, veteran trainer Rocky Dare’s career he will not forget. Following the last finals run, it was clear to everyone in attendance Dare had won the competition, but what was not known was what horse he’d won the title on. After Dare and two of his three horses he qualified for the finals tied for the lead with a 226 score, a run-off was called to determine the winner.
Dare first returned to the pen with Reinin Step (Greyhound Step x Chaparrita Dream x Royal Pat), a 1984 gelding bred by Dare and his wife, Delise. The pair ran another good pattern and was given a 223 score.
Following a quick bridle change, Dare stepped aboard RWD Start (pictured), and the two completed their run to an unheard of 228 score. RWD Start (Gun Start x Pocotalico x Dart’s Zero Bar), a 1984 gelding bred by Ruth Clever, of Columbus, Ohio, picked up a $4,902 check for owners Don and Barbara Marinucci, of Perkasie, Pennyslvania.
The year before (1987), Dare rode RWD Start to an NRHA Futurity Open Reserve Championship. In addition to the Derby Open Reserve finish on Reinin Step, Dare also placed fifth in the finals on Banjoes April Gal (Heza Banjoe x Continental Mira x Continental King), a 1984 mare owned by Harold Lepler, of Brewster, New York, and he won the Derby’s Freestyle Reining Championship on Totally Greyhound (Greyhound Step x April King Cody x Joe Cody), a 1983 homebred gelding.