(Left to right) Michael Cooper, Kim Cox, Russ Westfall & Matt Miller • Photo by Alex Lynch

Three of a Kind in Brazos Bash Futurity Open

Several small cutting futurities have already taken place, and the 3-year-old athletes have built more confidence in the herd. That sureness in tough situations proved to be valuable in the Futurity Open at the Brazos Bash, where the cattle were testy.

In the 15-horse finals, George and Charlene Lane’s gelding CR Tuff Mudder (Woody Be Tuff x CR Cats Meow x High Brow Cat) and Equi-Stat Elite $3 Million Rider Russ Westfall came from the fourth hole to mark a 218.

Directly following their run, Gato Borracho (Cats Merada x Dual Gen x Dual Pep), owned by Jeff and Amy Jones, and Equi-Stat Elite $2 Million Rider Michael Cooper matched that score. Graces CD (High Brow CD x Hangem High Pep x Hickorys Indian Pep) and Equi-Stat Elite $3 Million Rider wanted to join the group, and they also earned a 218 for owner Janice Eaton.

Those 218s held up for the Championship, and the riders unanimously decided not to run off in an effort to preserve their horses’ energy for the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association Holy Cow Performance Horses Futurity, Derby and Classic.

All three pairs collected $17,333 for their performances, and they were all pleased their strategies to stay as clean as possible paid off.

“You just try to get a clean run every time you can on these 3 year olds,” Cooper said as Miller agreed.

“I just tried to put up the biggest score I could and let the chips fall as they may,” Westfall followed.

Derby Open

The ties weren’t over after the Brazos Bash Futurity Open. It was anyone’s game in the massive 28-horse finals that were stacked with some of the cutting horse industry’s hard-hitting 4 year olds, but two duos saw themselves at the top.

Rose Valley Ranch-owned mare Cattys Hope (Catty Hawk x Tornados Rey Of Hope x Dual Rey) and Michael Cooper marked a 224 from the first bunch of the finals, then HR Cats Starlight (High Brow Cat x Nurse Gray x Grays Starlight) and Equi-Stat Elite $1 Million Rider Tarin Rice matched that score for owners EJ and Audrey Huntley from set two.

The pairs both took home hefty paychecks of $18,750. Dan Churchill-bred Cattys Hope now boasts lifetime earnings of more than $200,000, according to Equi-Stat. HR Cats Starlight, who was bred by Dottie Hill, now has an Equi-Stat record of nearly $130,000.

The duos are no strangers to matching scores. Cooper and Cattys Hope and HR Cats Starlight and Rice both marked a 224.5 in the Breeders Invitational Derby Open finals early this year to share Co-Reserve honors.

When Cooper was asked how he felt about being involved in so many ties recently, he laughed and said as long as he’s at the top, he’s happy to be tied.

Classic/Challenge Open

When Metallic Rebel is called to perform next at a cutting event, most attending will stop what they are doing to watch the stallion cut. And for good reason. He and Equi-Stat Elite $3 Million Rider Beau Galyean have made the top three in nearly every event they have entered this year.

The Classic/Challenge Open finals at the Brazos Bash was no different. People flocked to the arena walls as the pair walked to the herd, and they were not disappointed. The proven pair threw down a big 228 to top the class by a massive 6.5-point margin.

Metallic Rebel (Metallic Cat x Sweet Abra x Abrakadabracre), who was bred by Fults Ranch and is owned by Thomas Guinn, added $20,000 to his record for the win, pushing him to an Equi-Stat record of $367,110.

Galyean and the stallion have had a packed schedule this year, in an effort to win the NCHA Open Horse of the Year title. Metallic Rebel is currently leading the standings according to the NCHA, but he and Hashtags have been neck and neck all year. Galyean said Metallic Rebel has not missed a beat, and he expects the stallion to keep it up through the end of the year.

“It’s been a long road,” Galyean said. “It’ll be down to the wire. We just call him ‘Beast Mode’ around the barn, because he doesn’t slow down. He still feels fresh.”

A 221.5 earned Ed Flynn and Play Miss Boonsmal (Peptoboonsmal x Play Miss x Playgun) for Reserve honors and a check of $17,500.

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