John Kratzer and Smooth Play Kit winning the PCCHA Futurity Classic/Challenge Non-Pro. -- Photo by Molly Montag.

Kratzer & Smooth Play Kit Gutsy in PCCHA Classic/Challenge Non-Pro

John Kratzer found himself at a crossroads two cows into his run in the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association (PCCHA) Futurity’s Classic/Challenge Non-Pro finals.

He and his mare, Smooth Play Kit, were doing well. He knew he had a shot at the Championship.

“When I turned around to cut my third cow, there was 40 seconds on the clock and the cow we wanted was sitting right on top of the herd,” said Kratzer, of Rancho Santa Fe, California. “So, I’m sitting there going, ‘Do I kill some time and look like I’m not going for it, or do I just go for it?'”

He looked over at trainer Tim Smith, who’d helped him pick cows all week.

“Tim’s kind of funny, but he goes, ‘Go for it, dude,'” Kratzer said.

So, he did.

“I think I cut that cow with like 32 seconds left, which is why, I mean, I was just thinking, ‘Do not quit! Do not quit! Do not quit!'” Kratzer said. “I couldn’t even hear the buzzer when it finally went off.”

Their bravery paid off with a winning 222 score and $7,500 in first-place money.

The win meant a lot to Kratzer, who bought the 2012 mare (Smooth As A Cat x Duals Play Kit x Kit Dual) in August. He said cutting can be difficult to work into his busy schedule, which includes family time, and work in real estate and hotels, so when championships like the one he and the mare earned Thursday night come along, they are especially meaningful.

“I don’t get to show very much, so it’s tough for me to sometimes compete with these non-pros, so it means a lot to just be able to come in here and compete with the best of the best,” he said.