Cashing In Diamonds and Vanessa Strotmann, pictured at the 2017 North Central Reining Horse Association Futurity, topped the NRHA Futurity Level 1 Open semifinals. • Photo by Waltenberry

Pale Face Chex Tops First Section of NRHA Futurity Levels 3, 2 & 1 Open Semifinals

The 2017 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) $575,500-added NRHA Futurity Open counted 370 horses entered in the four divisions. Following the first go-round, 75 horses (plus ties) in each level advanced to the Levels 3, 2 and 1 semifinals held Nov. 27 in Oklahoma City.

The first section of the Levels 3, 2 and 1 Futurity Open semifinals saw NRHA Professional Bobby Avila, Jr. and Pale Face Chex (Pale Face Dunnit x Lena Sugar Chex x Lenas Sugarman), owned by 6-K LLC, walk away with a 219. The duo had scored a 216.5 in the first go-round, which brought them the highest composite score after the semifinals – a 435.5 – to lead Levels 3 and 2.

“My horse was really good and very calm today,” Avila said. “I actually got ready early as I thought there could be a few scratches before me. Since there weren’t, we took it easy, and it paid off. I showed him a little different than the way I did the first day; I sat back and loosened my reins so that we would get more credit for our maneuvers, and it worked. I feel really confident now and look forward to the finals on Saturday.”

Cashing In Diamonds (Lil Joe Cash x Diamond Steppin Whiz x Topsail Whiz), ridden by NRHA Professional Vanessa Strotmann and owned by Stefano Calcagnini, posted a 218 in the semifinals after scoring a 216.5 in the first go. That led to a composite score of 434.5, the second-highest score in Levels 3 and 2. Strotmann and the Green Valley Ranch-nominated mare, who is an NRHA/Markel Insurance Sale consignment, are currently leading Level 1.

“This is a really sweet mare we purchased when she was a year old, and I broke and trained her,” Strotmann said. “She is probably the best horse I’ve ever had; she’s very feely and very talented. In the qualifier, we incurred into a couple of penalties, but that was all pilot error. Today, I tried to stay out of the penalty box, and she truly stepped up. I’m looking forward to the finals!”

Smart Chicago Spook (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Smart Chicago Lena x Smart Chic Olena), a stallion ridden by NRHA Professional Bradley S. Hill and owned by Thomas Tucker, was bred and nominated by NRHA Hall of Fame Inductee Bob Loomis. The pair scored a 214.5 in the semifinals, bringing their composite to a 431, the second-highest composite in the Level 1.

The following number of horses will qualify for the Futurity Open finals in each level:

  • Level 3: top 30 horses (plus ties)
  • Level 2: top 20 horses (plus ties)
  • Level 1: top 15 horses (plus ties)
  • Prime Time: top 10 horses (plus ties)

Those horses qualifying for only the Level 3 and/or Level 2 and/or Level 1 Open divisions will show in the first section. The remaining qualifiers (Level 4 Open and Level 4 Open/Level 3 Open/Level 2 Open/Level 1 Open) will compete in the second section. The finals in each division will be a clean-slate format.

The top 75 horses (plus ties) in the Level 4 Open division will advance to the Level 4 Open Silver Spurs Equine semifinals, also sponsored by Not Ruf At All, to be held on Wednesday, Nov. 29.

CINCH Futurity Non-Pro: First Go, Section 2

Following the first section of the Futurity Non-Pro, NRHA Two Million Dollar Rider and Hall of Fame Inductee Mandy McCutcheon riding Gunner Be Custom was leading the Level 4 Non-Pro with a 217.5 score. Gunner Be Custom (Colonels Smoking Gun [Gunner] x Custom Made Dunit x Hollywood Dun it) is a mare bred, owned, and nominated by McQuay Stables Inc.

Once the second section concluded, McCutcheon held onto the highest score in the Level 4 aboard Gunner Be Custom as well as the second highest score – a 217 –riding This Chics Nite (Gunners Special Nite x This Chic N Whiz x Smart Chic Olena), a mare owned by McCutcheon and her husband, Tom, and nominated by the latter.

Debbie Hubbert and Allthewrightstuff earned a 216.5 to lead Levels 3 and 2. The gelding, by NRHA Million Dollar Sire Hollywoodstinseltown and out of Shes Cowismatic (by Lenas Wright On), is bred, owned, and nominated by Hubbert.

A half-point behind, Gunnin For The Gold (Pale Face Dunnit x Gorgeous Like A Star x Smart Like Juice), owned and ridden by Terri-June Granger, is leading Level 1. The gelding was bred by Greg Hill and nominated by Ginger Schmersal.

The third section of the CINCH Futurity Non-Pro will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

The following will make their way to the clean slate finals:

  • Level 4 Non-Pro: top 25 horses (plus ties)
  • Level 3 Non-Pro: top 20 horses (plus ties)
  • Level 2 Non-Pro: top 15 horses (plus ties)
  • Level 1 Non-Pro: top 15 horses (plus ties)
  • Prime Time Non-Pro: top 10 horses (plus ties)
  • Youth Non-Pro: top 15 horses (plus ties)

The top five horses (plus ties) following those who qualified for the finals in all four levels have a chance to earn a ticket to the finals by taking part in the Consolation round, which will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 29.

Riders in the Youth and Prime Time divisions are not eligible for the Consolation, and the champions will be determined in the clean slate finals.

For further information, results, the live feed and live scores, visit