The Oklahoma Reining Horse Association Ride & Slide Derby Open field, with nearly 100 entered, was thick with accomplished trainers and horses, as many were using the event to prime for April’s National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC), followed by the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby coming in June. It was a tight race on March 10, but Shining In Town and Jason Vanlandingham came out victorious.
In a series of events that made for more than a little elbowing from his fellow trainers, Thiago Boechat saw the run from his horse Ruf Lil Magnum (Magnum Chic Dream x Dunit A Lil Ruf x Lil Ruf Peppy) marked three times.
As the 43rd horse to work, Ruf Lil Magnum originally received a score of 223, and then the score was raised to a 226.5 as Vanlandingham, riding Shining In Town (Hollywoodstinseltown x Shine Ann x Shining Spark), waited to hear what his score would be as the 50th horse to work.
“My score was being held for review because ‘Chubs’ checked himself a little bit,” Vanlandingham said, “but I watched the video and I thought he might have scored a 6.5 or a 7, so he did what I expected he would when they announced the 227.5.”
An hour later, Ruf Lil Magnum’s score was corrected to a 227, for which he would earn the Level 4 Open Reserve title and more than $6,000.
“A bunch of us gave Thiago a lot of grief about that, and I told him if we waited a little longer, he just might end up beating me,” Vanlandingham said with a laugh. “There were 10 horses that could have scored that high after I did, so I am glad it ended up the way it did.
“The competition was stiff and a lot of good horses were there,” the Level 4 Open Champion continued. “It was a great way to get the season started. That’s a great pen to show in. The ground was fast, but it was consistent all the way through.”
Owned by Washington State apple growers John and Norma Sather, 6-year-old palomino stallion Shining In Town has been a solid mount for the former NRHA Futurity and Derby Champion.
“He’s a thick-made horse; he’s a beast, and that’s why he’s called Chubs, but he’s up to the task,” said the Whitesboro, Texas-based trainer, whose lifetime earnings total more than $1.4 million.
f“I’ve had him a year and this is the fourth time I’ve shown him,” he continued. “I was in the top 10 of the Derby last year and then tied myself with him on Ruf Nite, who the Sathers also own, to win the Tulsa Derby. Then I was top 10 on him in Vegas at the High Roller Reining Classic. He’s been really good every time and just keeps getting better and better. We have pretty high expectations for him.”
The duo earned a check for $10,165, bringing Shining In Town’s Equi-Stat record to nearly $50,000. Like it is for many at the Oklahoma event, the NRBC will be their next major competition. As they move into summer, it appears Vanlandingham will be plenty busy.
“My son and I showed five horses at this Derby, and we’re very blessed to have the caliber and number of horses that we have in the barn from some great owners,” he said. “The Sathers have been wonderful people to work for, and I am so grateful.”
Derby Levels 3 & 2 Open
In reining, there is a certain group of trainers who just seem to keep on keeping on, having been in the game from the beginning to its rise to the international stage – and one of those mainstays is Rocky Dare, of Salem, New Jersey.
At 61, the earner of more than $1 million showed he was not going to let up anytime soon. He not only tied for the Level 3 Open Championship, he scored a double-header when took the Level 2 title, as well.
Dare said he felt like he’d scored a triple-header riding Xtra Goodstep (Wimpys Little Step x Miss N Becky x Okie Paul Quixote), because he also tied for fourth place in the Level 4 Open. When it all added up, the pair garnered earnings of nearly $11,000 for owner B&A Enterprises, bringing the chestnut stallion’s lifetime earnings to more than $22,000, according to Equi-Stat.
Scoring a 225 as the 87th to work, Dare matched Gabriel Diano’s earlier score from riding Tunes In Hollywood (Hollywoodstinseltown x Shiney Tari x Shining Spark), who is a three-quarter sibling in blood to Vanlandingham’s winning mount.
“I’ve had him since he was a 2-year-old, and he’s been a very nice horse to train,” Dare said. “Success in the show pen has kind of been up and down. We’d have a little success with him here and there, but we finally got him figured out. He’s such a nice horse to be around. He’s so quiet and laid-back.”
Dare said his performance at the Ride & Slide was testimony to the horse’s growing ability.
“He was there for me the whole time; his circles were just unbelievable – wide open – and he stayed right between the reins,” he said. “He was really nice the whole pattern.”
Dare noted that through his more than 40 years of training reining horses, methods have not changed much, but the caliber of horses has increased and driven up both prices and purses.
“Thirty years ago, if you had a horse with a dam and a sire that showed in reining, you had a pretty good horse,” he explained. “But now, I am riding horses who have grandmothers and great-grandmothers I have ridden.”
The tie with Dare in the Level 3 Open did not leave Diano disappointed. As a matter of fact, he couldn’t have been happier.
“We have had a lot of trouble keeping him from being sore,” the Uruguayan-born trainer said. “I rode him at the [NRHA] Futurity, and we did pretty well there, but he had strained his suspensory before then when he stepped on himself, so we showed him very lightly after that or not at all because he just wasn’t 100 percent.”
The horse, owned by Paraguayan Margarita Buey Arietti, wasn’t shown at all in 2017, but the owner and rider both agreed their patience would be rewarded. They were clearly right.
“I’ve always believed in him,” said the trainer, who was the Levels 3 and 2 Champion and the Reserve Champion in Level 4 at the 2014 NRHA Futurity. “This was the first time we’ve been able to show him when he was 100 percent, and it proved he is a really, really nice horse. He had a little bobble in the turn, but even with that, he marked a 225. I am really, really happy that I can show everybody what a high-quality horse he is.”
“Marguerito,” as he is called, was purchased by Diano for Arietti as a 2-year-old.
“I think he’s good everywhere,” Diano said. “He proved that in the show pen, which is the most important part. He just put everything together.”
Diano credited his owner for agreeing to let the horse rest after his injury.
“We gave him the time off, but it never seemed like it was enough, so the owner just said let him rest,” Diano recllaed. “It paid off. It took a long time, but it paid off. My owner is a really good customer, and she really believes in this horse, too.”
Diano and Tunes In Hollywood earned $4,187 for their win, pushing his total earnings to almost $20,000.
Placing second in the Derby Level 2 Open was Candy Coded, shown by John Visser and owned by Daniel Dugan. The 5-year-old sorrel mare by Electric Code and out of Smartest Sister (by Hesa Smart Chic) earned close to $1,300.