On Saturday, May 26, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the draw sheets revealed an incredibly competitive 22-horse field set to compete in the Breeder’s Invitational (BI) Derby Open finals. The 4-year-old open horses had already broken a show record, so cutting fans expected quite a show. They got it!
When the seventh horse-and-rider team out in the first set marked a 223, the crowd erupted in applause. The next duo left the arena with an equally impressive 223 on the screen overhead, and the excitement in the Tulsa Expo Center seemed deafening.
Hottish’s sons Dual Reyish, guided by Austin Shepard, and Cool N Hot, ridden by Sean Flynn, were tied for the lead! The remaining 14 competitors tried in vain to match their opponents – leaving no other option.
“Keep the cows in the arena, while the judges review their scores,” Tom Holt announced. Anticipation hummed while horsemen and the audience waited for the verdict. “Austin Shepard and Sean Flynn, please return to the arena for a work-off!”
Less than 10 minutes later, Dual Reyish (out of A Little Reylena x Dual Rey) and Shepard were named the Derby Open Champions. Equi-Stat Elite $7 Million Rider Shepard, of Summerdale, Alabama, also piloted the Greg Smith-bred Dual Reyish in December, when he was named Champion of the 2017 National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity Open.
The team brought home $68,107 for owner Billy Wolf, of Whitesboro, Texas, pushing the chestnut stallion’s Equi-Stat record well past the $300,000 milestone.
Cool N Hot (Hottish x Donas Cool Cat x High Brow Cat) claimed the Derby Open Reserve Championship and garnered $34,633 for owners Kobie Wood and his wife, Paula. Flynn, who has more than $2.5 million in lifetime earnings, catch-rode for Equi-Stat Elite $5 Million Rider Wood at the BI due to health issues.
Wood memorably topped the Lucas Oil NCHA Super Stakes Open for the first time in his career on the homebred stallion when they marked a 227 in Will Rogers earlier this year. Cool N Hot, a full or half-sibling to earners of $715,878, was no less impressive in Tulsa! It was a thrilling way to wrap up this year’s Breeder’s Invitational!