That last horse will get you every time.
Jeremy Gates and Watchitgalsgottagun marked a 217 to take the lead in the Carolina Classic Derby Level 3 Open midway through the first set. That held almost until the very end, only to be equaled by the very last horse-and-rider combination in the class – Ruf Juice and Alejandro Ortiz Vasquez.
They decided to share the winnings instead of going for a runoff. Each earned $2,860 for the Level 3 Championship, and pocketed another $3,088 for the Level 4 Reserve Co-Championship.
Gates, of Campbell Hall, New York, was excited his mount by Spooks Gotta Gun out of Valentine Whiz (by Topsail Whiz) was able to bank some more money on her show record. He and owner Ingrid Rund wanted to put the mare over $20,000 in career earnings to bolster her future value as a broodmare and, in Gates’ estimation, the Carolina Classic purse money and incentives put them past the mark.
“Maybe we’ll raise that [earnings goal] a little now,” he joked.
Although some 2018 Carolina Classic champions were lightly campaigned or unproven show horses, Watchitgalsgottagun had an accomplished show record going into the show, held May 8-13 at Tryon International Equestrian Center in Miss Spring, North Carolina.
Last year, she earned the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Novice Horse Open Level 2 Reserve World Championship, winning $5,959 in the division.
The mare, who Gates described as intense, also earned the 2016 Atlantic Breeders Incentive Level 3 Open Reserve Championship and had strong showings at the Central New York Reining Horse Association Fall Classic.
“She gives everything to her job every time you ask,” Gates said, describing the mare’s desire. “There’s no easy. It’s all or nothing with her.”
Co-Champions Ruf Juice and Alejandro Ortiz Vasquez also were an experienced team, having competed together at the National Reining Breeders Classic, Carolina Classic Derby and several reinings in the Midwest.
Going into the 2018 Carolina Classic, the 2012 daughter of Smart Like Juice out of Ruf Catalyst (by Lil Ruf Peppy) had earned more than $10,000 for owner-breeder Smart Like Juice Inc, of Markham, Illinois. Like Watchitgalsgottagun, she added $5,950 in purse money to her record.
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