The Wild Card Reining Challenge has been canceled. The event's 4-Year-Old Futurity, which was won last year by Co-Champions Gabe Hutchins and Ladi With A Gun (pictured) and Andrea Fappani and Legends West, has been moved to another show. • Photo by Waltenberry.

Wild Card Reining Challenge Canceled, 4-Year-Old Futurity Moved

The 2018 Wild Card Reining Challenge has been canceled. The event will be discontinued and its signature 4-year-old futurity has been moved to a different show, an organizer said.

Amanda Brumley, of Brumley Management Group LLC, on Tuesday said the show scheduled for May 19-26 at the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada, was canceled due to lack of entries. The stall count for the show was down significantly from last year and, had the show proceeded, it would have resulted in a large monetary loss, she said.

“Looking at it, we just couldn’t go forward with a potential six-figure loss, financially,” Brumley said by telephone. “We’ve tried to do everything in our power to encourage more people to enter. We waived late fees…But, you can only do what you can do.”

The cancellation was announced on the show’s Facebook page. As word spread, a number of people contacted Brumley to say they planned on competing at the show but had not yet entered. Instead, they planned on entering at the show.

That was extremely frustrating, Brumley said, because show producers can’t count on a flood of last-minute entries – stalls for the Wild Card were to open May 16 – to make an event a success.

She said the situation illustrates the importance of meeting pre-entry deadlines. That holds true regardless of discipline, type of event or size of show, because even smaller horse shows need to be run like a business in order to remain viable, she said.

“When they’re not [run like a business] you see them fail, and that’s not good for anybody,” Brumley said. “So, that’s what I really, really want to drive home. You can’t say at the last minute, ‘Oh, I’ll just decide to go.’ No. We budget. We have projections. I have a very complicated spreadsheet that I project the outcome of every one of my events.”

She said that spreadsheet made it clear the entries she had for the Wild Card were not enough.

This would have been the third year for the event. Given the lack of entries this year, as well as a new date for the 2019 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby that would put the two events closer together, Brumley said the Wild Card Reining Challenge is done for good. 

“My rule on events and anything that I start is I’ll give it three years,” she said. “Because it’s a pretty good rule of thumb; if you break even the third year, then I’m happy because I know it has potential to grow.”

Wild Card 4-Year-Old Futurity

The Wild Card’s signature event — a 4-year-old futurity — will live on.

It will be moved to the High Roller Reining Classic, which is slated for Sept. 7-15 at the South Point. Sometimes called a “red shirt” futurity, the event is open to horses that did not compete in an NRHA-approved, Category 2 aged event as 3-year-olds.

“We’re going to be carrying on the Wild Card 4-Year-Old Futurity concept, it’ll just be transferred to the High Roller in September,” Brumley said. “It will not run concurrent with the 4-Year-old Stakes and the Derby. It will run as its own entity and it will still be called the Wild Card 4-Year-Old Futurity Presented by Tamarack Ranch. It will still have the same amount of prize money in it – $65,000.”

Last year, Gabe Hutchins and Andrea Fappani tied for the Wild Card 4-Year-Old Futurity Level 4 Open Co-Championship. Hutchins rode Ladi With A Gun (Colonels Smoking Gun [Gunner] x Easy Lil Lady x Easy Otie Whiz) to a 219.5, which Fappani equaled aboard Legends West (Custom Legend x Western Whizzy x West Coast Whiz).

Brumley believes moving the Wild Card 4-Year-Old Futurity to the High Roller will make the latter event even better, although she hates the idea of giving up on the Wild Card Reining Challenge.

“I have to look at the big picture (and) what’s in the best interests of the horses and our exhibitors,” she said. “And, it’s definitely disappointing, but I feel it’s the right thing to do and I’ll just refocus my energy and efforts into making High Roller bigger and bigger, and better and better.”

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