Under the bright lights of the Jim Norick Arena awaited an arena full of good dirt, excited spectators and eager competitors. All were ready to begin section two of the 2018 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby Non-Pro finals, which had the highest amount of entries and purse payout in the history of the event.
After a thrilling first run, Sandra Bentien and NRHA Sire & Dam program offspring Gotta Twist It Up (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Make It With A Twist x Dun It With A Twist) scored a 220.5, tying the top score on the leaderboard, marked by NRHA Million Dollar Rider and Owner Jose Vazquez and his own Like Shiner. After all was said and done, Vazquez and Bentien agreed to a run-off, and it was Bentien and “Ace” who scored a 224 to claim the championship in both the Level 4 and Level 3. Making the win even sweeter was the fact that Gotta Twist It Up is bred, owned and nominated by Bentien, and has earned $97,307 in NRHA Lifetime Earnings (LTE) with his owner aboard. Tonight, the pair added nearly $32,000 to that total.
The run-off left Vazquez and Like Shiner, a 2012 mare by NRHA Million Dollar Sire Smart Like Juice and out of Wind Her Up Shiner (by Shining Spark), to claim the reserve title in both the Level 4 and Prime Time Non-Pro divisions. Owned, bred and nominated by Vazquez’s Smart Like Juice Inc., Like Shiner has had a successful 2018 with her owner. The duo earned $60,425 in NRHA LTE with tonight’s win.
Levels 2 & 1 Non-Pro
The Level 3 Reserve Championship was taken by Jenanne Overgaard and her stallion Dun Spooked Us (Smart Spook x Always A Dunit x Hollywood Dun It) with a 219. The 6-year-old stallion was bred and nominated by Petska Trinity Equine LLC and helped Overgaard earn the night’s highest paycheck – $36,606. In addition to the Level 3 reserve title, the pair took home third place in Level 4 and the championships in Levels 2, 1 and the Prime Time division.
Emily Opell and Spook N Reyn scored a 218.5, claiming reserve honors in Levels 2 and 1, third place in Level 3 and fourth in Level 4. On top of that, they were crowned the Youth Non-Pro Champions.
By NRHA Four Million Dollar Sire Smart Spook and out of Reyn Chex (by Mr Solano Rey), Steve Opell’s Spook N Reyn was bred and nominated by Francesca Sternberg. Opell and the 2012 palomino stallion took home a check in excess of $30,000 for their performance.
Taking home a reserve championship in the youth division, along with top five finishes in Levels 4-1, were Ronny Lane Colston and Kevin Colston’s Baileys Not Painted (PT) (Gunners Special Nite x Darlins Not Painted [PT] x Smokin Chic Olena [PT]). The gelding was bred and nominated by Turnabout Farm Inc. and earned a paycheck of more than $23,000 with Colston aboard – the youngest rider in section two of the Derby Non-Pro finals. Colston also earned nearly $10,000 on his other mount, One Stormy Nite (Gunners Special Nite x Whatta Royal Vintage x Hollywood Vintage).
During the NRHA Derby, the world’s best 4-, 5- and 6-year-old reining horses and competitors come to Oklahoma City to compete for an estimated total purse and cash prizes of more than $1 million. For more information on schedules, live video coverage, hotel accommodations, sponsors and more, visit nrhaderby.com.