Smart Lookin Nurse’s barn name, “Finn,” is said to be an Americanized version of the Spanish word for last – el fin – he was dubbed for being the last foal born that year at Wagonhound Land & Livestock.
“I jokingly say, hopefully, that’s the last time he’s last,” said owner-rider Bart Holowath.
After adding two titles from the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Derby to his ever-expanding trophy case, the sorrel gelding has showed his Canadian owner that he much prefers to be first.
Holowath, of Cayley, Alberta, rode the gelded son of Equi-Stat Elite $10 Million Sire WR This Cats Smart to the NRCHA Derby Non-Pro and Intermediate Non-Pro championships Saturday, June 16, in Paso Robles, California.
They won the titles with a composite of 653.5 (219 herd/215.5 rein/219 cow), 8.5 points ahead of Non-Pro Reserve Champions Hope Miller and Sparking Metallic.
Even though Miller, of Brush Prairie, Washington, had the lead by a half point going into the cow work finals, Holowath stuck to his normal game plan of focusing on each maneuver rather than trying to shoot for a particular score.
“I drew up [right] behind Hope, so I did the math on what I needed to be, but really it doesn’t matter,” he said. “You’ve just got to go work the cow that you get, and to the best of your ability. You can’t make a 220 run on a 210 cow or a 210 horse.”
Judging by Holowath’s success, the strategy seems to be working.
In February, he and Smart Lookin Nurse won the Non-Pro and Intermediate Non-Pro championships at the Cow Horse Classic Derby during the NRCHA Celebration of Champions in Fort Worth, Texas. Holowath and the gelding made Non-Pro and Intermediate Non-Pro finals two months later at the NRCHA Stakes in Vegas, and the Canadian hopes to continue their roll at other competitions this year.
Holowath and his wife, Terri, bought the son of Nurseware (by Dual Rey) from breeder, Wagonhound Land & Livestock, after Bart tried him out at trainer Todd Crawford’s facility in Oklahoma. He tried out two horses over the course of three days, but really liked the 2013 sorrel gelding out of Nurseware (by Dual Rey).
“He’s just such an athlete. He’s an awesome cutter. I’m sure he could go cutting. He wants to turn around. He wants to stop,” he said. “I mean, the better I ride him, the better he gets. He’s just a very high-caliber horse.”
Their NRCHA Derby winner’s checks of $11,161 boosted Smart Lookin Nurse’s lifetime Equi-Stat record to more than $59,000, and Holowath’s past the $141,000 mark.
“Sometimes I feel a little bit of pressure to do well; he’s so good, if something goes wrong it’s not usually his fault,” he said. “But, I mean, yeah, it’s just phenomenal to be able to go and be able to consistently put up some scores like that.”
Holowath credited his winning year to the behind-the-scenes support crew — from his wife, trainer John Swales, veterinarian, farriers, Swales’ training staff and turnback help — that helps him and the horse be successful.
“This doesn’t happen without like a team of people behind you,” he said. “I mean, it’s kind of a cliché, but it’s true.”
Reserve Champions Miller and Sparking Metallic (by Metallic Cat) had a composite of 645 (218 herd/217 rein/210 cow). The Washington state resident and 2014 mare bred by Gardiner Quarter Horses earned $5,950.
As a daughter of Sparking Train, the mare is a half or full sibling to a number of derby champions in 2018. Her maternal half-brother, Bet He Sparks (by Bet Hesa Cat), won the 2018 NRCHA Derby Intermediate Open Championship with Clayton Edsall. Full sibling Metallic Train was 2018 NRCHA Derby Intermediate Open Reserve Champion, and in March won the NRCHA Stakes Open and Intermediate Open championships.
The Non-Pro Intermediate Reserve Championship went to Toni Hagen Heath and Ima One Time Wonder. She and the homebred daughter of Equi-Stat Elite $14 Million Sire One Time Pepto earned a composite of 645.5 (215.5 herd/212.5 rein/217.5 cow).
The 2013 mare Heath rode to the NRCHA Stakes Novice Non-Pro Championship was one of two foals by the mare My Legend Del Cielo (by Gallo Del Cielo) that the Oregon resident showed in the finals at this year’s NRCHA Derby. She piloted the mare’s 2014 foal, Legend De Lena (by Smart Peppy Doc), to sixth in the Non-Pro and fifth in the Intermediate Non-Pro.
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