When Jim Vangilder rode into the arena at the Will Rogers last night, it was only the third time he had been aboard the 4-year-old gelding Take It Eazee. But that didn’t stop them from marking a 220 from the fourth draw to win the Metallic Cat National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Summer Spectacular Derby Limited Non-Pro finals.
“I certainly didn’t expect it; I feel very fortunate, but I had a lot of confidence going in,” said Vangilder, who purchased the horse in January 2017 for his daughter, Grace. “Riding a Roger Wagner horse, riding a Matt Gaines horse – I never worry about the horse. I’m focused on what I can do. I can try to cut the cows good, try to keep the horse in the right position, try to manage the clock and after that, it’s pretty much up to my help, the cow-pickers and the horse.”
In this case, the second cow made all the difference.
“Someone said we had 25 seconds left. I just made up my mind that as long as the cow stayed good, I was going to try to stay in there and not try to get off and go find another cow to cut,” Vangilder explained after his run. “The cows haven’t been cutting very easy today; if I could avoid another opportunity to mess up a cut, I wanted to do that. That white cow was really good and stayed away from me.”
Vangilder described the Smooth As A Cat son who is out of Zee Dualy (by Dual Pep) as a “smooth, big stopper, easy to ride and smart on a cow.” Those characteristics helped the Frank and Belinda Vandersloot-bred gelding bring home a check for $9,025, raising Vangilder’s lifetime earnings to more than $1.2 million – a number Vangilder doesn’t feel reflects his capabilities after a several year break from the show pen.
“That’s a nice total, but most of that was won many, many years ago,” he said. “I’m much older and don’t have the same abilities that I did back then. It’s not an example of where I am at now.”
While Vangilder may feel he’s just getting back into the swing of things, this isn’t his first appearance in the winner’s circle in 2018. In April, he was Co-Champion of the NCHA Super Stakes Classic Amateur aboard Smooth Sailing Cat (Smooth As A Cat x Pepto Olenas Dually x Peptoboonsmal) and in June, he rode Wicked Little Cat (Metallic Cat x Wicked Wanda Rey x Dual Rey) to the 4-Year-Old Unlimited Amateur title at The Non Pro Plus The Open in Ardmore, Oklahoma.
But Vangilder isn’t looking back; he has his eyes on a futurity future.
“I’d really like to be ready for the [NCHA] Futurity,” Vangilder said. “I’d just like to be prepared to show well. That’s what I wanted to do, take it step-by-step, and get better and better and better.”
The Reserve title went to Lauren Minshall, who marked a 218 aboard CR Sister Tuff (Woody Be Tuff x Dees Cats Meow x High Brow Cat) to collect $8,341. The duo will be return for the Derby Non-Pro finals this afternoon.
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