The Brazos Bash Futurity Open Championship was led by a 217 marked from the first draw, which held strong throughout nearly the entirety of the class. That is, until the Dual Pep mare Tears From Heaven and Michael Cooper earned a 222 from the last draw with a performance that wowed the crowd and sent them home with the title.
“My first cut was the white cow that we’d seen on R. L. Chartier’s cut, that I was helping with right before my turn. Boyd Rice was like, ‘You got to try that cow,’ so I got to her and then I turned around, and the red blinders was there, and I was able to drive her up,” explained Cooper, an Equi-Stat Elite $3 Million Rider.
“Everything was a lot of cow, and after I turned around on my second cow, I was like, ‘OK, what do we do now, guys?’ We really only had two cows that we thought were a possibility because the cows were tough, and neither one of them had much to say. So we go in there, and I just cut shape on a black cow right up there at the end. It worked out good.”
It’s been a tearful season for the Cooper family, but Tears From Heaven has given them something to smile about in the wake of so much loss. Cooper lost his uncle, James Bradford, earlier this year, and his father, Calvin, just a month before the Brazos Bash.
“I haven’t been anywhere or done anything since the Derby [National Cutting Horse Association Summer Spectacular]. We’ve had a lot of turmoil, so this has been a nice last ride here,” said Cooper, whose father-in-law is in poor health, as well. “We’ve had a lick as a family, we’ve had a big lick, so this is kind of like a little pat on the back, a bright moment for us.”
Matt Miller stepped in for Cooper and hauled Tears From Heaven, a Gary Rosenbach-bred mare, to the West Texas Futurity, where the duo took Reserve in the Futurity Open and earned $12,000 for Rose Valley Ranch, of Vail, Colorado. They then traveled to West Monroe, Louisiana, for the Cotton Stakes, earning another $2,000 in the Futurity Open finals there.
While the Brazos Bash may have been Cooper’s “maiden voyage” in the show pen with the 2015 mare, it was a profitable one that brought in a check for $20,000, raising Tears From Heaven’s lifetime earnings to $34,000 in the first few months of her futurity season.
“She’s the first Dual Pep mare we’ve ever raised, and she means a lot to me because we worked so hard to get her here,” Cooper said of the competitor, who is out of the High Brow Cat mare Cat O Connor. “Cat O Connor is a mare we have, she’s a phenomenal mare and producer. She is so special to me, and I’ve not had one mare out of Cat O Connor that didn’t work, so I just kept trying and trying, and it ended up working out.”
Cooper’s faith in Tears From Heaven’s bloodlines carried him through her rocky start, when he had to take over her training as a 2-year-old because she was “really tough.” Every day was a struggle to teach her to collect up and get back like she needed to, according to Cooper. “But she had two things: she had a lot of cow, and she wanted to cut, and so for that I just kept on going with her.”
Here at the Brazos Bash, Cooper was able to see his hard work come to fruition first-hand, although he admitted to feeling timid going into the first go-round earlier in the week.
“I’m very glad I got to share her and have her do well. The plan going into the finals was just to cut clean. And today, I felt like I got a good work on her. We left her a lot fresher then we have been through the go-rounds and we’re trying to play with that. She’s feels better to me to be a little fresher, a little more horse. She’s not extremely strong, but she tries like a big horse,” Cooper said with a smile.
The Reserve title went to Stunner Cat (Metallic Cat x Absolutely Stunning x Smart Little Lena), piloted by T.J. Good who marked a 217 to earn a check of $17,000 for JLC Performance Horses, of Weatherford, Texas.