North Sail Solitaire and Austin Seelhof slid to a 225 in the Nampa Idaho Civic Center Arena to thrill the crowd and claim the Derby Levels 4 and 3 Open championships. The 2013 stallion by Topsail Whiz brought home a check of $6,844 for owners/breeders Lyle and Marie Whitmarsh, of Cochrane, Alberta, Canada.
“We had a really good show. I was obviously really happy with how the stud won the derby for me,” Seelhof said. “I had a couple of my rookies do really well there as well and was really happy with all of the horses, actually. They all looked good.”
North Sail Solitaire, who is out of the Colonels Smoking Gun (Gunner) mare Solitary Gunner, had $10,407 in lifetime earnings before he set hoof in the arena in Idaho.
“I’ve had him for about a year and a half now. He’s just a freak of nature stopping and always has been, so it makes it a lot of fun to do,” said Seelhof, who has $175,637 in lifetime earnings, according to Equi-Stat. “He’s just a super athletic and pretty good guy to be around.”
Seelhof couldn’t be more pleased with their success in Idaho. They came and did exactly what they set out to do — win. According to the trainer, “Cruise” missed showing his 4-year-old year, which made him a little “green” in comparison to the other 5- and 6-year-olds he was showing against last year.
“He was always in the top few horses, and he was just getting better and better as the year went on,” said Seelhof, who explained that while their plan was to take him to some of the larger derbies this year, they needed to make sure he was ready. “I said coming into this that I wanted to push him and just leave it all out there and see if I could mark 75s on him, and it’s funny because that’s what he went and did. It was really exciting for me because I had that goal in mind and we accomplished it, so it was really nice.”
Cruise made everyone proud in Idaho, which was no surprise to his trainer, who said he is a “really good-minded horse.”
“He’s very chatty. He’s a very vocal dude in the barn. Anytime anything moves, he’s got to say his piece about it,” Seelhof explained. “He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, though, he’s really playful. He’s easy to have around. He’s a very good boy.”
The Whitmarshes and Seelhof have big plans for Cruise, and they couldn’t be more excited to see what the future holds.
“I’d like to thank Lyle and Marie, as well as my wife and my family,” Seelhof said. “My wife was there to help and she really pushes me, so it’s a really fun deal when the whole family is in on it. Thanks to our parents who were at home looking after our kids.”
Seelhof also thanked Tim Bauer from Equine Oasis, who donated saddles to the event.
“They were really nice saddles,” Seelhof said. “That was really great of him to do that. I really appreciate that a lot.”
Derby Level 2 Open
Sparkin Dun It blazed a trail into the Best Little Derby in the West arena from the 56th draw. He and rider Jackson Porath slid to a score of 223 to secure the Derby Level 2 Open title, as well as the Derby Level 3 Reserve championship, for a combined check of $4,047.
While the Derby was the first time Porath showed Sparkin Dun It, the 2013 Pale Face Dunnit gelding wasn’t a new partner for him.
“A good friend of mine, Jordan Knudson, who used to work for me, got the horse as a 3-year-old and I had the horse in training on and off throughout his 3-year-old year,” Porath said of the horse who is out of Sparkin Personality (by Jacs Electric Spark). “When the horse came up for sale, I had a customer buy him because I already knew the horse well. Christopher Park has had him for the last six months now, and that’s the first time I’ve really ever shown him.”
According to Porath, who has $242,376 in lifetime earnings, what makes the Hickory Creek Ranch-bred gelding a stand-out in the arena is his stop. Sparkin Dun It, who had $38,014 in lifetime earnings before heading to Idaho, also was able to handle rider transitions between Porath and Park throughout the show seamlessly.
“It was a good show. C.J. [Park] learned a lot on the horse, and it was just a good experience for the horse and rider all the way around. It was great!” Porath said after their win, giving all the credit to Sparkin Dun It’s owner. “Thanks to C.J. because he’s one that allowed me to show him and trusted my judgment on where he should spend his money. It really doesn’t matter about me; it’s about him and his horse.”
Derby Level 1 Open
After watching Whizzen In The Wind and Deanna Lally fly through their pattern beautifully, the judges awarded the duo a 222.5, which secured their place as Derby Level 1 Open Champions.
“I love that show! We always have a good time there,” Lally said after she and the 6-year-old Whizkey N Diamonds stallion tied for Reserve in Level 4, third in Level 3 and Reserve in Level 2 with Face Chics Love and Nicole Hutchings.
According to Lally, there is just something about Whizzen In The Wind this year.
“He has a peacefulness and a calmness about him this year, just really happy in his job, and I think part of that is just him growing up,” Lally said after she and the stallion brought home a combined check of $5,655 for owner Susan Pearson of Maple Valley, Washington. “He just feels like a really solid citizen now — he’s a real fun horse for sure! He just keeps getting better.”
Whizzen In The Wind, who is out of Very Smart Flo Jo (by Very Smart Remedy), was bred by Joyce Pearson, of Hailey, Idaho. He arrived in Idaho with $18,929 in lifetime earnings prior to the show.
“He may be a stallion, but he’s so easy and quiet, you forget that he’s not a gelding, Lally said. “He’s really kind, he likes to work and he’s pretty much honest. What you see is what you get with him. He’s just always right there.”
While he may be quiet outside the arena, Whizzen In The Wind goes hard in the sand, thrilling spectators and his rider, as well.
“He’s got the cool, huge, ground-devouring stop that’s super fun, and he kind of stops the same in every type of ground I put him in, so he has a lot of heart there,” Lally said, mentioning that he’s a plus-half marker across the board, but a plus-one stopper.
The duo’s success in Idaho was made all the sweeter since it was an early 50th birthday present for Pearson.
“She was excited to have this year start off good, and to start off doing good was a nice little birthday present for her,” Lally added.
The trainer, who has $41,909 in lifetime earnings, according to Equi-Stat, couldn’t thank Pearson enough for the opportunity to ride Whizzen In The Wind, or for their friendship, which has grown over the last five years.
“Susan is one of the most incredible people I have ever known in my life. I just love her, she has become my best friend,” Lally said. “I just knew this horse was the one when I first saw him and she trusted me on it, even though she at the time said, ‘I don’t know what you see. I don’t see it, but I trust you,’ and she followed through with it, and it’s been wonderful. I want to thank her for that!”
Lally and Whizzen In The Wind were next headed to Monroe, Washington, to compete in the Washington Reining Horse Association Classic, where the duo swept Levels 4, 2 and 1 last year.
4-Year-Old Derby Level 4 Open & Red Shirt Futurity Open
Face Chics Love & Nicole Hutchings
15S (Pale Face Dunnit x She And Chic Dunit x Smart Chic Olena)
Owner: Whitney Peterson, Snohomish, WA
Breeder: KC Performance Horses LLC, Bayfield, CO