The Run For A Million (TRFAM) Million Dollar Invitational was billed as the biggest event in the history of reining. The Las Vegas event, held Aug. 17, didn’t disappoint.
Twelve of the most successful trainers in the sport were invited to compete for a $1 million payout, and they rode a roster of some of the best reining horses to step into a pen in recent years. In the end, the judges could not separate the 229.5-point performances by Cade McCutcheon and Custom Made Gun, and Craig Schmersal and No Smoking Required.
The riders, each mounted on a son of the late Colonels Smoking Gun (Gunner), opted not to run off. They settled for a co-championship, pocketing $307,000 each.
The co-champions were among the riders featured in the reality series “The Last Cowboy,” which followed trainers as they prepared their horses for the Million Dollar Invitational. Footage from the lucrative reining event was featured in The Last Cowboy’s season finale, which aired Wednesday, Aug. 28, on the Paramount Network.
Million Dollar Invitational Champion Reactions
Winning the event was special for McCutcheon, a 19-year-old in his first year as a professional. It meant even more that he won it on Custom Made Gun, a horse bred and raised by his grandparents’ McQuay Stables Inc.
McCutcheon had great success in recent years with the palomino stallion, who sold last year for $300,000 to Italian interests and was shipped back from Europe for TRFAM.
“That horse and I have grown together over the last four years. Every year he gets better, and every year I get better. We’ve made each other better,” McCutcheon said after the win. “He’s made me who I am today, and there’s not another horse I would rather win this thing on.”
The show, produced by Brumley Management Group, was a National Reining Horse Association (NRHA)-approved event. Riders could bring any three horses to Las Vegas, ultimately narrowing it down to one to ride in the one go-round invitational.
The field of horses included NRHA Futurity Open champions, an American Quarter Horse Association World Champion and horses with multiple futurity or derby championships to their name.
Schmersal chose No Smoking Required, a 6-year-old sorrel stallion that had banked more than $169,000 in career earnings leading up to the invitational, with top finishes such as the Level 4 Open Reserve Championship at this year’s NRHA Derby.
The Equi-Stat Elite $4 Million Rider considered himself fortunate to ride in front of the energetic, packed crowd that traveled to the South Point Equestrian Center to see the dozen riders go for the big prize at the Million Dollar Invitational.
“Not very many people get to do that, and those 12 riders were very fortunate to be able to do that,” Schmersal said. “And, to have my horse fire like he did tonight, it’s a dream come true and a really big deal.”
Custom Made Gun & Cade McCutcheon
11S (Gunner x Custom Made Dunit x Hollywood Dun It)
Owner: Maria Cecilia Fiorucci, Rome, Italy
Breeder: McQuay Stables Inc, Tioga, TX
229.5 | $307,500
No Smoking Required & Craig Schmersal
13S (Gunner x Icing Required x Smart Chic Olena)
Owner: Wranglen Partnership, Scottsdale, AZ
Breeder: Carlo Orsi, Gainesville, TX
229.5 | $307,500
TRFAM Million Dollar Invitational Results:
|1(T)||Cade McCutcheon||Custom Made Gun||229.5|
|1(T)||Craig Schmersal||No Smoking Required||229.5|
|3||Andrea Fappani||Platinum Vintage||229|
|4||Shawn Flarida||Spooks Gotta Spark||228|
|5||Jason Vanlandingham||A Vintage Smoke||226.5|
|6||Abby Lengel||Gotta Twist It Up||225|
|7||Tom McCutcheon||Gunna Cash Ya||224|
|9||Franco Bertolani||Dun It For Whizkey||222|
|10||Jordan Larson||ARC Gunnabeabigstar||217.5|
|11||Duane Latimer||Ruf Lil Magnum||214.5|
|12||Matt Mills||Chic Dreamin||214|