After the first three horses walked into the pen during the Metallic Cat National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Summer Spectacular Derby Open, held Aug. 4 at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas, the score to beat was a 219. Summer Time Fun and James Payne did that and then some when they marked a 226 from the fourth draw. It seemed the Championship could be in the bag, but the finals weren’t over yet.
Nine draws later, from the lucky No. 13 position, Caution Piping Hot and R.L. Chartier matched Payne’s score. No other team was able to best it, and in the end, both riders settled as Derby Open Co-Champions.
“It’s really cool. It’s about the most excited I’ve been, ever,” said Payne, whose wife, Nadine, won the Derby Non-Pro Championship on a homebred mare shortly before his own victory. “Anytime like this that you can win, it’s a special thing. I’ve believed in that mare from the get-go, and I just needed to get her showed.”
During his run, Payne, an Equi-Stat Elite $3 Million Rider, first cut two cows that were on his list. His goal was to drive them up and show off the mare’s stops.
“I had a really good run going and on my third cut I didn’t have a lot of time to just dilly dally, so I cut a little bit of shape,” he said. “I just found a white cow that felt good and came with it and tried to work as long as I could.
“I felt like it was a good run,” he added. “There had not been a whole lot marked before that, and I felt like it was a good solid run so they could mark it big and then have everyone else come try to beat it!”
Summer Time Fun, or “Summer,” was bred by her owner, Ty Moore. She is by Metallic Cat and out of Hey Georgy Girl (by Wild Thing DNA), a mare Moore showed as an amateur who had earnings of more than $130,000.
“She was a real nice mare, one of my better mares I ever showed,” Moore said. “This mare [Summer] is built a lot better than her mom. She’s probably a little stronger than her mom — maybe that’s the Metallic Cat coming out in her. But she still has that cowy go-get-it attitude about her.”
Payne and Summer received a check for $32,344 for splitting the Co-Championship. They also won the Metallic Cat Incentive, which pays $100,000 to the highest-advancing Metallic Cat offspring in the Derby Open. The checks combined elevated the mare’s lifetime earnings to $173,970. Both Payne and Moore expressed their gratitude to Metallic Cat’s owner, Bobby Patton, for providing the incentive money.
“That was probably the most nerve-wracking part because there were a lot of really good Metallic Cats in there,” Payne said. “I knew I had a horse that could do it, it was just whether or not we got it pulled off because it’s very easy to mess up.”
While the Derby Open Co-Championship was special to all involved, for Chartier, an Equi-Stat Elite $2 Million Rider, it reiterated his belief in his training program.
“It’s my first win in this building, so it’s pretty special,” Chartier said. “And, it’s on a horse I trained, started as a 2-year-old til now, so it feels really good.”
Chartier didn’t have a strategy going in; he just wanted to start his run off well and then build it as he went along. He didn’t endeavor to beat Payne’s score, but he knew Caution Piping Hot could handle the pressure.
The Hottish gelding, who was bred by Jimmy and Lisa Bankston, is out of the Cats Merada mare Fort Worth Pipeline, a mare Chartier showed as a 5- and 6-year-old. He described the mare as a big stopper that was very gritty, and said those traits passed on to her son.
“He has a way of controlling a cow and reading a cow,” Chartier said. “He’s maybe not as dynamic looking right off the bat, but he always had a good thought process and would stop big as anything I’ve ever had.”
Caution Piping Hot was originally purchased by owners in Italy, who then sold him to another of Chartier’s customers. The horse sold again earlier this year to current owner Anderson Cattle Company.
“Blake Pattillo actually told me the Andersons were looking for something,” Chartier said. “They came out and tried him after Vegas [the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association Derby] and bought him instantly. Bella [their daughter] actually got on him and worked three turns. Steve and Michelle were like, ‘I’ve seen enough.’ They vetted him right then.”
Though Chartier hadn’t trained any horses for the Andersons before, they left the gelding in his program. The gesture meant a lot, he said, since it showed they trusted him to do what was best for their new horse.
“It’s always hard on a 4-year-old to go into a different program,” Chartier said. “It takes a while [for them] to get used to them [new trainers] and the change. It was exciting. I’ve never rode a horse for the Andersons, but they’ve always seemed like very good people, and I was excited about it.”
“He’s, No. 1, just a great person,” Michelle Anderson said in return about Chartier. “He’s been so good to Bella. The whole family I think is a great family. He’s an excellent showman, too.
“We’ve had a lot of Limited [Open] champions,” she added. “We’ve had a lot of horses make the finals and do good, but I don’t know that we’ve ever had one win in here. We’re just like on cloud nine.”
Bella added that she loves the atmosphere at the Chartiers’ place, and Steve said he was still in shock from Caution Piping Hot’s big run. All three agreed they were excited to just have a horse in the finals, and it was icing on the cake that their horse won, his $32,344 check boosting his bankroll to $74,202.
“We’re very excited he made it in here and just blessed,” Michelle added. “We knew he could do great. We knew he was a great horse and he could do good. He marked a 220.5 in the semis. He keeps going and getting better. It always takes the right run, the right cows, the right everything.”