Sugar Smak and Rodrigo Taboga
When the dust settled, Sugar Smak and Rodrigo Taboga found themselves winners of the NCHA Futurity Limited Open. Photo by Video West Productions

Sugar Smak, Rodrigo Taboga Enjoy Sweet Taste of NCHA Limited Open Victory

Sugar Smak (Kit Kat Sugar x Mates Pretty Special x Smart Mate), a mare bred by Chet Burrows of Olney, Texas, and ridden by Rodrigo Taboga, won the Futurity Limited Open finals and more than $11,500 with a finals score of 220 at Fort Worth’s Will Rogers Coliseum. 

Some of the best riders and 3-year-old equine athletes competed against one another in the finals as they did their best to maintain control of the cattle – some of which were a bit “hard to cut,” said Taboga, who works for Fort Worth trainer Beau Galyean. It was Galyean, Taboga said, who helped him pick the cows he and Sugar Smak cut.

When it was time for Draw 17 to work — out of 25 finalists — Taboga confidently rode Sugar Smak, owned by Bridget Trenary of Nashville, Tennessee, toward the herd.

“She is a good mare. She just tries so hard,” he said. “I really trust her and believe in her.”

The cows in Wednesday’s finals were right up Sugar Smak’s alley.

“She has great stops. She stops hard all of the time,” Taboga said. “She was her best today because the cows were running and she likes it when the cows run and try to test her.”

Sugar Smak’s big, big stops are the mare’s best quality. Taboga, who had more than $441,469 in Equi-Stat earnings before his Futurity Limited Open win, said from the time he first rode Sugar Smak he could feel what a great horse she was going to be. 

The 30-year-old trainer said he had been waiting for the good things that happened to horse and rider at the Futurity.

 “I like her very much and it’s a pleasure always to ride her.”

Taboga is very grateful to Galyean for letting him ride and show such good horses this year.  

“This year was so good for me,” Taboga said. 

“I also want to thank my wife, Nila, for always staying together with me and helping me very much. I am thankful for everything that has just happened with me.”

One of the things Taboga likes best about Sugar Smak, he said, is how easy she is to work.

“She tries to go with the cow all the time, so I just try to let her be comfortable and do what she can do the best.”

When asked about Sugar Smak’s personality, Taboga said the quiet mare likes people.

“She’s not wild, she’s good.”

Taboga was a professional trainer in his native Brazil, where he, his father, Carlos, and brother, Luis, trained cutting horses and worked with amateur and non-pro riders on their ranch. Taboga said he had known Galyean’s father, Jody, for several years after meeting him at one of the cutting clinics he routinely put on Brazil. In 2018, Taboga went to work for Galyean’s son.

“Beau and Ashley opened the door for me to work at their ranch,” Taboga said. 

Although the future is up in the air, Taboga’s wish is to keep working with Beau and Beau’s family.

“Beau is very good and it is a pleasure for me to ride with” Beau and his crew. 

“It’s been a very good experience.”