With 10 spots in the richest reining event of the year up for grabs, a lineup of some of the best riders in the business converged at the Cactus Reining Classic in Scottsdale, Arizona. They were there to qualify for the Million Dollar Invitational at The Run For A Million, and they didn’t hold anything back.
When the smoke cleared, Equi-Stat Elite $6 Million Rider Shawn Flarida and flashy buckskin stallion Spooks Gotta Spark headed the list with a huge 228.5 score. Flarida, along with nine other riders, is now eligible to compete at the Invitational during The Run For A Million (TRFAM) scheduled from Aug. 18-21 at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The list of 10 riders who reined their way into the big event includes the first-ever non-pro rider to earn a spot, Gina Maria Schumacher.
Originally from Germany, Schumacher is a multiple NRHA World Champion who has won prestigious non-pro limited-age event titles in Europe and the United States. She marked a qualifying score of 224 aboard Gunnastopya, a son of Gunntrashya that she rode the day before to the co-championship in the Cactus Reining Classic Derby Level 4 Non-Pro.
Riders who qualified at the Cactus Reining Classic will join those who already qualified for the Million Dollar Invitational by placing at the top of the $100,000 Open Shootout in 2019 at The Run For A Million: Dany Tremblay, Jason Vanlandingham, Cade McCutcheon, Andrea Fappani and Matt Mills. The Run For A Million, which was one of many shows canceled last year due to the pandemic, was held for the first and so far only time in 2019. That year, Cade McCutcheon and Craig Schmersal shared the win in the Million Dollar Invitational.
Run For A Million Qualifiers at Cactus:
The list of riders who qualified for the Million Dollar Invitational, their score and the horse they rode during the Cactus Reining Classic qualifier (with horse’s pedigree):
NOTE: Competitors can ride any horse in the Million Dollar Invitational. They do not have to ride the horse they rode in a qualifying event.
- Shawn Flarida, 228.5, Spooks Gotta Spark (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Dolittle Lena x Shining Spark)
- Kole Price, 227, Gunna Stop (Gunnatrashya x Stop Little Sister x Magnum Chic Dream)
- Casey Deary, 227, Americasnexttogun (Walla Walla Whiz x Americasnextgunmodel x Colonels Smoking Gun [Gunner])
- Nathan Piper, 226.5, Patriot (Smart Spook x Dunit A Lil Ruf x Lil Ruf Peppy)
- Martin Muehlstaetter, 225, Spooks Grand Slam (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Shiney Diamond Lady x Shining Spark)
- Tom McCutcheon, 224, Gunners Rockstar (Gunners Special Nite x Belle Starr Dun It x Hollywood Dun It)
- Gina Maria Schumacher, 225, Gunnastepya (Gunnatrashya x SDP A Lasting Step x Wimpys Little Step)
- *Arno Honstetter, 224, Ms Dreamy (Magnum Chic Dream x A Gal With A Gun x Gunner)
- Brian Bell, 223, Mr Royal Hollywood (Hollywoodstinseltown x Cee Miss Hollywood x Custom Crome)
- Craig Schmersal, 223, Setting Off To Town (Gunners Tinseltown x Setting Off Smart x Smart Spook)
* Arno Honstetter also marked a 223 in the qualifier aboard Special Made Whiskey, a son of Gunners Special Nite and out of Starlight Acres (by Paddys Irish Whiskey.