The Derby Level 4 Open Championship at the 2021 Cactus Reining Classic was a three-way tie between Gunna Stop, Super Marioo and Americasnexttopgun. • Photo by Waltenberry.

3-Way Tie for McCutcheon, Price and Deary at the Cactus Classic

The Cactus Reining Classic’s Level 4 Derby Open class was electric, and three horsemen became Co-Champions with scores of 227. Casey Deary riding Americasnexttopgun, Kole Price riding Gunna Stop and Cade McCutcheon riding Super Marioo each earned $12,493 for their efforts.

The class extended late into Saturday evening, and ran concurrently with The Run For A Million Open Qualifier. There were 83 entries in the Cactus Reining Classic Level 4 Open, giving it the feel of a major event, in addition to several extremely accomplished older horses that were only entered in The Run For A Million qualifier.

“I was certainly one of the saltiest reinings we’ve been to,” Co-Champion Casey Deary said. “It was good from the get-go when Shawn [Flarida] went in and scored a 228. He didn’t go in there and pull a knife, he pulled a big gun.”

Though he didn’t win in the Derby, Flarida had the high score of the night in the qualifier with Spooks Gotta Spark, an 8-year-old stallion by Spooks Gotta Whiz and out of Dolittle Lena (by Shining Spark). The run earned Flarida a coveted spot in the Million Dollar Invitational in August in Las Vegas.

Americasnexttopgun & Casey Deary

Deary, who made the trek to Scottsdale from Weatherford, Texas, with stallion Americasnexttopgun was critiquing his run in hindsight, despite his victory.

“That’s such an amazing horse. I don’t feel like I’ve gotten him shown to his full potential, which is frustrating for me. That horse is capable of being significantly better than he’s been for me. I had a ½-point turn penalty. But when you’re turning as fast as that horse turns, you’re moving at a high rate of speed and there is a small window [to stop],” Deary said.

The 2016 son of Walla Walla Whiz is out of NRHA Futurity Open Champion Americasnextgunmodel (by Colonels Smoking Gun) has won the Level 4 Open Derby at the National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC) with Deary. After the Cactus Reining Classic, his lifetime earnings stand at $143,646. 

Gunna Stop & Kole Price 

It may have been Kole Price’s first time showing at the Cactus Reining Classic, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell. Riding the 2015 son of Gunnatrashya, Gunna Stop, Price put up a score of 227. 

“Overall, he’s a pretty easy horse,” Price said. “Definitely doesn’t want to get in trouble. If he knows where he’s supposed to be, he’s going to go there nine out of ten times.”

Price and Gunna Stop have been competing together since 2019, and according to Price, this year has been the turning point for becoming “broke and solid.”

Out of the Magnum Chic Dream mare Stop Little Sister, Gunna Stop boasts lifetime earnings of $154,633, according to Equi-Stat

Super Marioo & Cade McCutcheon

For Cade McCutcheon, the night was all about performing in the Level 4 Open Derby. His Run For A Million spot was secured in 2019 because of his Co-Championship, meaning he and Super Marioo only had one focus. 

“He walked in and turned, and it was the best I’ve ever gotten him turned. He circled really honest, and ran and stopped big. The ground suited him well, even though I was in the end of my set,” McCutcheon said. 

The Gunnatrashya stallion earned McCutcheon his first NRHA Open Futurity Championship in 2019, and Saturday’s effort added another $12,493 to Super Marioo’s $264,480 in lifetime earnings.

“Super Marioo is a great, great horse. To play at the highest level, you have to have a few once-in-a-lifetime horses,” McCutcheon said.

Out of Smart Chic Olena mare Ha Chic A Tune, 5-year-old Super Marioo has so far had the potential to reach $300,000 in earnings.