A grueling 15-hour show day and more than 50 Level 4 Non-Pro competitors couldn’t separate Sam Flarida and Gina Marie Schumacher, who became the Cactus Reining Classic Level 4 Non-Pro Derby Champions.
On Friday, March 19, the runs inside the Westworld complex in Scottsdale, Arizona, last until 11 p.m. When the dust settled, Flarida and Schumacher had both scored a 221.5, each winning $6,088.
“There’s a lot of people here and it’s just been a huge competition,” Flarida said.
Flarida rode Hollywooddirtysecret, a 2015 gelding by Hollywoodstinseltown and out of Maximum RPM (by Einsteins Revolution). For the seasoned team, traveling from Ohio to Arizona and still pulling out all the stops –literally –had Flarida feeling proud.
“I went in and tried to stay clean in my turns, not to overdo it or underdo it. I just wanted to stay penalty free. I knew from the moment we loped off in his left circles that he was locked in and ready to go. I just put my hand down and let him be him… show him off and let him do what he does,” Flarida said.
Hollywooddirtysecret sailed through the pattern, and according to Flarida, the gelding is one of the most fun horses he’s ever shown. The duo has been in the pen together since 2018, and have now earned more than $150,000, according to Equi-Stat.
“You can always be on offense. You never have to be on defense or worry about something being wrong,” Flarida said.
He wanted to thank parents Michele and Equi-Stat Elite $6 MillionRider Shawn Flarida, along with his family for their support.
Gina Maria Schumacher & Gunnastepya
European Gina Maria Schumacher brought the heat and earned the Level 4 Non-Pro Co-Championship with new partner Gunnastepya, a 2016 stallion by Gunnatrashya and out of SDP A Lasting Step (by Wimpys Little Step). Prior to the Cactus Classic, Gunnastepya had $19,480 posted to Equi-Stat. With his newest win, he edged into the $25,000 benchmark.
“The competition was tough for sure, but so much fun because it motivates me even more when I compete against other really good riders,” Schumacher said.
According to Schumacher, this their first show together, and she had only gotten to ride Gunnastepya at the XCS Ranch in Texas. Regardless, Schumacher’s experience and Gunnastepya’s ability got the job done. They not only won the Derby Non-Pro on Friday, but followed it up on Saturday in the Derby Open with a ride that placed eighth overall and also qualified Schumacher for The Run For A Million.
“I was thrilled. He tried very hard, and was there all the way for me. I’m really lucky to ride a horse like him. Duane Latimer got him ready for me and I can’t thank him enough for all he does for us,” Schumacher said.