• Photo by Waltenberry.

NRHA Derby Kicks Off With Record Numbers

The 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel started today with the largest entries in its history in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The show, which kicked off with ancillary classes, has more than 300 entries in the Derby Non-Pro and some 265 entries in the Open. 

The increased numbers were a last-minute turn-around officials believe was spurred by several new incentives for riders that came from sponsor support.  The Four Sixes Ranch’s guaranteed championship payments in all levels were a factor, as were the opportunities presented by the Story Book Stables Amateur Derby, the Tamarack Ranch Open Stakes, the Colston Paving Inc. Non Pro Stakes, and the GlycoGuard Novice Horse Non Pro and Open Derbies.

“The week before draw, we were substantially down in entries,” NRHA Events Manager Cheryl Cody said in a statement. “They were so much lower than expected that I had taken my concerns to NRHA management. We were nearly 50 horses off the 2019 numbers, and even more from the 2020 totals. The deadline to be in the draw was Tuesday, June 1, the day after Memorial Day. From Friday evening, May 28, until midnight on June 1, we received more than 200 late Derby entries, as well as a staggering number of horse show entries!”

In checking the NRHA’s historic records, this volume of last-minute entries is unprecedented. “That increase, along with the anticipated accompanying ancillary entries, will make for long days for exhibitors,” Cody said. “We have already taken steps to add a day to the show beginning in 2022. Unfortunately for this year, we will have to manage as best we can, because people have already made travel and vacation arrangements.”

The increase in entries required some changes to the schedule.

“The explosive growth in our entry numbers this year have far outpaced the available dates. We have adjusted where we could this year, and plan to add another day to the schedule in 2022,” said NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter. “We ask everyone for their patience and flexibility this year as we navigate through a record-setting, extraordinary event.”