In its debut, The Run For A Million proved it was a show that could draw the equine firepower.
Trainers in the competition brought the best horses they could find – including some equine stars lured out of retirement – to have the best shot at winning the one-run, $1 Million Invitational that is the cornerstone of the show scheduled for Aug. 18-21 in Las Vegas.
This year is no different.
Trainers can ride any horse, and the current list of horses under consideration for 2021 include winners of the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity, the NRHA Derby and multiple winners of the prestigious National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC). A number of horses who competed in the first Million Dollar Invitational at the 2019 The Run For A Million also are under consideration for this year’s event.
Quarter Horse News is reaching out to the 15 riders who qualified in the Million Dollar Invitational to learn which horses each rider is considering taking to the Million Dollar Invitational, and what makes those horses their stable stars.
Each week, we’ll chat up a few more trainers to reveal which horses are on their prospect list. Here, we talk to Kole Price, Casey Deary, Nathan Piper, Andrea Fappani, Matt Mills, Shawn Flarida, Dany Tremblay, Jason Vanlandingham and 2019 Million Dollar Invitational Co-Champion Cade McCutcheon.
Pilot Point, Texas
Pedigree: 15S (Gunnatrashya x Stop Little Sister x Magnum Chic Dream)
Career Highlights: NRHA Derby Level 3 Open Champion (2020), Cactus Reining Classic Level 4 Open Champion (2021) and High Roller Reining Classic Level 4 Open Champion (2019)
Price: “I know him really well, he’s always been there for me. I know him like the back of my hand, so I think that’s key. I know he’s a horse that can step up and I can call on him.”
Fast Fact: He’s a maternal half brother to one of Jason Vanlandingham’s contenders, Stopping In Jersey.
Gunnin For Chicks
Pedigree: 09S (Colonels Smoking Gun x Dun It By Chick x Hollywood Dun It)
Career Highlights: Level 4 Open Reserve Champion at the Tulsa Reining Classic (2015) and a finalist in NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open (2012), NRHA Derby Level 4 Open (2013 & 2015)
Price: “I’ve never shown him. I loved watching him, he always looked like a really good show horse. He sat for a while which I think will help him because his mind will be fresh, he’s going to feel good. That horse has a ton of maneuvers and I think he can step up and be a contender as well.”
Fast Fact: His mother, Dun It By Chick, has foaled 20 earners of more than $558,871.
Pedigree: 16S (Walla Walla Whiz x Americasnextgunmodel x Colonels Smoking Gun)
Career Highlights: NRBC Level 4 Open Champion (2020) and Cactus Reining Classic Derby Level 4 Open Co-Champion (2021)
Deary: “That horse doesn’t have a weak spot. If I can get that horse shown he’s probably going to be with best one that I’ve had. That horse is super talented everywhere so it’s just a matter of getting him in the right spot.”
Fast Fact: A breeding stallion in addition to being a show horse, Americasnexttopgun stood his first year at stud in 2021.
Pedigree: 15M (Walla Walla Whiz x Americasnextgunmodel x Colonels Smoking Gun)
Career Highlights: NRBC Level 4 Open Reserve Champion (2020), High Roller Reining Classic Level 4 Open Champion (2020) and third place in the NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open (2018)
Deary: “She has been a consistent contender everywhere she’s gone. I know I can count on her to show up and do her job.
Fast Fact: Second-leading earner for her sire, Walla Walla Whiz, falling just behind his leading earner, Shesouttayourleague, who is the mother of another of Deary’s contenders, Down Right Amazing.
Down Right Amazing
Pedigree: 17S (Colonels Smoking Gun x Shesouttayourleague x Walla Walla Whiz)
Career Highlights: third in NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open (2020) and NRHA Derby Level 4 Open Reserve Champion (2021)
Deary: “I’ll be using him in the $100,000 deal [$100,000 Open Shootout]. Down Right Amazing is [by] Gunner and out of Shesouttayourleague. It’s kinda the same pedigree [as my others] but flipped over.”
Fast Fact: Deary rode Down Right Amazing’s mother, Shesouttayourleague, to the NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open Championship. The horse’s maternal grandmother is Wimpys Little Chic, the richest show mare in the sport and a millionaire producer.
Pilot Point, Texas
Pedigree: 15S (Smart Spook x Dunit A Lil Ruf x Lil Ruf Peppy)
Career Highlights: National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC) Level 4 Open Co-Champion (2019), AQHA Junior Reining World Champion (2019) and NRHA Derby Level 4 Open Reserve Champion (2020)
Piper: “He’s my only one on the list. I don’t know what I could say [about him]. He’s an amazing individual that tries hard every day I’ve trained on him and every day I’ve shown him. He’s there for me every single day, he’s a good one.”
Fast Fact: His full brother, Ruf Lil Magnum, finished 11th in the 2019 $1 Million Invitational with trainer Duane Latimer.
Pedigree: 10S (A Sparkling Vintage x Starjac Miss x Hollywood Jac 86)
Career Highlights: 2015 NRHA Derby Level 4 Open Champion and third in the 2019 $1 Million Invitational at The Run For A Million.
Fappani: “He will mostly likely be the one unless he doesn’t feel at the top of his game. Right now he’s feeling really good. He’s a little older  than ideally what you’d want to show, he’s eleven this year but he feels physically and mentally still at the top of his game. He gave me a couple of great runs last year, we showed him a couple times. He feels like he’s really in good shape and more than that it’s the fact that he was second [behind co-champions No Smoking Required & Custom Made Gun] by half a point two years ago and that was a mistake I feel like I could have avoided.
“It was me, not him, so it never sat right. I wanted to give it another show with him.”
Fast Fact: Platinum Vintage will soon be joined in the show pen by his sons and daughters, as his first foals are 3-year-olds this year.
Pedigree: 16S (A Sparkling Vintage x Starjac Miss x Hollywood Jac 86)
Career Highlights: Level 4 Open Reserve Champion at the 2021 NRHA Derby and a Level 4 Open finalist at the 2018 NRHA Futurity.
Fappani: “I just came off being reserve with him at the Derby. It’s a full brother to [Platinum Vintage] that’s been really good this year. He won the Open at the NRBC with a 229 and came back and showed really strong at the Derby.”
Fast Fact: His and Platinum Vintage’s mother, Starjac Miss, has produced the winners of more than $523,379. In 2020, one of her sons – Starjac Enterprise (by Shiners Voodoo Dr) – drew a bid of $88,000 to be the highest-selling yearling at the NRHA Markel Futurity Sales.
Pedigree: 15S (A Sparkling Vintage x Chex Drive x Bueno Chexinic)
Career Highlights: Reserve Champion in the 2018 Tulsa Reining Classic Futurity Level 4 Open and third in the 2018 All American Quarter Horse Congress Futurity Open.
Mills: “He’s a pretty talented horse that’s got a lot of ability. He’s my front runner right now.”
Fast Fact: Second-leading earner for his dam, Chex Drive.
Pedigree: 15S (Walla Walla Whiz x Americasnextgunmodel x Colonels Smoking Gun)
Career Highlights: Level 4 Open finalist at the NRHA Futurity, NRHA Derby and National Reining Breeders Classic.
Mills: “He’s a horse I’ve had his whole career, so I know him real well. He’s a huge stopper and I feel like I haven’t had that big signature run on him yet but I think he’s going to have it, he’s close.”
Fast Fact: One of at least three full siblings out of NRHA Futurity Open Champion Americasnextgunmodel who are contenders for this year’s $1 Million Invitational. All three were sired by EquiStat Elite $3 Million Sire Walla Walla Whiz.
Peptos Lil Step
Pedigree: 14S (Wimpys Little Step x Peptos Lil Melody x Peptoboonsmal)
Career Highlights: Finalist at the 2021 National Reining Breeders Classic.
Mills: “He’s a big, strong, solid horse that is always ready to show. I definitely wasn’t going to leave home without him.”
Fast Fact: Peptos Lil Step’s pedigree is a cross between reining and cutting. His father, Wimpys Little Step, is a NRHA Hall of Famer who has sired the winners of more than $12 million in reining events. The maternal grandfather of Peptos Lil Step, Peptoboonsmal, was the 1995 National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity Open Champion whose progeny have won more than $25 million in cutting.
Pedigree: 15G (Hollywoodstinseltown x Maximum RPM x Einsteins Revolution)
Career Highlights: Won the 2021 Cactus Reining Classic Level 4 Non-Pro Co-Championship, the 2018 NRHA Futurity Level 1 Non-Pro and several Youth limited-age championships with Flarida’s son, Sam. A Non-Pro finalist is several major aged events.
Flarida: “I’ve helped my son with him a lot as far as getting him ready for the derbies. I think he’s won almost $180,000-$200,000. I’ve been around him a lot.”
Fast Fact: Even though Shawn Flarida has earned almost $7 million in the sport of reining, nearly all of Hollywooddirtysecret’s lifetime earnings came with Flarida’s son, Sam, in the saddle.
Pedigree: 13S (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Dolittle Lena x Shining Spark)
Career Highlights: Won The Run For A Million Open Qualifier at the 2021 Cactus Reining Classic and was fourth in the $1 Million Invitational at the 2019 The Run For A Million. Level 4 Open finalist in the NRHA Derby and the National Reining Breeders Classic.
Flarida: “I had him as a 2-year-old and he got hurt before the Futurity but I’ve been around him almost his whole life.”
Fast Fact: His mother, Dolittle Lena, has foaled the earners of more than $591,000 – a list that includes several full siblings to Spooks Gotta Spark.
Pedigree: 13S (Shine Chic Shine x Megas Sugar Baby x Marthas Mega Jac)
Career Highlights: Reserve Champion in the NRBC Level 4 Open (2017) and High Roller Derby Level 4 Open (2018). Won The Run For A Million $100,000 Open Shootout in 2019, which qualified Tremblay to compete in the 2021 Million Dollar Invitational.
Tremblay: “Crush is the total package. He’s a phenomenal mover, super athletic and has unique style.”
Fast Fact: Sold for $280,000 as a 2-year-old at the 2015 NRHA/Markel Insurance Futurity Prospect Sale, topping the sale.
Tinker With Dreams
Pedigree: 14S (Tinker With Guns x This Chicsdundreamin x Magnum Chic Dream)
Career Highlights: NRBC Level 4 Open Co-Champion (2021), AQHA Reining Senior World Champion (2020) and High Roller Derby Level 4 Open Champion (2018)
Tremblay: “He is the best minded stallion ever. He’s an incredible animal with a super brain. He is such a great show horse and he’s won a lot of money in Vegas.”
Fast Fact: Finished 10th in the $100,000 Open Shootout at the 2019 The Run For A Million.
Pedigree: 15S (A Sparkling Vintage x Lady Smoke Peppy x Mister Dual Pep)
Career Highlights: Reining Triple Crown Winner – won the Level 4 Open at the NRHA Futurity (2018), NRBC (2019) and NRHA Derby (2020). Also tied with Tinker With Guns for this year’s NRBC Level 4 Open Co-Championship, and was Co-Reserve Champion at the 2020 NRBC.
Vanlandingham: “If he’s healthy and sound, he’ll be the one that shows. Lord willing, he’ll stay [sound]. He’s never taken a lame step or had to have anything injected anywhere. He’s a very sound horse.”
Fast Fact: Finished fifth in the Million Dollar Invitational at the 2019 The Run For A Million.
Stopping In Jersey
Pedigree: 17S (Yellow Jersey x Stop Little Sister x Magnum Chic Dream)
Career Highlights: High Roller Futurity Level 4 Open Reserve Champion (2020) and NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open finalist.
Vanlandingham: “He’s all style and class. He’s super fancy to look at, super fancy going around, does all the maneuvers big and he’s a special horse.”
Fast Fact: His father, Yellow Jersey, just sired the winner of the 2021 NRHA Derby.
Pedigree: 17S (Shine Chic Shine x Best Stop x Custom Crome)
Career Highlights: Level 4 Open finalist in the NRHA Futurity (2020) and the NRBC (2021)
Vanlandingham: “He’s electric. He’s explosive in his turns and in his stops, he really swallows the ground.”
Fast Fact: His mother, Best Stop, has foaled the winners of nearly $500,000.
Pedigree: 13S (Gunners Special Nite x Taris Modern Design x Mr Boomerjac)
Career Highlights: NRBC Level 4 Open Champion (2018) and Reining By The Bay Derby Level 4 Open Champion (2019)
McCutcheon: “He feels really good. I don’t know him very well, but he’s a great horse.”
Fast Fact: Modern Gun’s maternal line includes the great broodmare Taris Little Vintage, who produced the winners of more than $776,000 – including two NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open champions.
Pedigree: 16S (Gunnatrashya x HA Chic A Tune x Smart Chic Olena)
Career Highlights: NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open Champion (2019) and Cactus Reining Classic Derby Level 4 Open Co-Champion (2021)
McCutcheon: “I know him really well.”
Fast Fact: Super Marioo provided McCutcheon with his first-ever win in the NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open.
Americas Supermodel or Americasnexttopgun
Pedigree: Full Siblings. (Walla Walla Whiz x Americasnextgunmodel x Colonels Smoking Gun)
Earnings: $204,662 (Americas Supermodel) and $175,736 (Americasnexttopgun)
* Americas Supermodel – NRBC Level 4 Open Reserve Champion (2020), High Roller Reining Classic Level 4 Open Champion (2020) and third place in the NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open (2018)
* Americasnexttopgun – NRBC Level 4 Open Champion (2020) and Cactus Reining Classic Derby Level 4 Open Co-Champion (2021)
McCutcheon: “Whichever one Casey [Deary] doesn’t show is my number three horse. We’re friends.”
Fast Fact: Their mother, Americasnextgunmodel, won the 2012 NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open championship.