A field of talented reining horses made the cut for the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity Open finals.
Who will take the top prizes when they enter the pen one final time on Saturday, Dec. 4?
The Open first go took place Nov. 25-27, and the top horses from each level advanced to the semi-finals. Levels 3, 2 and 1 went through the pen on Tuesday, Nov. 30, and on Wednesday, the Level 4 Open semi-finals, presented by Not Ruf At All, featured the top 75 horses, plus ties. From there, the top 30 competitors (plus ties) with the highest composite scores in Levels 4-1, plus the top 10 in the Prime Time, advanced to the clean-slate Finals.
This year, the Level 4 Open exhibitors will be competing for a record-breaking $350,000 during the MS Diamonds TX L4 Open Futurity Finals — the largest limited-age event championship check in the Western performance horse industry. The Reserve Champion will still win a guaranteed $150,000, and third place will bank $100,000. Those places make up a large chunk of the NRHA Futurity’s $2,000,000 purse, made available thanks in large part to NRHA Futurity Challenge sponsors and the NRHA nomination program.
The bubble needed to earn a berth in the Level 4 Open Finals was a 437.5. In the Level 3 Open, it took a 433.5 to advance. Level 2 riders had to mark at least a 425.5, while in the Level 1, it took a 415 or more. To make the Top 10 in the Prime Time Open, riders needed to earn at least a 435.
Level 4 Open
Topping the Level 4 semi-finals and securing their spot in the finals with a composite of 445.5 was NRHA Six Million Dollar Rider Shawn Flarida riding Shiner On My Eye. The duo marked a 223.5 in the first round and a 222 in the semi-finals. Shiner On My Eye, by EquiStat Elite xxx Million Dollar Sire Shiners Voodoo Dr and out of Flashy Lil Step (by Wimpys Little Step), is owned by NRHA Million Dollar Owner Robert Santagata. The colt was bred and nominated by Empire Ranch. Flarida and Shiner On My Eye also top the Prime Time Open.
Flarida, a five-time NRHA Futurity Champion, also took second in the Level 4 semi-finals on Alpha Jac Sparrow (Spooks Gotta Whiz x Chexanicki x Bueno Chexinic) with a 445. Alpha Jac Sparrow, owned by Fritz Leeman, was bred and nominated by Alpha Quarter Horses LLC.
Level 3 Open
In the L3 Open, Matt McDowell rode Xtra Whiz On Ice, owned by Elisha Irwin, to the highest composite, a 442. Xtra Whiz On Ice (SG Frozen Enterprise x Lil Ruf Whiz Qhiz x Lil Ruf Peppy) scored a 221 in the first go and a 221 in the semi-finals. Silver Spurs Equine bred and nominated Xtra Whiz On Ice.
Level 2 Open
Jesse Beckley held the top spot in the Level 2 Open on Trashinyurdreams, owned by Norma Siebert. Trashinyurdreams, who was nominated by Rhodes River Ranch, was sired by NRHA Five Million Dollar Sire Gunnatrashya and is out of This Chicsdundreamin (by Magnum Chic Dream). The pair scored a 220 in the first go, which combined with their 220 in the semi-finals for a composite 440.
Level 1 Open
Shining Like Flinn, owned by Pastorino Hay & Ranch Supply and nominated by Mary Jansma, carried Wade McDonald to the No. 1 placing in the Level 1 Open with a 432.5 after marking a 216.5 in the first go and a 216 in the semi-finals. Shining Like Flinn is by In Like Flinn and out of Lil Shining Suzana (by Shining Spark).