Photo by Shane Rux Photography.

Fernando Salgado Wins in Brother’s Memory at Tulsa

The Invitational reining has quickly become one of the most lucrative incentive programs in the industry. But, just days before the event, trainer Fernando Salgado wasn’t going to go.

He just couldn’t.

Salgado, along with his family, was grieving the death of his older brother and mentor, Eduardo Salgado. A fellow horse trainer – Salgado said Eduardo “taught me everything” – Eduardo Salgado died on Aug. 30 after a fight with cancer. He was 42.

Even though Fernando had some nice horses in the barn – including FS Inferno, a promising Inferno Sixty Six stallion he’d been pointing toward The Invitational – his initial thought was to not attend the Tulsa Reining Classic, which was hosting this year’s Invitational.

“I called all my owners and I told them {it’s] family deal, and everybody was very supportive,” Salgado said in a phone interview from Tulsa . “And, I ended up going home on Saturday, my assistant was riding them all, and they felt good. And I knew if I would stay home, it would be even harder on my mind. So, I came here.”

And, in Tulsa, FS Inferno delivered. The stallion marked a 222.5, sweeping the top spot in the Level 4 Open in both The Invitational and the accompanying Silva Reining Horses Open Futurity.

“I’m amazed,” Salgado said after the Sept. 3 finals, of the embrace from the reining community at the Tulsa Show. “Everybody on our industry supported me, you know … friends, owners – everybody here just made me feel really comfortable.”

The wins came with $121,026 in prize money: a whopping $100,000 from The Invitational and $21,026 from the Silva Reining Horses Open Futurity. FS Inferno also banked another $5,525 for winning the Level 3 Open in the Silva Reining Horses Open Futurity for owner Gilberto Real.

The Invitational Reserve Championship went to OO7 and Gabriel Borges, who marked a 221 to earn a $60,000 check for owner-breeder Lorenz Muller, of Otisheim, Germany. A bay stallion, OO7 is by Gunner Dun It Again and out of Solidly Spirited (by Spooks Gotta Whiz).

Riding For His Brother

For Salgado, the ride was about his brother. They grew up together in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, and both followed in the footsteps of their uncle, trainer Jango Salgado.

Jango Salgado worked for NRHA Hall of Fame member Doug Milholland, and found great success training reining horses in Brazil. Eduardo followed suit, winning multiple reining futurity championships in Brazil before moving to the United States, where Fernando had also relocated.

While in the United States, Eduardo rode horses to wins at several major reining events while amassing an EquiStat record of more than $350,318. He made the NRHA Futurity Open finals a number of times, and in 2011 rode Gunner Boy to the Futurity Levels 2 and 1 Open championships. He and Gunner Boy also finished second in that year’s NRHA Futurity Level 3 Open and seventh in the Level 4 Open.

Eduardo also found success at the Tulsa Reining Classic, riding Meradas Shining to the Level 4 Open Championship at the 2014 show. He and the mare, who had been imported from South America, would later placed 14th in that year’s NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open.

Eduardo Salgado, shown here winning the 2014 Tulsa Reining Classic Futurity Open with Meradas Shining, was a teacher and mentor to his younger brother and fellow trainer Fernando Salgado. • Photo by Waltenberry.

Fernando’s success this year in Tulsa was just the latest in what has been a huge year for him professionally – he’s had several top finishes leading up to the show, qualified to compete in the Million Dollar Competition at The Run For A Million and horses ridden by him have in 2022 so far earned more than $365,301, according to EquiStat.

“[Eduardo’s] a really good horse trainer, the one that taught me everything and we used to do a lot together,” Salgado said. “So, definitely it feels like he’s with me here. I feel very proud that I’m being able to continue what he started.”

Salgado said his success this year, both at Tulsa and in the months preceding it, has been a way to honor his brother’s skill as a horseman.

“It’s a relief feeling, just to show people what I learned from him and his name is included on that for sure,” he said.

Fresh Faces

With its more than $575,000 in added money, The Invitational is quickly becoming an important stop on the show circuit for trainers, non-pro riders and owners. Entries must be sired by stallions enrolled in the program, which is only open to junior stallions who have offspring earnings of less than $1 million in the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) at the time of enrollment. 

One of the reasons Salgado was excited about FS Inferno was because the stallion was eligible for The Invitational. And, while he initially thought he had three other horses pointing toward the NRHA Futurity, FS Inferno has shown over the course of his training that he is worthy of consideration as well.

“His best maneuver is stopping is a very big stopper,” Salgado said. “To me, what is making him kind of different than all the other horses as a 3-year-old is about his mind. I pushed really hard on my circles today, and I felt like could. I don’t think I did anything stupid, because mentally he was with me the whole time.”

The plan now is to keep FS Inferno healthy and happy headed up to the NRHA Futurity.

“Every time I showed him, it was very easy,” he said. “So I’m very excited.”


Thanks to his haul in Tulsa, FS Inferno is now the second-leading earner for his sire, Inferno Sixty Six, who has now sired the winners of more than $1.18 million, according to EquiStat. Among the stallion’s offspring, FS Inferno ranks second only to Winding Inferno, who last year was second at The Invitational Futurity Level 4 Open before going on to tie for the Reserve Championship at the 2021 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity Level 4 Open.

Bred by Raul Leal, FS Inferno also hails from a female family steeped in quality. His mother, FS Smart Doc Chic, is a full sister to noted broodmare and $879,661 producer Wind Her Up Chic – both mares  are by Smart Chic Olena and out of Wind Her Up Doc (by Docs Sidewinder).

FS Inferno’s mother also is a half-sister to Wind Her Up Shiner, a daughter of Shining Spark and out of Wind Her Up Doc, who is on the verge of becoming a million-dollar producer.

FS Inferno’s winnings in Tulsa pushed his dam’s lifetime progeny earnings to more than $192,109. With more than $130,950 in lifetime earnings – $121,551 earned at the Tulsa Reining Classic and another $4,399 from his previous start at the North American Reining Stakes – FS Inferno is his dam’s leading earner.

Salgado was excited for the success FS Inferno has earned for his owner, Gilberto Real, who the trainer said has always placed faith in him to do what he thinks is best for the horse.

“It’s very, very nice to have that kind of win for that kind of people that support me and my family and my business so much,” he said.