John Mitchell and Sweet Lil Kit Kat * Photo By Suzanne Sylvester
John Mitchell and Sweet Lil Kit Kat * Photo By Suzanne Sylvester

Last-Minute Rider Change Doesn’t Stop Sweet Lil Kit Kat from Breeder’s Invitational Win

Sweet Lil Kit Kat was unfazed by a last-minute rider change in the 2023 Breeder’s Invitational Challenge Open Classic Finals held May 15, 2023, at Expo Square in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Armando Costa Neto was in surgery while close friend and EquiStat $5 Million rider John Mitchell piloted the 2017 bay mare to the win, marking 225.5 to win $16,001.25. Earnings from the Breeder’s Invitational will push Sweet Lil Kit Kat’s total EquiStat earnings over $100,000.

Neto Armando Costa
Armando Costa Neto

“Armando fell off his scooter the night before the finals, and as we were loading him in the ambulance, he asked me to show her,” Mitchell said. “He is like family to us. He stayed with us three or four years before getting his own program going, and it was pretty special to get that result for him.”

Armando currently has over $1 Million in EquiStat earnings.

Mitchell had ridden the mare a few times as a 3-year-old and worked two cows before heading into the finals. He knew the mare could win if she got good cattle in front of her. Their draw was two after his go aboard Slate River Ranch’s 2018 sorrel mare Janie Wood (Stevie Rey Von x Junie Wood x Nitas Wood), who scored 217 to tie for 12th and win $2,563.51.

“Kit Kat can read a cow so well it gives her an advantage over a lot of cattle you cut,” he added.

Mitchell described Kit Kat, by Kit Kat Sugar and out of Sweet Smoke Lena (Sweet Lil Pepto), as a phenomenal horse who is smart about a cow. She is owned by Renato Rezende Barbosa.

“It’s a special win because it was one of those situations where I was basically helping a family member,” Mitchell said. “Everyone here wanted her to do well and supported her.” Mitchell spoke with Costa on Monday evening and filled him in on the news. Costa, who was in good spirits, relayed that doctors said his surgery went well and anticipated being home on Tuesday.