* Photo by Anna Krause

Scooter Kat Surges to All-Time Leading Reined Cow Horse Money Mark

After years without any change at the top of the EquiStat All-Time Reined Cow Horse rankings, there’s a new face at the top of the list — Scooter Kat.

With $451,216 in earnings, Scooter Kat became the highest money-earning reined cow horse in the EquiStat database as of April 17. He took the lead from Call Me Mitch, who briefly held the top spot with $414,828. They both led the standings by passing great bridle horse and two-time World’s Greatest Horseman Champion Olena Oak, who long held the distinction with $376,636 in earnings.

Trainer Justin Wright, who has piloted Scooter Kat in all of his money-winning efforts, said the son of EquiStat Elite $8 Million Sire Kit Kat Sugar and owned in a partnership with Eric Freitas, Jimmy Draper and Wright showed how special he was early on.

“There was just something different about him. He showed up to work every day. If I had a bad day, he made my day better and didn’t hold that against me,” he said. “He showed up there wanting to learn and get trained and learn the sport at a very young age, and just continued that mindset through his career.”

That attitude hasn’t changed over the years.

“He’s so special-minded, and he’s a he’s a gifted athlete as well, but he has an incredible mind on him. Being shown as many times as he has and whatnot he still, he still has a desire … it feels like you’re riding a horse that wants to go win.”

The leaderboard changes happened at a time when the reined cow horse industry features some of the most lucrative bridle horse events in its history. The World’s Greatest Horseman paid roughly $150,000 to the winner this year, the American Performance Horseman paid $100,000 to the top reined cow horse and The Run For A Million raised the total purse of its Cow Horse Challenge to $200,000 this year.

Purses have been raised for younger horses as well, with the 2022 National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Snaffle Bit Futurity paying $200,000 to the Open champion.

Given the lucrative opportunities available, it’s very possible there could be movement in the standings by the end of the year.

Show Career of Scooter Kat

Scooter Kat took the lead on the all-time reined cow horse money-earner list thanks in large part to the $75,000 he earned for a runner-up effort in March in The American Performance Horseman, a special event for bridle horses held in conjunction with The American Rodeo. He overtook Call Me Mitch, who had previously vaulted to the top spot about a month earlier after winning $150,667 for the World’s Greatest Horseman Championship.

The road to ranking as EquiStat’s all-time leading reined cow horse started with Scooter Kat’s successful 3-year-old year. Under Wright, Scooter Kat was the 2018 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Reserve Champion. Earlier that year, they won the Futurity Open at the National Stock Horse Association (NSHA) Futurity.

The stallion owned by Eric Freitas continued to turn in superb performances during his derby years, winning the NRCHA Stallion Stakes Open twice (in 2019 and 2020) and the 2020 NRCHA Western Derby. He transitioned into the Open Bridle ranks, and last year won the Open Bridle Spectacular at the NRCHA Western Derby and the NSHA Snaffle Bit Futurity shows. He also won the Open Bridle Championship at the 2022 NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity.

In addition to his second-place finish earlier this year at The American Performance Horseman, Scooter Kat won the Open Bridle Championship and The Run For A Million qualifier at this year’s NRCHA Stallion Stakes. That qualified Wright for the $200,000 Cow Horse Challenge at The Run For A Million, which is scheduled for Aug. 16-19 at the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Future

For Scooter Kat, the future is has yet to be determined. While he has business to take care of in the breeding barn — his oldest foals are 3 years old, making him a freshman sire this year — Wright said the stallion hasn’t given any indication he wants to quit showing.

He said Scooter Kat has always been very good about preparing for a show, never tries to cheat Wright in the show pen and seems to be getting better and better.

“[Owners] Eric Freitas and Jimmy Draper and I, we were talking about it today, and there’s no real reason to think of retirement yet with all these exciting events out there,” he said.

For Wright, Scooter Kat is the kind of horse he dreamed of having some day during his career. Riding the stallion over the past five years has been a blessing, he said.

“I’ve talked about it with a lot of people and they say, ‘How did he change your career? Did he make you a better horse trainer?’ And, I would never be able to explain how much that horse taught me. I owe so much to him — I owe everything to him. He’s incredible horse and in a once-in-a-lifetime type of horse.

“Hopefully, I get fortunate to get another one someday, but I’m pretty satisfied that I was [just] able to have that one.”

All-Time Leading Money Earning Reined Cow Horses

Here are the top ten all-time leading money earners in reined cow horse as of April 17, 2023, according to EquiStat.

1Scooter Kat15S, (Kit Kat Sugar x Scooters Daisy Dukes x Dual Smart Rey$451,216 
2Call Me Mitch11S, (Metallic Cat x Miss Hickory Hill x Doc’s Hickory)$414,828 
3Olena Oak02S, (Smart Chic Olena x Fritzs Oak E Doakie x Doc’s Oak)$376,636 
4Topsails Rien Maker99S, (Topsail Cody x Jameen Gay x Toby Gay Bar)$371,472 
5Hott Rod15S, (Hottish x Sugars Smart Kitty x High Brow Cat)$350,749 
6Shine Smarter12M, (WR This Cats Smart x Shiney Tari x Shining Spark)$339,572 
7CD Dee Vee Dee05G, (CD Lights x Shiners Missy Jay x Shining Spark)$296,342 
8Rubys Radar10S, (One Time Pepto x Ruby Bagonia x Peppy San Badger)$294,439 
9Duals Lucky Charm13G, (Dual Smart Rey x TRR Ms Pepcid Olena x Pepcid)$282,358 
10Chics Magic Potion00S, (Smart Chic Olena x Remedys Magic Potion x Remedys Reply)$280,150