Kit Kat Sugar, Pete Branch Win Bonanza 4-Year-Old Open; Two Divisions Feature Co-Champions

Pete Branch and Ronnie Rice
Stallion Kit Kat Sugar and trainer Pete Branch, 58, Farwell, Texas, who made finals at their first two shows in Fort Worth and Abilene, Texas, marked a 223 in Thursday’s 4-Year-Old Open finals at the Bonanza Cutting in Glen Rose, Texas, to earn $27,991.

Gelding Jewel Bars Cat and Ronnie Rice, 59, Centerville, Texas, Reserve Champions during the Open finals at December’s National Cutting Horse Futurity with a 225 to earn $121,334, concluded their second show with a final-go 222.5. They finished second by a narrow margin for the second straight time to earn another $22,393 this time.

Kit Kat Sugar (High Brow Cat x Sugar N Dulce x Smart Lil Ricochet), bred and owned by Lonnie and Barbara Allsup, Clovis, N.M., is the first foal out of a mare Branch liked, but never got to compete with much due to her early health issues. Her first foal has now earned a combined $65,772 by making the finals at his first three limited-age shows.

“I’m really, really pleased,” Branch said. “He’s a good horse and a lot of fun to ride.”

Jewel Bars Cat owner Finis Welch joked that he might have to start calling his standout stallion (High Brow Cat x Sprats Dualin Jewel x Lenas Jewel Bars) “Bridesmaid” after his second consecutive strong but second-place finish. The horse’s veteran trainer, Rice, said he doesn’t think the proposed new barn name would stick.

“If I don’t screw up, he’ll get his win,” Rice said. “He’s a really nice horse. He’s a unique horse. He has a real easy way of moving and he’s a cow horse.”

Rice, who turned 60 a few days later, on Feb. 21, said he and Branch certainly have an appreciation for being armed with two more great horses, following many years as trainers and riders.

“You don’t ever know when you are going to get your last good horse,” Rice said. “He (Jewel Bars Cat) is a good one.”

The Bonanza Cutting, celebrating its 30th Anniversary with this event, attracted 603 entries. That’s an increase of 19 entries from last year. It continues through Saturday.

Sly Playgirl, Special Nu Baby 5/6 Co-Champions
Jaime Snider

Sly Playgirl, a 5-year-old mare who had previously earned less than $70,000, and Burleson, Texas, trainer Jaime Snider marked a final-round 221 to tie 6-year-old standout Special Nu Baby and her trainer, Matt Gaines, Weatherford, Texas, as 5/6-Year-Old Open Co-Champions as the Bonanza Cutting.

Special Nu Baby (Dual Rey x Nu I Wood x Zack T Wood), owned by Gary and Shannon Barker, Madill, Okla., and trained and ridden by Gaines throughout her career, had previously earned more than $260,000. She added about $22,213 while completing a comeback from an injury that limited her activity last year.

Sly Playgirl (That Sly Cat x Taquitas Playgirl x Freckles Playboy) and Snider tied for the title to pick up a about $22,213 for horse owner Luis De Armas, Weatherford, Texas. De Armas and the horse that he purchased in mid-summer also will compete in Saturday's Non-Pro finals. Snider, 32, a a frequent finalist, picked up his first high-profile limited age win.

One Time Royalty (One Time Pepto x Royal Serena Belle x Shorty Lena), the 2007 stallion who won the 2010 NCHA Futurity Open with a record-breaking 230, posted his best finals showing since by finishing a close third with a 220.5. Lloyd Cox, Fort Morgan, Colo.

One Time Royalty’s career-long trainer, piloted him to that finish for SDM Quarter Horses, Goodiwindi, Queensland, Australia. SDM Quarter Horses, owned by Sue Merchant, purchased One Time Royalty from his original owners Jeffrey and Sheri Matthews, Weatherford, Texas, last August. Jeffrey Matthews bought the horse as an embryo from breeder Double Dove Ranch, Benbrook, Texas.

Sandra McBride & Kelle Earnheart
Kelle Earnheart, Sandra McBride 4-Year-Old Non-Pro Co-Champions

Co-Champions Kelle Earnheart with red-hot mare Dual With Style and Sandra McBride with emerging prospect Loreyna marked 219.5s during the 4-Year-Old Non-Pro finals and earned twin $15,329 checks.

Earnheart, 26, Weatherford, Texas, already a career earner of more than $1.2 million as a cutter, continued a recent hot streak with her latest co-star, Dual With Style (Reys Dual Badger x Moms Stylish Pepto x Peptoboonsmal). Earnheart and the same mare were also winners at mid-January’s Abilene Spectacular Cutting in Abilene, Texas, and Co-Reserve Champions at early February’s Tunica Futurity in Tunica, Miss.

McBride, Azle, Texas, has earned more than $545,000 as a cutter. She guided Loreyna to the National Cutting Horse Association Non-Pro finals in nearby Fort Worth, Texas, in late fall. This was the first time McBride and Loreyna (Dual Rey x Prelima Lena x Doc O'Lena) had reached a limited-age final. McBride competed in Fort Worth last year with a full sister of her co-champion.

Kyle Manion
Holly Is Smooth, Kyle Manion Top 5/6-Year-Old Non-Pro

Holly Is Smooth and her breeder/owner Kyle Manion, Aubrey, Texas, posted an event-best 226 score to earn $20,370 as 5/6-Year-Old Non-Pro Champions, while Reserve Champions Carl Smith, Jackboro, Texas, and Mizz Savanah Taz earned $16,510 with a 223.

Holly Is Smooth (Smooth As A Cat x Holly N Zack x Zack T Wood) and her trainer Matt Miller, Poolville, Texas, also placed fourth in the 5/6-Year-Old Open finals at the same show with a 218.5. Those checks pushed the prior career earner of $77,590 over the $100,000 mark early in her 6-year-old season.

Carl Smith and his wife, Shawnea, purchased 5-year-old Mizz Savannah Taz (Pepto Taz x Savanah HIckory x Doc's Hickory) early last spring.

Amateur 4-Year-Old

Susie Koser, Weatherford, Texas, accomplished a long time dream by winning a championship in aged event cutting as she and her mare Scooters Stylish Kit marked a 217 in the finals for the Amateur title and $4,662.

Don and Carol Dewrell, Fort Walton Beach, Fla., bred Scooters Stylish Kit and Koser bought her at the same sale where she sold another favorite horse. Koser credits cutting trainer Paul Hansma and her friends Ben and Jan Emison, all of Weatherford, Texas, for giving her a good start in the cutting industry.