Six set of finalists put on a show worthy of the Las Vegas lights on Saturday, April 3, at the South Point Arena & Equestrian Center for the 2021 National Reined Cow Horse Association Stallion Stakes Open and Non Pro Finals! When the last cow was circled Erin Taormino and Hazardouz Materials, owned by Linda Mars, were the Open Champions, and Hope Mills and A Gritty Kitty took home the Non Pro Championship.
Though there were minimal bodies in the stands due to COVID-19 restrictions in place in the state of Nevada, every seat emptied when cow crew boss Lloyd Faria carried the American flag to John Wayne’s classic “America, Why I Love Her.” NRCHA member Lexi Kastanis sang the National Anthem to kick of the Finals and that uplifted spirit carried into the Non Pro, and then Open, rein work.
The night wrapped with the crowd favorite fence work. The top three from each division—Non Pro, Intermediate Non Pro and Novice Non Pro as well as Open, Intermediate Open and Novice Open—re-entered the arena to learn who was taking home top titles.
In addition to awarding the horse, rider and horse’s owner, the NRCHA Stallion Stakes pays an incentive to the stallion owner that subscribed to the NRHA Subscribed Stallion Program. The program is open to any breed stallion and stallion nominator must be NRCHA members in good standing. Stallion owners can annually nominate that stud’s foal crop so that it can be eligible for the incentive that pays as a portion of the Stakes event’s added money.
Winning $43,789.40 as your 2021 NRCHA Stallion Stakes Derby Open Champion is Erin Taormino riding Linda Mars’ 2016 stallion Hazardouz Material (Metallic Cat x Scooters Daisy Dukes x Dual Smart Rey). The red roan and the Lipan, Texas, NRCHA professional scored a whopping 666.5 composite score to best the reserve horse and rider team by a half-point.
“I kept telling myself to work with what [cow] they kick out; work with what you get and that’s what I did,” she said of her fence run. “That cow was good and my horse felt phenomenal.”
Receiving the win was emotional for Taormino, whose son joined her in the saddle for her dirt floor interview with Russell Dilday after the event. She was brought to tears discussing her support system.
“I couldn’t do it without them, they’re amazing people. They’re the reason I can do this,” Taormino said through tears. “My family hasn’t been able to come down from Canada [because of COVID-19] my friends, my family, I have the best support system in the world.”
Yesterday, Friday, April 2, Taormino rode the stallion to a 218.5 in the herd work. In the Finals rein work a 224 and a matching 224 down the fence carried the win. There were big scores during the four sets of cow work, but it was Hazardouz Material who saved a show for near to the end of the night, with his go in the fourth set.
Open Stallion Stakes Champion was awarded a Bob’s Custom Saddle and a Gist buckle from the NRCHA, a straw hat from Western Legacy, a gift certificate for product from Platinum Performance and an UltraCruz prize pack from Santa Cruz Animal Health.
The Stallion Stakes champion sire, Metallic Cat, receives $3,500 from the Subscribed Stallion Incentive and a C.R. Morrison NRCHA trophy.
In reserve was Saddling At Sunrise (WR This Cats Smart x Sunshine Ingredient x Mr Sun O Lena), a 2016 stallion owned by the Burnett Ranches LLC, winning $32, 263.66 for the title with Kelby Phillips, of Weatherford, Texas, in the saddle. Their composite score of 666 (Herd 219 /Rein 221.5 /Cow 225.5) included the high cow score of the night. Phillips was reserve and third place in the Finals. The Reserve Champion received a Gist buckle from the NRCHA, a $300 gift certificate from Farnam for product, an UltraCruz prize pack from Santa Cruz Animal Health and a pair of DyNo Turn fleece bell boots from the NRCHA.
The sire of the reserve champion, WR This Cats Smart, receives $2,000 from the Subscribed Stallion Program incentive.
Hope Mills riding A Gritty Kitty (Chiquita Cat x Scooters Daisy Dukes x Dual Smart Rey) topped a deep Non Pro field of talented horses and riders to capture the 2021 NRCHA Stallion Stakes Non Pro Derby Champion title. Mills and the 2017 mare scored a 653.5 (Herd 217/Rein 216.5/Cow 220) for the win.
Having only purchased the mare right before the Celebration of Champions in February, Mills brought her to the Stakes as a trial run. To say A Gritty Kitty passed the test is an understatement.
“This is our first big horse show together, so I am super happy that everything worked out,” Mills said. “She is super special because she gives me so much and tries so hard. We are still trying to get meshed together. My expectations weren’t high because we are getting to know each other. She just gave it all to me.”
Coincidently, A Gritty Kitty was shown by Erin Taormino as a 3-year-old, and is a half-sister to the Open Champion, sharing a dam in Scooters Daisy Dukes.
Mills has a lot more confidence going into their next premier NRCHA event, the DT Horses Western Derby in June, she said.
The Non Pro Champion is awarded $8,207.55 and receives a custom Bob’s Saddle and Gist buckle from the NRCHA, a straw hat from Western Legacy, a gift certificate for product from Platinum Performance and an UltraCruz prize pack from Santa Cruz Animal Health.
The stallion nominator for Chiquita Cat receives a C.R. Morrison NRCHA trophy and $1,500 from the NRCHA Subscribed Stallion Program Incentive.
Non Pro Reserve Champion Julia Winders also rode to the Intermediate Non Pro Champion title aboard Dual Smarty (Dual Smart Rey x Cats Gabriella Acre x Cats Merada), a 2017 stallion.
For the 648 (Herd 217.5/Rein 218.5/ Cow 212) that finished reserve, Winders pockets $6,556.04 and receives a Gist buckle from the NRCHA, an UltraCruz prize pack from Santa Cruz Animal Health, a $300 gift certificate from Farnam and a pair of DyNo Turn fleece bell boots from the NRCHA.
Siring the Reserve Champion is Dual Smart Rey, whose nominator receives $1,000 from the Subscribed Stallion Program.
The Stallion Stakes had $198,970 in added money for all of the reined cow horse events. The National Reined Cow Horse Association Stallion Stakes features 4- and 5-year-olds by NRCHA Subscribed Stallions competing in snaffle bits and hackamores. For our Non Pro Limited riders entered in the derby event, this includes their 6-year-old mounts. The Subscribed Stallion Program is open to any breed stallion and the stallion nominator’s must be NRCHA members in good standing. Stallion owners can annually nominate that stud’s foal crop so that it can be eligible for the incentive that pays as a portion of the Stakes event’s added money. Complete results for the event are at www.NRCHA.com/scoring/.
The National Reined Cow Horse Association is headquartered in Pilot Point, Texas. For information regarding membership resources, event schedules, the NRCHA Hall of Fame and more visit NRCHA.com.
Contact: Kate Byars
(Images available for web press)