The trainer from Big Fork wielded the big hammer on Saturday night.
Randy Holman of Big Fork, Mont., scored his first career win at the Calgary Stampede’s Cutting Horse Futurity presented by Wrangler, claiming the marquee Open Futurity class aboard Pretty Smart Cat. Then, he went right back out and doubled his pleasure by winning the Open Derby category on Olenas Pepto. In total, Holman’s daily double down at the Corral on Stampede Park was worth a cool $25,321.11.
“I started coming up here about 2000, and showed every year until 2006,” said Holman, whose winning mounts are both owned by Dave and Sandy Sabey of Bigfork, Mont. “That was the last time I was up here, because we’ve been doing the California run since 2006, but I just decided I didn’t want to make that long haul again this year.
“So I came up here to Red Deer (for the Canadian Supreme) and Calgary . . . and I’m very glad I did.”
The Stampede’s Cutting Horse Futurity, celebrating its 30th edition this year, is the premier cutting event in Canada, offering more than $300,000 in prize money and again attracting about 100 riders and 200 horses, including the sport’s elite, from as far away as Texas and Ontario. Saturday night featured the sublime skills of the professional riders and trainers competing in the Open categories, with finals in three equine age classes — the Futurity for three-year-olds, the Derby for four-year-olds, and the Classic Challenge for five- and six-year-olds.
Holman and Pretty Smart Cat scored a 218 in Open Futurity for $16,675.11, just nudging out Loren Christianson of Stony Plain, Alta., who posted a 217 aboard Annies Pretty Smart, owned by Darcy Geherman of Wembley, Alta., and collected the reserve champion’s cheque of $12,595.03. Over in Open Derby, Holman and Olenas Pepto rang up a 220 for a payday of $8,646, shading Philip Hanson of Weatherford, Texas, and LHR Smooth Jamie May, who scored a 216 for a runner-up prize of $6,681.
“Pretty Smart Cat held her end up and did real good tonight, especially with all the noise. This was kind of her first big deal. She’s a good little filly,” said Holman. “Olenas Pepto is a good little mare . . . I took her to the (National Cutting Horse Association’s) Super Stakes and made the semifinals on her there. We cut three really, really good cows tonight, and she was really dialled in. Right on the money.”
If not for some rotten luck, Hanson would be celebrating his Open Derby victory today. The Texan trainer had originally scored a 225, but after a judges’ review, it was decided that he and LHR Smooth Jamie May had caused a flush in the herd, and Hanson was penalized nine points and ultimately awarded a score of 216. “She’s an honest horse, and she’s got tons of eye appeal,” said Hanson of LHR Smooth Jamie May, a mare owned by South Lazy H Ranch Inc. of Weatherford, Tex. “She just loves her job.”
Meanwhile, in the Open Classic Challenge division, a pair of last-minute entries thrilled the Corral crowd with some fancy moves and fantastic scores.
Boyd Rice of Spearman, Texas, laid down a 227 aboard Third Cutting, owned by Carl and Shawnea Smith of Jacksboro, Texas. But Phil Rapp ofWeatherford, Texas, and Dont Look Twice, owned by Waco Bend Ranch of Fort Worth, played a perfect game of one-upmanship by following that up with a 228 — and the Open Classic Challenge title. Victory was worth $7,224.49 to Rapp, while Rice had to settle for a reserve champion’s cheque of $5,764.62. Rapp officially surpassed the $7-million mark in career earnings, having entered Calgary with a grand total of $6,999,710.
“We were fortunate enough to cut behind Boyd,” said Rapp. “My mare was as good as she’s been in a long time. She was low to the ground, and really stopping hard. We just put the pressure on, and let the judges decide. We got lucky, and it came out our way.”
Hanson, Rapp, and Rice also descended on Calgary with their prized mounts locked in a virtual dead heat for the NCHA’s Horse of the Year. By Hanson’s count, LHR Smooth Jamie May now leads both Dont Look Twice and Third Cutting by three points with just one event left on the calendar — the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association (PCCHA) Futurity next week in Paso Robles, Calif. “We all respect each other, and we all have a great horse,” says Rapp. “Here in Calgary, we all wanted to see each other succeed. One go-round, I said: ‘This is like the Three Musketeers — one for all, and all for one.’ ”
The focus of the Stampede’s Cutting Horse Futurity will shift on Sunday, Oct. 17 to the Non-Pro riders, who make no part of their income by training horses, and can only enter horses owned by themselves or immediate family members. The Non-Pro finals — Futurity, Derby, Classic Challenge, and 7 Up for horses aged seven or older — begin at 1 p.m. at the Corral. A $50,000 Limit Amateur Class, for those with NCHA earnings of less than $50,000 as of Jan. 1, 2010, is also offered within Non-Pro’s Derby and Classic Challenge classes.