Brad Pedersen was frank on Saturday night in assessing the age-old, equine-bovine rivalry out on the Corral on Stampede Park infield.
“I’d say the cows pretty much won tonight,” offered the cutting-horse trainer from Lacombe, Alta.
Ah, but Brad, the cows didn’t get to take home a red ribbon and stacks of cash for their efforts, did they?
Pedersen and Annies Goodie Bag were third in the order Saturday night during the 18-team final of the Open Futurity class, the marquee event at the 31st annual Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity, presented by Wrangler — and Pedersen admits he didn’t hold out much hope after posting a rather pedestrian score of 213.
But one by one, his rivals were unable to answer that challenge. And at the end of the night, Pedersen had bagged the first Stampede Open Futurity crown of his illustrious career — and jammed $17,621.21 in his Wranglers, to boot.
“I would never have thought it would hold up through the rest of the class, but the cows weren’t very co-operative tonight,” said Pedersen, who won the Calgary Stampede’s 2010 Elite Western Rider Award, presented by O’Connor Associates Environmental Inc., and was the youngest rider ever inducted into the Canadian Supreme’s Hall of Fame, back in 2006. “But I got lucky and cut three good cows.”
The Stampede Futurity is the premier cutting event in Canada, with a prize purse of more than $300,000. Saturday night, the spotlight was trained on the professional riders and trainers competing in the Open categories, with finals in three equine age classes — Futurity, for three-year-olds; Derby, for four-year-olds; and Classic Challenge, for five- and six-year-olds.
Pedersen has been training Annies Goodie Bag, owned by Doreen Ruggles of Ardmore, Alta., for the past year-and-a-half, and the quarter-horse mare has been hitting her stride this fall, winning the Silver Slate in Nanton and the Canadian Supreme’s Open Cutting Futurity in Red Deer earlier this month. “She’s been a real solid, steady horse all through the fall,” said Pedersen. “She just goes out and does her job.”
Denton Moffat of Armstrong, B.C., aboard Cow E Ichi, owned by Doug Wiens of Chilliwack, B.C., and Brian Anderson of Idaho Falls, Ida., riding Didges Smart Kitty, owned by Jim and Dianne Schaeffer of Paul, Ida., finished in a dead heat for the Open Futurity reserve championship, or runner-up spot, and each took home $11,191.95.
Meanwhile, Dustin Gonnet has himself a real stopper . . . maybe even a show stopper. Gonnet, of Cayley, Alta., kept up his string of recent Stampede Futurity success by teaming up with Pepto Boonlena 007, owned by Connie Down-Cicoria of Calgary, to win the Open Derby class.
The pair scored a 218 to top the 17-team field in Saturday night’s final, as Gonnet collected a winner’s cheque of $10,424.20.
Pepto Boonlena 007 carried former trainer Scott Hanson of Mountain View, Alta., to victory in the Open Futurity class at last year’s Canadian Supreme. Gonnet rode the quarter-horse stallion into the 4-Year-Old winner’s circle at the Canadian Super Stakes this spring, and a berth in the final at this year’s Canadian Supreme.
“He’s a real big stopper. He’s really starting to get strong now. He can really hit his stops. He’s real smart about a cow,” said Gonnet. “He’s got a big move on him, and he’s getting to really handle all different types of situations. I’m really pleased with him, here, the last couple of months. He’s really come on good . . . and he’s starting to be a show horse.”
Mike Santangelo of Nanton, Alta., and his own DMAC Velvet Spoon bobbed and weaved their way to Open Derby’s reserve championship, with a score of 216, for a pay day of $7,818.15.
Gonnet’s win — as well as his Open Classic Challenge reserve championship Saturday on Peptos Smoker, owned by Scott Wardley of Okotoks, Alta., a performance worth $6,893.01 — bolsters his recent reputation as a heavy hitter at the Stampede Futurity. He’s now bagged seven grand champion or reserve champion finishes at the Corral since 2008.
Greg Smith of Star, Idaho, and Catmas, owned by Roberta Thompson of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, won Open Classic Challenge with a 223, earning a champion’s cheque of $8,731.15.
The focus of the Stampede’s Cutting Horse Futurity will shift this morning 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 approximately 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, 2011, is also offered within Non-Pro’s Derby and Classic Challenge classes.
The Stampede’s 2011 Cutting Horse Futurity is being webcast, and the link — as well as round-by-round results — can be accessed off the Agriculture Department’s website at www.calgarystampede.com/ag