For an irrepressible mix of excitement and anxiety, nothing compares to the first day of the NCHA Futurity, with hopes and dreams riding on a clean slate of unproven 3-year-olds. And the 2020 NCHA North Texas Chevy Dealers World Championship Futurity, presented by Great American Insurance, with nearly $3 million in total prize money and 25 days of competition, in addition to the 2020 World Finals, and six days of Western Bloodstock NCHA Futurity Sales, promises to deliver all of the anticipated thrills for participants and spectators.
Thursday, November 19 marks the first day of the Futurity and the first of five days of Open first go-round competition. A scan of Thursday’s working order, posted on the NCHA website, shows 2019 NCHA Futurity Open champion Gary Bellenfant scheduled to ride Bocephus Cat, a Kit Kat Sugar gelding, in the fourth of the day’s eight sets. Bellenfant also appears on schedule in Friday’s fifth set with Boon Rey Mink, a half-brother, by The Boon, to Metallic Rey Mink LTE $182,624, Bellenfant’s 2019 champion mount.
Metallic Rey Mink, a Metallic Cat son owned and bred by Los Jaboncillos Ranch, Premont, Tex., gave Bellenfant his second Futurity win. His first win came in 1995, aboard Peptoboonsmal LTE $165,308. Bred and owned by Larry and Elaine Hall, Weatherford, Tex., Peptoboonsmal would go on to become a leading sire of earners of more than $23 million.
Altogether, since 1978, 70-year-old Gary Bellenfant, the oldest rider to ever win an Open NCHA Triple Crown event and the NCHA Hall of Fame earner of $3,165,640, has been an NCHA Open Futurity finalist 13 times, a non-advancing semi-finalist six times, and has earned $794,799 in NCHA Open Futurity competition. In addition to his championships wins, Bellenfant also claimed the 1993 NCHA Futurity reserve championship showing the Doc’s Hickory gelding Docs Hickory Zan LTE $144,276, bred and owned by Drs. Robert and Jane McGehee, Fort Worth, Tex.
Ronnie Rice, who on Sunday shows the Kit Kat Sugar gelding Tuff Kat, bred and owned by James and Ellen Russell, Fort Worth, Tex., holds the record for most NCHA Futurity Open finalists with 26. Rice, 68, has won the Futurity three times: in 1998 on Dainty Playgirl LTE $269,122, owned by Gary and Mickey Goodfried; in 2001 on San Tule Freckles LTE $203,119, owned by S.E. Montgomery; and in 2012 on CR Tuff Hearted Cat LTE $276,864, owned by Center Ranch.
To read more from Sally Harrison, visit her blog at sallyharrison.com.