The Rundown: News Roundup

Check out the latest news concerning the NRCHA Derby, the list of riders qualified for the USEF Youth Reining National Championships and the death of racing world champion Tailor Fit.

By Tara Christiansen
The American Quarter Horse Journal
June 17, 2011

Smart Luck and Todd Bergen

Todd Bergen and Smart Luck won the 2010 NRCHA Derby. Primo Morales photo.

NRCHA Derby Rescheduled

The National Reined Cow Horse Association Derby will run October 26-30 at the Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Centre in Queen Creek, Arizona. The NRCHA Derby, which was originally slated for June 14-19 in Paso Robles, California, was postponed as a result of the equine herpesvirus-1 outbreak.

"The decision to postpone the Derby was difficult,” says NRCHA President Kathy Gould. “We first elected to offer full refunds to all entries that elected not to attend the event because of the outbreak. The resulting decrease in entries made it unfeasible to continue on with the show.”

Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Centre will become a familiar locale for NRCHA members, as the NRCHA Stakes will make the move to the facility in 2012.

For more information, visit www.nrcha.com or call (580) 759-4949.

Young Reining Riders

The United States Equestrian Federation has announced the list of riders who have qualified for the USEF Youth Reining National Championships to be held in conjunction with the NRHA Derby July 2 in Oklahoma City. The USEF will award youth national championship titles in three age categories: 13 and under, 14-18 and 19-21 age divisions.  The youth qualified for the USEF championships by earning points in qualifying classes throughout the country in 2010-2011. 
For more information regarding this event, including the prize list, check out www.usef.org.
The following riders qualified for the 13 and under division for the 2011 USEF Youth Reining Championships:

  • Stephen Timberlake
  • Rylee Justus
  • S. Alexandra Fuller
  • Olivia Hartman
  • Nick Taylor
  • Caroline Gute
  • Jordan Eddy

The following riders qualified for the 14-18 division for the 2011 USEF Youth Reining Championships:

  • Layla Choate
  • Laura Sumrall
  • Kayla Hillegass
  • Jonathan Timberlake
  • Samantha Hillegass
  • Meloney Morris
  • Jonathan Stepka
  • Taylor Kiel
  • Rhett Peeples
  • Hannah Agee
  • Morgan Burns
  • Samantha Belcher
  • Elizabeth Cosper
  • Kyndall Harper
  • McKenzie Lantz
  • Javier Melo
  • Devin Spencer
  • Faythe Vest
  • Emily Winegar

The following riders qualified for the 19-21 division for the 2011 USEF Youth Reining Championships:

  • Breanne Bertrand
  • Erika Newman
  • Chloe Grey
  • Michael Pope
  • Thea Arnold
  • Amanda Hotz

Racing World Champion Tailor Fit

Two-time racing world champion Tailor Fit was euthanized June 16 from complications of orthopedic issues.
The 16-year-old gelding was by Strawfly Special out of the On A High mare Silk Skirt. Bred by Jens List Jr., Janet VanBebber purchased him as a yearling on behalf of Tom Ward, spending $24,000 at the Pacific Coast QHRA Yearling and Mixed Stock Sale. Trained by Steve VanBebber, Tailor Fit raced for Ward during his 2-year-old and 3-year-old years, showing talent – including a win in the Los Alamitos Million Futurity Consolation.

As a 3-year-old, Tailor Fit developed further, making his first graded stakes score in the Sooner Trailer Texas Derby Challenge (G3), then his second in the Sam Houston Derby (G2). A narrow loss in the Dash For Cash Derby (G2) springboarded him to a daylight victory in his first of eight Grade 1s – the Sooner Trailer Derby Challenge Championship (G1).

On advice from Steve, Betty Jane Burlin purchased the gelding for $130,000 and they set forth on his aged campaign. The year was a spectacular one. First a courageous head loss to champion Kool Kue Baby in the MBNA America Oklahoma Challenge (G2), followed by a win in the MBNA America East Challenge (G2). Returning to Remington Park, he won his first of three consecutive Remington Park Championships (G1), defeating the likes of world champion SLM Big Daddy, champions Kool Kue Baby and Dashin Is Easy and major winner Deposit Cash. Next, he romped in the Sam Houston Classic (G3). He endured a bad trip in the MBNA America Challenge Championship (G1) but returned to take the Refrigerator Handicap (now G1) and then the Champion of Champions. He captured his first trio of championship honors – world champion, champion aged horse and champion aged gelding.

In 2000, Tailor Fit ran five times, never finishing worse than third, including winning his second consecutive Remington Park Championship (G1).

The following year saw him again dominate with wins in the MBNA America Oklahoma Challenge (G1), his third and final Remington Park Championship (G1), the MBNA America Challenge Championship (G1) and his second Champion of Champions (G1). He was again world champion, champion aged horse and champion aged gelding.
Trained mainly by Steve and Janet VanBebber, Tailor Fit won half of his 40 starts, finishing second in 11 races and third in one. He won 14 stakes and was placed in nine more, and earned $1,296,752, including $477,079 in Bank of America Racing Challenge races. He is the program’s all-time leading earner.

Tailor Fit was retired in 2003 and the following year began representing his breed in the Hall of Champions at the Kentucky Horse Park before retiring permanently to Kristen Johnson’s KESMARC in Versailles, Kentucky. 

 “There will never be another Tailor Fit,” Betty Jane says. “He was one of a kind. I was so blessed to own him, and he took me places I never thought I’d ever go.”