December 4, 2011
Lil Joe Cash earns $150,000 for owner Russell Giles at the 2011 National Reining Horse Association Futurity.
By Larri Jo Starkey
The first time Russell Giles saw Lil Joe Cash, she had to have him.
Russell, a Waco, Texas, car dealer, was at the Legacy Reining Breeders Sale in Aubrey, Texas, looking for a prospect.
She studied the pedigrees and decided she liked the little 2008 sorrel colt by Nu Chex To Cash and out of RS Lilly Starlight, the 2006 AQHA World Championship Show Farnam Superhorse, but her trainer at the time didn’t care for the horse bred by Kurt and Angie Harris of Whitesboro, Texas.
“I looked at him in the stall and really liked him,” Russell said. “As the sale continued on, they led him up, and I loved the horse, and I said, ‘How bad could I get hurt on the horse?’ and he said, ‘Well, the bidding started at $7,000.’ I said, ‘I can afford that,’ and I raised up my hand and I bought (the 18-month-old) for $7,700.”
That was the start of a journey that would end December 3 in a National Reining Horse Association Futurity open championship and a check for $150,000.
First up was a name change, from RS New Money to Lil Joe Cash, soon affectionately shortened to “Joe” or “Lil Joe.”
After Joe was started, she took him and another prospect to trainer Brent Loseke of Gainesville, Texas.
“I said, ‘I can take any criticism but I want you to be honest with me,’” Russell said. “He said, ‘The first one rides like a donkey,’ which I could accept that. He said, ‘The other has an extremely good talent and leave him with me for a couple of months so I can really assess him and tell you what you’ve got.’ After two weeks, he told me this is one of the best horses (he had) ever ridden.”
Brent also recommended that Joe go to rider Andrea Fappani for eight months of polish before the NRHA Futurity.
“If it had not been for Brent Loseke, then none of this would be possible,” Russell said after her win. “Brent is a man of integrity and honor, and rather than deceiving me and not letting me know what my horse was and how talented my horse was, he explained to me the gravity of the situation and the ability and potential the horse had. He also explained to me the value the horse had.”
In the first go of the futurity, Lil Joe and Andrea scored a 223, following that 223 with a matching one in the second go. In the finals, though, they were the first to go in the evening section. Russell could take no joy in watching the run, knowing her hand pulled that number in the draw party.
“I was guilt-ridden,” she exclaimed. “Usually I’m the luckiest person you could ever meet, and to draw No. 1! I guess that was lucky. In retrospect, I wouldn’t want to draw No. 1 again.”
Andrea and Joe ran in fast to a hard stop and kept going hard until the end.
“It has been kind of a weird ending,” Andrea said. “I drew up first with my best horse, and that’s never good. I was disappointed about it, and then I turned it into something to push me. I told myself I was going to go out there and lay out as correct a pattern as I knew how to do.”
Their score of 227 held up through 30 more horses and riders, including Andrea himself on Spook Off Sparks, a sorrel mare by Smart Spook and out of Setting Off Sparks by Shining Spark.
Spook Off Sparks was bred by Rosanne Sternberg of Aubrey, Texas, and is owned by Arcese Quarter Horses of Weatherford, Texas. The mare is the first mare Andrea has ridden at the NRHA Futurity since he turned professional, and he says she rides more like a stallion than a mare.
Working 17th in the draw, Andrea scored a 225.5 on Spook Off Sparks. That score also went untouched until the last go, Arno Honstetter on Show Me The Buckles, who matched it for the tie.
Arno works for Andrea, so horses from Andrea’s program finished 1-2-2. Combined with Andrea’s first-place finish in the NRHA Futurity Shootout, that makes for a pretty good week.
“I’ve been working for Andrea six years, I believe, maybe seven,” Arno said. “I’m just lucky he gives me good horses to ride and good clients.”
“Buckles” is a palomino by Wimpys Little Step and out of Sunset Whiz by Topsail Whiz. He was bred by Mike and Barbi Boyle of Princeton, Kentucky, and is owned by Rebeca Martin of Gold River, California.
“(It’s) beyond belief,” Rebeca said, wearing a futurity finalist vest. “I was on a cloud when we qualified (for the finals), and now I am just living the dream. It’s beyond belief.”
Rebeca said it was hard watching her horse go last in the draw.
“Well, I couldn’t breathe, and I was quiet, because I wanted to listen to everybody cheering for my little baby horse,” she said.
For more photos from the 2011 NRHA Futurity, see the Journal slide show below. Click on each photo to read about it. Look for more photos in the January edition of Journal Plus, free to subscribers of The American Quarter Horse Journal.
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