Runoff for the Roses

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Tradition dictates that the winner of the Level 4 NRHA Open Futurity Finals runs his or her horse into the arena for recognition to the tune of "Run for the Roses", written by Dan Fogelberg. Finding the perfect prospect, training him for 3 years, and then competing at the futurity couldn't be better summed up than with the song's line "it's a chance of a lifetime, and a lifetime of chance."

Credit: Jennifer Paulson Casey Deary and Shesouttayourleague won the 2015 NRHA Level 4 Open Reining Futurity in a runoff.

Credit: Jennifer Paulson Casey Deary and Shesouttayourleague won the 2015 NRHA Level 4 Open Reining Futurity in a runoff.

At this year's 50th annual NRHA Futurity, two horse-and-rider pairs, both competing at the end of the draw, tied with identical 224-point scores, adding to the "chance" element. 

Franco Bertolani drew the 20th spot in the lineup on Inferno Sixty Six (Gunnatrashya x Snip O Gun). Bertolani had the crowd in an uproar with his stud's powerful maneuvers, and his score held for nine more runs.

When Casey Deary ran in for his first stop aboard Shesouttayourleague (Walla Walla Whiz x Wimpys Little Chic), the crowd knew the pair was there to win. It wasn't hard to be taken aback by the mare's gorgeous appearance—chiseled face, hair-commercial mane and tail, golden palomino color—but she has the power and finesse to back it up. 

When the announcer shared Deary's 224-point score, no one in the crowd knew what would happen next. Would Deary and Bertaloni share the title and be co-champions, like Shawn Flarida and Jordan Larson chose last year? Or would the trainers and horse owners opt for a run-off?

The announcer shared that the two would run off, but not before Shesouttayourleague could catch her air and Inferno Sixty Six could be prepped. 

Bertolani went first, blazing into the arena to complete the same pattern he'd just laid down so well, with the crowd cheering loudly for every maneuver. This would've been his first time to win the $150,000 event, and his reining family and fellow competitors supported him 100 percent. He and Inferno Sixty Six earned a 223.5 for their efforts.

Credit: Jennifer Paulson Franco Bertolani and Inferno Sixty Six took home reserve champion honors.

Credit: Jennifer Paulson Franco Bertolani and Inferno Sixty Six took home reserve champion honors.

When Deary and Shesouttayourleague ran into the pen, you knew they wouldn't settle for anything less than the win. Constant whoops, hollers, and whistles served as soundtrack. (You couldn't even hear the music over the PA.) After their final stop, they'd won the Level 4 Open NRHA Futurity Finals, including the $150,000 check. 

More than that, Deary's earnings put him in the elite Million Dollar Riders' Club, with his earnings Saturday night pushing him over the benchmark.

I haven't been to the NRHA Futurity in quite some time. The visibility of international trainers, non-pros, and owners is incredible. Accents and foreign languages fill the concourses during drags. Reining truly has reached its goal of becoming the first international Western discipline.

If you'd like to see more from the futurity, visit our Instagram account (horseandridermag). There you'll find photos and short video clips from Saturday night.