Rider Jason Clark had an uneasy feeling as he prepared to show his horse, Spoonful Of Stella, in the NCHA World Championship Futurity semifinals on Friday at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
“She had gotten a little bit sore on me,” said Clark, a Weatherford resident. “It happens a lot of the times when you get near the semifinals. We give them a little time off and they’re so used to getting worked daily. I haven’t been able to work her the last few days, so honestly I went in a little uncertain.”
Clark had little reason to worry. Stella, owned by Wrigley Ranches, turned in a score of 218 to sail through to Saturday’s Open finals at 6 p.m.
It’s been a family affair for Clark, who watched his 14-year-old daughter, Sheridan, win the National Cutting Horse Association Limited Non-Pro finals two days ago, becoming the youngest rider to win a futurity event.
Saturday’s Open final will be the seventh of Clark’s Hall of Fame career.
“My dad always told me growing up, ‘If you want to be the best at something you have to hang around the best guys,’ ” said Clark, who took his father’s advice, moving from California to Texas 16 years ago with little more than a few connections and a dream.
“I grew up around a bunch of cowboys [in Coalinga, Calif.] and my dad was a county trapper,” Clark said. “He had a 3,500-mile circle he patrolled and within that 3,500 miles he would drop me off and leave me there all day with different people, and that’s how I started learning, I was probably 5 or 6 years old.”
In a business that is all about results, Clark has come very close to reaching the pinnacle of his sport, earning more than $1.8 million over a career that has spanned a decade and a half.
In 2004, Clark was introduced to Darren Blanton, founder of Dallas-based Colt Ventures.
“We bought our first horse [in 2004] and we ended up making the Futurity finals on it, and we’ve been partners ever since,” Blanton said.
The pair made their most significant transaction in January, negotiating a deal to purchase High Brow Cat, the leading sire of cutting horses, from the industry’s leading breeder, Jack Waggoner.
“Jason’s a really, really good guy, just an honest no-nonsense kind of guy.” Blanton said. “He has been a fantastic partner and he understands horses and sees things that others simply don’t see.”
The one thing missing in Clark’s career is an NCHA Futurity Championship, something that he admits would be icing on the cake for a career that has been more than he ever dreamed.
“I never thought coming from California where I came from I’d own part of High Brow Cat, or be in the Hall of Fame; I just made the Futurity finals tonight for a seventh time,” Clark said. “All the history that has been made in this building, it’s just really humbling.”
Sam Good of Mansfield earned $54,067 after tying for second place at the NCHA Futurity non-pro division finals Thursday night. Good turned in a score of 219 aboard Reys Smart Lookin.
Craig Crumpler of Wichita Falls, who rode a 3-year-old horse named Junie Wood, clinched the title with a 220.5. He earned $56,825.
Cody Ohl of Hico saw his chances of winning a sixth world tie-down roping title fall by turning in a sluggish time of 29.5 seconds in Round 9 at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo on Friday in Las Vegas.
Ohl still leads the world title race over No. 2 Shane Hanchey $180,429 to $159,895. However, Hanchey, who is from Baton Rouge, La., is ranked No. 1 in the average and could overtake Ohl during tonight’s Round 10 final performance when aggregate prize money is paid.
Decatur’s Trevor Brazile, second in the average and fourth in the world title race with $149,154, also is a serious title contender.
Correspondent Brett Hoffman contributed to this report.