At this weekend’s National Cutting Horse Association Summer Spectacular, the defending champion has earned the right to defend his title.
The defending champion is Kenneth Platt, a Colorado cowboy who won the 4-year-old open division title in the 2016 Summer Spectacular Derby aboard Moms Stylish Player.
In order to have a shot at winning the Summer Spectacular, a rider first has to advance out of three qualifying rounds — the first, second and semifinal rounds. When a final-round berth was at stake during the semifinal round Saturday night at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, Platt and a mare named Smooth Autumn Blue turned in an attention-grabbing score of 219.
A field of 21 horses that turned in a semifinal score of at least 217 advanced to the final in Fort Worth.
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“I’m glad to be there,” Platt said. “It’s nice to have a dog in the fight.”
The Summer Spectacular will conclude its three-week run Sunday with two final round performances — the non-pro division beginning at 1 p.m., and then the open division. The open finals will the third jewel of the sport’s 2016-17 Triple Crown Series.
After earning an open division finals berth, Platt praised Smooth Autumn Bluefor her athleticism.
“The faster a cow, the better she seems to get and the more look she has,” Platt said. “She can figure out a way to hold a bad cow or one that’s pretty tough or sorry.”
Saturday’s semifinal featured a field of 50 horses. The performance got off to a strong start when veteran Austin Shepard and Sir Long Legs, which were the first duo to compete, turned in a remarkable 220.
“Being first like that, you want to have a good clean run and not mess up,” Shepard said. “You need to take a little bit of a risk and step up there and get all that you can get.”
Shepard, an Alabama cowboy, praised Sir Long Legs, a stallion, for his natural ability to work a cow.
“He’s really cowy and he moves really low,” Shepard said. “He stops hard, tries hard and he has a really pretty look on a cow.”
Late in the performance, Shepard earned a finals berth on a mare named Tap This as the result of turning in a 217.5.
Pro rodeo update
The ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colo., has been known for inducting legendary Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association competitors.
This year, for the first time, barrel racers from the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association were among the inductees Saturday. The honorees were former world champions Wanda Harper Bush and Charmayne James and a joint equine inductee — Star Plaudit “Red.”
Also inducted: Randy Corley, a 12-time PRCA Announcer of the Year; former world champions Buck Rutherford, Enoch Walker, Tommy Puryear, Mike Beers and Cody Custer; Bob Ragsdale, a 22-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier in three events; four-time Bareback Horse of the Year, Christensen Bros.’ Smith & Velvet; and the committee for the Ogden (Utah) Pioneer Days.