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Gainesville rider wins top prize at NCHA Futurity

Ed Dufurrena riding Stevie Rey Von scores a 225 to lead after the first set of the National Cutting Horse Association's World Championship Futurity Open Division Finals at the Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum in Fort Worth Saturday December 12, 2015.
Ed Dufurrena riding Stevie Rey Von scores a 225 to lead after the first set of the National Cutting Horse Association's World Championship Futurity Open Division Finals at the Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum in Fort Worth Saturday December 12, 2015. Special to the Star-Telegram

The Dufurrena family wasn’t entirely sure if Stevie Rey Von was a championship-caliber cutting horse or a ne’er-do-well content sitting around the ranch getting his red roan mane and coat attended to by the finest groomers.

Well, he certainly showed them over the past few days and appeared more than inspired Saturday night in achieving National Cutting Horse Association greatness.

Stevie Rey Von, the son of past Futurity champion Metallic Cat, was the best athlete at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, demonstrating the fleetest hooves, the best instincts, and the drive in teaming with Hall of Fame rider and owner Ed Dufurrena in claiming the NCHA World Championship Futurity open division title with a score of 225.

The victory was Stevie’s second in three days. The stallion earned the limited non-pro crown Thursday with Dufurrena’s daughter, Rieta, aboard.

“He’s extremely laid-back,” Ed Dufurrena said. “You wonder if he’s got enough spark or not. But you separate a cow, and he’s a different individual. He knows when it’s time to perform and give his all.

“He’s quick, he’s electric and he’s dynamic. Back here, you’d think he’s a puppy dog.”

Cutting legend Lindy Burch, aboard Bet Shes Smooth, turned in the next best run at 221 in the opening ride of the evening. Jesse Lennox and Kody Porterfield, riding Rockin Sallycat and This Isa Third, were next at 217.5.

They all made a bunch of money in collecting pieces of the estimated $1.8 million purse. The winning run earned the Dufurenna cutting operation in Gainesville the top prize of $200,000.

That total was considerably more than what was dispersed to Jimmy Blackwell aboard Snooks at the first NCHA event in Dublin in 1946.

On that September day, the purse amounted to half the gate receipts plus entry fees of $10 — and $200 added by the NCHA.

In studying the herd, Dufurrena and his front men — Phil Rapp and son Brandon Dufurrena — identified four they liked, and the run “came together perfectly.”

“Once I was able to get them cut clean, I just turned it over to that horse,” Ed Dufurrena said of Stevie, who basked in triumph during the event’s closing ceremony. “The rest was all him. He took over and not only excelled as an athlete, he controlled those cows and showed a level of skill that I wished he had but didn’t know until he proved it.”

If it sounds as if Stevie doesn’t know he’s a working horse, it might be because he doesn’t.

Dufurrena said of the ranch in Gainesville: “These horses, they’re not horses to us. They’re part of the family. They are our friends, they are our life.”

That type of respect, not to mention the bond shared by the Dufurrena family, paid big Saturday.

The victory marked a crowning achievement for Dufurrena, who with his family is on the road almost every weekend of the year. The native of Nevada has now collected about $1.3 million in career prize earnings.

Dufurrena came to the sport slightly older — 30 — than most. He was previously a saddle bronc rodeo rider.

“To win this venue is a dream every person in this building aspires to,” Dufurrena said. “I was just blessed tonight the way the run fell. We had a good horse, he was prepared, he was sound, he was healthy, and I had the right draw.”

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