Todd Bergen and Smart Luck Win 2011 NRCHA Stakes Championship!

Smart Luck may have started his career as a hard-luck horse. But as he continues to add major titles to his name, he reinforces that luck really has nothing to do with his success. On Sunday, March 27, the 5-year-old cow horse, by Very Smart Remedy out of Gunna Be Lucky, earned another line on his resume – that of the 2011 National Reined Cow Horse Association Stakes Champion.

At the reins was his trainer and NRCHA Million Dollar Rider Todd Bergen. When asked about Smart Luck’s shaky start, the Eagle Point, Oregon, trainer is adamant that he never had any doubts about his mount’s ability. “I knew he was good all along. He could have been the Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion, but he fell in the cow work. He’s a really good horse and it doesn’t surprise me at all that he’s coming on and winning,” he said, referring to the stallion’s wins at the NRCHA Derby and in the Open Hackamore at the Snaffle Bit Futurity. “He’s the kind of horse you want, and I’m lucky to have him.”

Bergen knew his horse was strong in the herd work, and as the first leg of Finals day competition, he knew he had to capitalize on that ability. “My herd help – Corey Cushing, Phillip Ralls, Ted Robinson, and Todd Crawford – helped to find some decent cows, and we were able to get him exposed. I just tried to get a good start,” he said of his 220.5 herd work.

Then it was time for what is arguably Bergen’s, who’s also a National Reining Horse Association Million Dollar Rider, forte – the rein work. “I knew there had already been some decent runs posted, and this horse is solid in the rein work, so I just hung it all out there. He stopped big and circled well, and we got a good score,” he said.

That score – a 226.5 – was needed to compensate for a less than ideal cow in the fence work, where they ended with a 217. “I know that the guys here in Idaho can put together some tough runs. I just tried to get as many points as I could early on. That cow just got a little numb at the end and got pushy. Luckily we had enough of a cushion that we could lose a few points,” he said.

The composite score of 664 was enough to win the title, along with a check for $27,683 for owner Cindy Warn of Cable Creek Ranch. “Cindy can never watch us compete – she was sitting in the parking lot the whole time,” laughed Bergen. “She’s a great customer and she really supports me. I can’t thank her enough for the good horses she lets me ride.”

Another NRCHA Million Dollar Rider, Todd Crawford, won the Reserve Championship aboard Moms Silverado Cat with a 659.5 (220.5/219.5/219.5). Crawford and Moms Silverado Cat, owned by Rhodes River Ranch, won $20,398. Moms Silverado Cat is by High Brow Cat out of Moms Stylish Pepto.

The National Reined Cow Horse Association, now in its 62nd year, is the governing body of cow horse competition, is responsible for promoting the sport, insuring high standards of competition and educating members and the public about the history and tradition of the cow horse. Through the support of a Corporate Partner family that includes Adequan, Bob’s Custom Saddles, Cinch, Classic Equine, Gist Silversmiths, John Deere, Markel Insurance Company, Nutrena, Pfizer Animal Health, Platinum Performance, Quarter Horse News, Rios of Mercedes, Running W Designs, the Silver Legacy Hotel and Casino, and Merial products UlcerGard and EQUIOXX, the association works to keep the vaquero tradition alive in today’s equine industry. For information on the National Reined Cow Horse Association, call 580-759-4949 or visit the NRCHA Official Web Site at www.nrcha.com.