Thoroughbred horse racing fans were elated to witness the running of the Belmont Stakes last month despite challenges from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Belmont Stakes is the third jewel of the sport’s Triple Crown Series. The cutting horse industry also features a Triple Crown Series and its third jewel is the Metallic Cat National Cutting Horse Association Summer Spectacular 4-year-old open division finals in Fort Worth.

Cutting horse fans also were thrilled to watch the Summer Spectacular’s 4-year-old open division finals on July 19 at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum during this challenging time when COVID-19 concerns abound. A first-year competing stallion named Sanctus and rider Rodrigo Taboga clinched the title with a score of 226. The victory earned the horse’s owner, Scott Durham of Fort Worth, the $25,633 prize.

Taboga said Sanctus arrived at the Summer Spectacular with lots of momentum after faring well at recent aged event shows on the NCHA circuit.

“My horse came to this show with a lot of courage and confidence,” he said.

Taboga, 30, is a native of Brazil who lives in Fort Worth. He’s a professional trainer/rider with success in Brazil and he also works for high-profile NCHA competitor Beau Galyean of Fort Worth.

Adan Banuelos of Granbury and Twice In Santiago finished as the reserve champion with a 223. The horse’s owner, the Double Dove Ranch of Fort Worth, earned $22,484.

Tag Rice, a former NCHA Triple Crown winning rider from Godley, finished third with a 222 aboard Champayne Dreams and owner Scotty Rice of Weatherford earned $19,336. But Scotty Rice also pocketed a $100,000 bonus because Champayne Dreams was the top eligible finisher in the open finals who was sired by former NCHA Futurity champion Metallic Cat, a high-profile breeding stallion that’s owned by Fort Worth businessman Bobby Patton.

When Metallic Cat won the 2009 NCHA Futurity with Galyean in the saddle, the horse was owned by Alvin and Becky Fults who are from the Amarillo area. Patton, a Los Angeles Dodgers part owner, purchased Metallic Cat in 2017.

All three jewels of the NCHA’s Triple Crown Series traditionally are in Fort Worth. Numerous cutting horse competitors participated in the sport’s first jewel, the December Futurity, which was not affected by COVID-19. But they were denied competing in the second jewel, the Super Stakes in April, which was canceled because of coronavirus concerns.

Only three horses and riders have won the NCHA Triple Crown. They are Smart Little Lena and rider Bill Freeman (1982-83), Docs Okie Ouixote and Joe Heim (1983-84) and Chiquita Pistol and Tag Rice (2002-2003).


Steer roping update

World class steer ropers were in Torrington, Wyoming, on July 19-20 to compete in the PRCA’s National Circuit Finals Steer Roping. Two-time National Finals Steer Roping qualifier Ora Taton of Rapid City, South Dakota, clinched the 2020 NCFSR title. Sixteen-time National Finals Steer Roping qualifier Vin Fisher of Andrews finished second in the title race.

Trevor Brazile, a Decatur cowboy who has a record 25 PRCA world titles (in multiple categories), came in third. According to , Brazile is ranked No. 1 in the PRCA’s 2020 steer roping world title race.

Tuf Cooper, who has homes Weatherford and Decatur, won four of the six preliminary rounds. He’s ranked eighth in the PRCA’s steer roping world standings. He’s also ranked No. 1 in the PRCA’s world all-around title race.


PBR update

The Professional Bull Riders tour is scheduled to come to Fort Worth’s Dickies Arena on Aug. 29-30. The PBR WinStar World Casino and Resort Invitational is part of the Unleash The Beast, the PBR’s top tier tour. The Fort Worth tour stop will help competitors qualify for the PBR World Finals, which is scheduled for Nov. 4-8 at T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.


Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has reported on rodeos and horse shows for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than 35 years. Email him at

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