Smooth as Mercedes Claims Third 2020 Win in El Rancho 4-Year-Old Open Derby at the 2020 El Rancho Futurity

Smooth As Mercedes and Matt Gaines scored 224 points to win the 4-Year-Old Derby finals of the 2020 El Rancho Futurity on Monday, September 8, in Rancho Murieta, Calif. It was the third 2020 championship win for the duo. TF Reysin Chex and Morgan Cromer claimed the reserve championship and won the Gelding division with 222.5, while WR This Playgunsmart and Monty Buntin placed third with 220.5 points.

Owned by Jim Vangilder, Weatherford, Tex., Smooth As Mercedes LTE $72,022, by Dual Rey, was bred by Reata Cutting Horses, Los Olivos, Calif., and is the first money earner out of Mercedes Smoothe LTE $148,900. In addition to the El Rancho Derby, Smooth As Mercedes and Gaines also won this year’s Idaho Futurity 4-Year-Old Derby and Cascades 4-Year-Old Derby.
Matt Gaines is the NCHA Hall of Fame earner of $8,708,067. His wins include the 2016 NCHA Futurity on Second Spot; the 2001 and 2005 NCHA Super Stakes on Sunettes Dually and One Time Pepto, respectively; and the NCHA Derby on Nu I Wood.
Owned by Ken Schultz, Sacramento, Calif., and bred by Travelers Farm, Robesonia, Pa., TF Reysin Chex LTE $26,917 is a Dual Rey gelding out of the High Brow CD  daughter TF High Chex CD LTE $137,312, who won the 2016 Pacific Coast Open 5/6 Classic and the 2015 Pacific Coast Open 4-Year-Old Winter Roundup under Morgan Cromer.
Cromer, the NCHA Hall of Fame earner of $3,307,160, has earned major wins in, among others, the 2016 NCHA Super Stakes Classic with Mias Of Metal, and four PCCHA 3-Year-Old Futurities (2017 on Moon Cat CD; 2014 on Chickaroos Foxfire; 2011 on Faye Reys Sis; and 2008 on Bearly Nuf Taz).
WR This Playgunsmart LTE $35,130, owned by Julie Sandford, Orange, Calif., and bred by J.T. Bell, Millarvile, AB., is a 4-year-old daughter of WR This Cats Smart and the second money earner out of RL Gunpowders Dually, by PG Gunpowder. Last month, Julie Sandford won the Idaho Futurity Amateur Unlimited riding WR This Playgunsmart.
In addition to his win in the 2020 El Rancho 5/6 Classic with Steel Betty on Monday, Monty Buntin, the NCHA Hall of Fame earner of $1,294,801, has also collected 2020 wins in the Idaho 3-Year-Old Futurity riding Starlights Lil Fox and the Cascade 3-Year-Old Futurity on Kit Kat Kangaroo. He also won last year’s El Rancho 4-Year-Old Futurity riding Dual Cat Pepto, who he showed to place fourth in this year’s El Rancho Classic.
The 2020 El Rancho Futurity continues through Sept. 13.
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By NCHA Press Release