Tremblay and Vanlandingham Tie for NRBC Open Championship

Dany Tremblay and Jason Vanlandingham Dany Tremblay and Jason Vanlandingham Cover Photos by Carolyn Simancik

An intense week of competition at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, Texas, culminated Saturday, April 25. That’s when the top horses and riders from across the country competed in the Open Finals of the 2021 National Reining Breeders Classic, which kicked off April 18.

Dany Tremblay and Jason Vanlandingham both piloted their horses to scores of 228.5, tying for the win of the Open Level 4. With several more major events on the books for 2021, the two professionals elected to stay as Co-Champions.

Level 4 Open Classic Co-Champion – Dany Tremblay & Tinker With Dreams
As the first horse out in the final set of Saturday night’s adrenaline-charged NRBC Open Classic Finals, Tinker With Dreams and Dany Tremblay held the approval of the crowd from start to finish to secure a dream win. The 7-year-old stallion sired by Tinker With Guns and out of This Chicsdundreamin is owned by Shane and Kalicia Walters of Diamond Dub Quarter Horses and was bred by Rhodes River Ranch.
Tremblay and Tinker With Guns, aka “Cilantro,” were awarded $62,500 to add to the stallion’s NRHA lifetime earnings coming into the NRBC of $194,000. Tremblay says the elite equine athlete absolutely rose to this prestigious occasion. “The last couple of days we really tuned up and he knew what we were here to do. He went into that pen and it was like he knew exactly what we were doing. He knows the sound of the crowd and he’s just a show horse,” said Tremblay.
Tremblay, a two-time NRBC Open Level 3 Champion, who has also won a Level 4 Reserve Championship, says it’s a great feeling to earn the ultimate crown. “I’m glad that I did it with Shane and Kalicia,” he said. “They are great customers. They are awesome.”
Kalicia was on hand to express her mutual appreciation. “We are such big fans of Cilantro and Dany and the team together, so we knew this win was coming. We just didn’t know when, but I’m so glad it’s right now. The crowd was with us, we had our friends, and it was so exciting.”
“He loves the crowd,” said Tremblay. “It’s super fun to show that kind of a horse and I don’t think there are many of those types. They are happy to do it and work harder for you.”
Beyond high praise for Cilantro, Tremblay said, “Thank you to my team here. Thank you to Shane and Kalicia. They trust us with the horses, and they make it easy and fun.”
“Shane and I would like to thank Fred and Dany Tremblay for doing an amazing job,” added Kalicia. “Their program and the whole team is amazing. There is so much support; it’s the best I’ve ever seen, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.”
When the announcement of a 228.5 score was made, Tremblay says that he, like Vanlandingham, was comfortable with opting to accept the co-championship rather than running it off in anticipation of more high-stakes runs in the near future.

Level 4 Open Co-Champion – Jason Vanlandingham & A Vintage Smoke
NRHA Triple Crown winner A Vintage Smoke (A Sparkling Vintage x Lady Smoke Peppy x Mr Dual Pep) entered this evening’s Finals with the chance at becoming a two-time NRBC Open Classic Champion—and pulled it off. Ridden by NRHA $2 Million Dollar Rider Jason Vanlandingham, A Vintage Smoke set the pace at draw No. 26 with a masterful 228.5 performance that held through the 34-horse field.
Making a statement with their run-in entrance and endless sliding stop, A Vintage Smoke and Vanlandingham had the audience on the edge of their seats until the end. “Any time I go through the gate on that horse, the crowd is great,” said Vanlandingham. “And it was no exception tonight. They were behind us the whole way. When you have a special horse—and I heard them with Dany tonight, too—the crowd can really step up and I think the horses feed off of that energy. Definitely the great horses, they step their game another level when the crowd is that involved.”
A Vintage Smoke is owned by Diane Mesmer of Colorado and was bred by Karl and Debbie Hapcic. The six-year-old black stallion added $62,500 tonight to his NRHA lifetime earnings coming into NRBC of $393,761.
Of how this win compares with he and A Vintage Smoke’s first NRBC Level 4 Open title, Vanlandingham says there’s a stark contrast. “The first time, he was a four-year-old coming straight off a win at the Futurity and it was the young horse going against the older horses,” he said. “Now it’s the opposite. He’s the older, more mature horse but now I have to keep everything together.”
Vanlandingham takes nothing for granted with respect to the caliber of horsepower underneath him, which in part played into this decision to share the championship with Tremblay rather than to run it off. “He’s all heart and guts and I know what I have,” he said. “We’re both planning on showing these horses more this year, so why waste it? They are both champions right now and we will save that run for the next one.”
Vanlandingham summed up the night with gratitude for the horseflesh and the opportunities that he has to make his livelihood as an elite reiner. “Thank the good Lord and Diane,” he said. “We are blessed to do what we do. For me to be able to it with my family and with my wife by my side, I’m just blessed.”

Level 3 Open Classic Champion – Gunny Mathison & Shes Reddy On Line
Level 3 Open Classic Champions Gunny Mathison and Shes Reddy On Line stepped up in response to the electric atmosphere at this evening’s NRBC Open Classic Finals. Mathison and the 2016 mare, sired by Shine On Line and out of Guns R Reddy, owned and bred by Mary Jansma, were awarded $21,875 and a plethora of first-class awards thanks to their 225 score.
“I saw all the people in the crowd, and it just changes your perspective,” Mathison said of the increased confidence he felt after hitting his first stop on the run-in Finals pattern. “I ran in and stopped, and it felt good because she’s a great stopper. It felt amazing.”
The charismatic horseman, a Houston-area native, stepped up in response to performing in front of a hometown crowd, but says he knew he had to achieve a flawless performance in order to win the ultra-competitive Level 3 Open. He was pleasantly surprised to finish fifth in the Level 4 for $22,500. “I knew I could, but it feels good to pull it off once in a while,” he said. “The hardest part is staying focused enough just to get it done.”
Mathison Reining Horses makes its home in Tioga, Texas, where Mathison says he’s grateful for the support team behind his winning program. “Mary Jansma for breeding this horse, my owners Tom and Cindy at Bozidar Ranch who have been with me literally through thick and thin. I know they always have my back,” he said adding an emotional tip of the hat to his other half. “I’d like to thank my wife, Monica, for all she does for me. All of my employees—Hava Vital and Dakota Guthridge. There are so many people to thank. I don’t think I really deserve the credit for this. It’s all the people that helped me get here and the horse, she deserves it, she didn’t quit.” 

Level 2 Open Classic – Eduardo Salgado & Isnt She Dreamy
Eduardo Salgado and Isnt She Dreamy achieved a score of 219.5 to tie for the Level 2 Limited Open Classic championship. Owned by Renata Lemann, the five-year-old mare is by NRHA $6 Million Sire Magnum Chic Dream and out of Miss Silver Gun.
“I’m very proud of Eduardo and mare,” said Renata Lemann. “The mare has a very strong heart and gives everything. She is very special. I have known Eduardo since I was in Brazil, and I think he has a gift of knowing the horses and knowing which horse will fit the client best, he knows how to take the best from each horse and make it better.”
“The run, I thought it was perfect,” said Salgado. “She is stopping so good. She gave it all to me tonight. “I have ridden her for two years. The mare wasn’t shown much before this. This is the first show to show hard, and I love her. She was amazing.”
Salgado, who said this is his first major win at NRBC, said, “For me this is the best show in the reining world, the best horses and best trainers.”
Salgado began training reiners in Brazil in 1999 before moving to the United States in 2013. He now trains out of Gainesville, Texas, and said he appreciates the support of his clients, Diane Boeckman and Renata Lemann. “I have some good horses for this year. Thank you for everything to my team and my wife, my kids, my customers Renata and Diane.”

Level 2 Open Classic – Leo Kellerman & Blazed By Magnum
With a solid 219.5 performance in Saturday’s NRBC Open Classic Finals, it was Leo Kellerman and Blazed By Magnum claiming the Level 2 Limited Open win, which paid 6,866.
The NRBC is Kellerman’s second show with the 2016 stallion owned by Diane Yoder and bred by Holy Cow Performance Horses, Texas, LLC. After marking a 214.5 in the prelims, Kellerman called harder on the son of NRHA $6 Million Sire Magnum Chic Dream out of Blazed By Commander, and Blazed By Magnum answered the call. “We didn’t run as fast as in the first go as we did in the second go,” Kellerman said. “He was good both times, we just ran a little faster this time.”
The first-time NRBC Open finalist is enjoying the ride. “I really love it, it’s really fun. He’s a really special horse. He’s a big stopper and really good minded,” Kellerman said.
Kellerman has been a member of the elite Fappani Performance Horses team for the past two-and-a-half years and began showing in 2020. The native of Brazil says he started riding reining horses at the age of 11 and moved to the United States at age 19. “I really love working at Andrea’s,” he said. “We always have him by our side to teach us and help us through everything. He gives us advice all the time with everything.”
Kellerman thanks God first and foremost, as well as his family and the entire team at Fappani Performance Horses in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is particularly thankful to Andrea for mentoring him. “I thank Diane Yoder, the owner of the horse. We are really happy to have this horse with us.” 

Level 1 Classic Open - Lucio Pontes Casalecchi & Ruffed Up Spooks
Capturing the NRBC Level 1 Open Classic win was Lucio Pontes Casalecchi riding Ruffed Up Spooks for owner Ixtul Quarter Horses, LLC. Ruffed Up Spooks and Casalecchi marked a 217.5 to win the division. Ruffed Up Spooks, sired by NRHA $2 Million Sire Spooks Gotta Gun and out of All Ruffed Up, is a 2016 stallion that was bred by Silver Spurs Equine.
Casalecchi and Ruffed Up Spooks also made the Level 2 Finals. “[This is] my second time to show here at the NRBC.,” Casalecchi said. “I made the L1 Finals the first time, but this year I made Level 1 and 2.”
“I think he gave me everything he had,” Casalecchi said of the horse’s effort in the Finals. “He stopped really big, and it was all good. Ruffed Up Spooks is a five-year-old now and is a real consistent horse. I love him. I have been riding him for one year.”
Casalecchi, who is 24 and hails from Brazil, has ridden reiners since the age of 12. “My uncle is a horse trainer, so I started to ride with him. I came to the United States two years ago where I work for Thiago Boechat. I thank my boss, Thiago Boechat [in Purcell, Oklahoma], and the owner of the horse, Lorenzo Vargas.”
When asked how he felt about competing at NRBC, Casalecchi replied, “It’s awesome. I love this place!”
Casalecchi is looking forward to the upcoming NRHA Derby and said he plans to stick the same winning strategy he employed here at NRBC. He qualified two horses to the Open Classic Finals; the other is Xtra Voodoolicious owned by Boechat, which he guided to a top 10 finish in the Level 1.

Development Division – Shawn Flarida and Americas Got Talent
Prime Time Open Classic – Shawn Flarida and Shine Colt Shine
Emerging as the winner of the Open Classic Development Division with a score of 221 to earn $9,606 was NRHA $6 Million Rider Shawn Flarida and Americas Got Talent. Americas Got Talent, by NRHA $12 Million Sire Wimpys Little Step and out of Americasnextgunmodel, is a 2017 stallion owned by Marie H Whitmarsh and bred by Arcese Quarter Horses USA.
Americas Got Talent came to Flarida’s program in January. “He has an enormous amount of talent. This is the first time I’ve ever shown him. He circles amazing. What a fun horse,” said Flarida, adding that he looks forward to gaining more show experience with the feely equine athlete. “I pretty much just treated him like a three-old-old that I’ve never shown before and made sure that he was pretty comfortable.”
Flarida kept his win streak running hot when he topped the Prime Time Open Classic aboard Shine Colt Shine with a 222. The five-year-old stallion is sired by Shine Chic Shine out of Gunners Miss Oak and is owned by Gaynia Revenberg and bred by Amabile & Strusiner. “This is a great horse and I’m just happy to be in this position,” Flarida said. “I was second in the reining futurity on him, this has been an awesome horse for me.”
Coming back with three Level 4 finalists was right in line with the leading rider’s passion for competition. “I love to compete,” he said. “This is obviously my life. This is the toughest event there is and it’s an honor to get three back.”
Flarida said the huge-stopping colt did not disappoint on Finals’ night. “He’s a tremendous athlete, obviously his stop is his best deal and he’s big and gorgeous. He’s out of a Chic mare on the bottom with a Gunner so that just helps him with his maneuvers. He’ll go from here to the NRHA Derby.”
“There are so many people I need to thank,” added Flarida. “All my sponsors. The owner of Americas Got Talent, Marie Whitmarsh, she’s been awesome and so supportive. The owners of Shine Colt Shine, Gus and Gaynia Revenberg, have been tremendous supporters for my entire career. My wife, my two sons and daughter; my family is the backbone of my business, and all of my help. It wouldn’t be possible without all of them.”

Photos Courtesy NRBC Media

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