Clay Smith’s Superstar Mare Apache Promise Cashes In at ARHFA RedBud
Apache Promise's career earnings top $42,925 after winning the ARHFA's RedBud Spectacular's heading futurity.
Clay Smith Apache Promise
Clay Smith and Apache Promise winning the Redbud Spectacular on Apache Promise. | Elite Equine Promotions Photo

Two-time World Champ Clay Smith has believed in his 6-year-old mare Apache Promise for the last four years‚ and in Oklahoma City June 3, he got to show her abilities off to her full potential.

On the 6-year-old mare by Promise Of The Sun out of RH Apache Heaven by the legendary Apache Blue Boy, Smith won the American Rope Horse Futurity Association’s RedBud Spectacular’s Heading Futurity against 91 of the best young rope horses in the country. With a score of 945.76 from high call, worth $12,075, plus another $850 for second in Round 1, Smith brought the mares’ all-time earnings to $42,925.

Full Redbud Spectacular 2023 Results

“I went to the Royal Crown two weeks ago in Oklahoma City, and I was just roping normal, and that didn’t show my horse the way I needed to,” Smith, 30, said. “I tried to learn a little bit—they like you to run in there and rate and set the steer up. I ran in there and took an extra swing and showed my horse today. It’s hard for us today because you try to rope as soon as you can. That shows how much control you have over your horse, without it being too forced.”

Smith had the help of fellow double-gold-buckle-winner Kollin VonAhn on the back side, who had the first three calls as a helper in the tough short round.

“Kollin roped brilliant today,” Smith said. “Those steers were strong today. They had enough runs on them where they really run.”

Great from the Get Go

Famed AQHA breeder David James (former owner of legendary show-horse sire Invitation Only) raised Apache Promise, and Smith bought her as a 2-year-old.

“She’s one of those horses you never really remember training,” Smith said. “I used her quite a bit as a 2- and 3-year-old. I rode her outside, I branded steers on her, and we cut a bunch of bulls with her as a 2-year-old. I heeled on her quite a bit when she was 3. And by the end of her 3-year-old year, she was really good to head on.”

So by the next year, Smith and Apache Promise were ready to win. They finished second behind Tate Kirchenschlager’s Born In The Boondocs at the 2021 ARHFA World Championship, and they won Cole Davison’s futurity that year, too. As a 5-year-old, Smith rode her at the Guymon (Oklahoma) Pioneer Days ProRodeo, placing in the first go there, and winning an Ariat WSTR qualifier on her in Graham, Texas, this winter.

“I want to ride her everywhere so bad, so I’m just trying to hold off a little longer,” Smith laughed. “She’s fixing to get it everywhere because she’s just great.”

Smith will leave her home for the summer run, but he’ll pull her back out for the Northwest in 2023 to duke it out at rodeos like Ellensburg and Pendleton. Luckily, the mare is easy to maintain at home.

“I didn’t ride her the day before the Redbud, and the day before that, my wife headed six or seven steers on her,” Smith said. “She’ll spoil you because you don’t have to let her soak all day. You can get on her and ride her a little bit and be done.”

Big Picture

Smith’s father-in-law, Jason Richey, is partnering with him to build a top-tier horse program to keep the whole family in horses centered around their new stallion, Bet Hes Ginnin, who they’ve bred to Apache Promise for her first foal in 2023 via embryo transfer.

“As many as there are of us, it will take a whole hassle of mares to make this deal work,” Smith said about his family and the Richey family. “It’s gotten really hard to go find horses I want to put my time and effort into. The reject cutters and reject reiners are nice, but they’re not bred to be rope horses. They can’t move their feet and if they can, a lot of times they don’t have the size. We want something big enough to head on, strong enough to head on, but can move its feet like a cowbred or cutting-bred horse. We’ve got the stud we like, and we have several mares we like. We’re excited about Rhen’s mare (Flag Ranch-bred Royal Crown futurity champ One Smart Pistola, who they purchased this spring) . We’re going to try those ones, because they’re really special. What we want to do is start a program to where we have horses we want to ride and eventually offer to the public as well. We are talking years in advance on the horses being able to show. It’s coming. This deal is getting bigger and we want to be ready. Four years is going to be going by fast, and we’ll be riding them. We’re excited about doing this deal—we have a stud and some pretty legit mares and we’re going to get after them.”

Cow-horse trainer Jess Morgan is working full-time for the program, and he’ll be keeping the horses tuned all summer in case Smith needs a horse sent out on the road.

“We have some options right now,” Smith admitted. “It’s a good place to be. I have Marty at home still—but he’s my in-laws now. He’s in the best shape he’s ever been in. If I need him, I can make a phone call and have him sent. But he’s going to hang out at home and stay home and not get the miles. It’s nice knowing he’s there if I need him if I need to fly somewhere and jump on him.”

Smith also has BoomBoom Firecracker—the epic futurity horse by Firewaterontherocks out of Trevor Brazile and Lari Dee Guy’s great mare Taras First Note, who stands at Select Genes for custom ICSI aspirations. Owned by the Richey family, Firecracker is busy jackpotting for the whole Richey family, but Smith did get to jump ride him to win the Windy Ryon with Junior Nogueira. TRJ

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