John Philipp Dominates to Repeat Badlands Heeling Title and Earn $28K

John Philipp gets the win on South-Dakota-bred Sugar Reyy in 2022.

Photo courtesy Badlands Bits & Spurs Futurity

For the second straight year, John Philipp showed the best 4-year-old heel horse at the Badlands Bits & Spurs Futurity, August 25, in Rapid City, South Dakota.  

Philipp also showed the second-place horse, and took a third 4-year-old to the Finals out of 34 entries. Plus, in the 5-6-year-old division, Philipp placed second, third and fifth for a total heeling haul of $28,387 in Rapid City. 

Badlands Futurity founders Bob Harris and J.D. Gerard want to create the premier event for 4-year-old rope horses in the country, and they’ve poured added money into that division. With a total payout of more than $118,000 and custom Priefert chutes as prizes, the Badlands’ purse was up more than a third from last year’s inaugural edition. Harris and Gerard hold out 25 percent as opposed to the customary third, and they offer 100 percent payback in the Limited sidepots.  

Last year, Philipp’s champion mare was Bill Cappel’s BMC Metallic Gem. This year, he was aboard his own sorrel colt, Sugar Reyy, for the win and he placed second on Luke Jones’ mare Cowgirl Toy. Philipp was first and second callback with a good 10-point cushion over Trevor Brazile on his Paint mare, Big Time Movie Star (“Queen”) – fresh off her Badlands heading title. 

In the short round, Philipp had a leg penalty on his first horse, then watched as Queen and Brazile had a miscommunication, giving them a run of 9.0 and a 293. That opened the door for Philipp to go 8.4 on Cowgirl Toy and 8.3 on Sugar Reyy and cement the top two holes with good scores. Sugar Reyy earned the first-place check plus round money for $11,910 plus the custom Priefert chute, while Cowgirl Toy earned $8,627.  

“Of course I watched what Trevor did,” said John, 43. “But what matters is that you’ve got to get times. You’ve got to complete the course. I’ve gotten in sync with Sugar Reyy this summer, so you just hope he has some eye appeal. Because I have to rope out of reflex.” 

The short round was about to be the Philipp-Brazile show, because another contender for first place was Brazile’s Appaloosa gelding, Ima Lena On Tequila (“Icon”). On the first two steers, Icon had scored right with Cowgirl Toy, taking hits like a statue – until a hickey on a horn in Round Three took him out. In the Limited Sidepot, Nick Pullara took first on Stormm Force for $3,125, plus fifth in the overall futurity for another $1,190. J.D. Gerard and Jeff Carney rounded out the Limited money earners. 

Philipp bought Sugar Reyy this winter from Gerard, a South Dakota trainer, because he needed a futurity horse and didn’t have any coming 4 (his family did raise a couple of 3-year-olds he’ll campaign next year). Gerard had a good start on the gelding, which had never been hauled anywhere before Rapid City. And Cowgirl Toy, a dark palomino tank, was just purchased by Jones from Jerry Sharp. She was started as a cowhorse, and has already qualified for the World Show in heading, heeling and tie-down roping.  

“My middle son fell in love with her,” said Jones, who incidentally raised last year’s champ, BMC Metallic Gem, and had shown Cowgirl Toy’s sire, Wranglered (Grays Starlight/Hollywood Dun It). “He hauled her to junior-high rodeos and was the Iowa state champion in team roping on her this summer.” 

Jones is a busy guy. Aside from hauling to youth rodeos, he’ll be back at a cow-horse futurity in Rapid City right away and is fresh off the Run for the Million in Las Vegas, where he won the fencework and placed fifth overall. 

But the standout of the day in Rapid City had to be John’s helper. Little brother Shane Philipp, 35, turned one for John at the Range Days Rodeo in the adjacent outdoor arena Tuesday night and they got the last money hole. On Wednesday, Shane won the 5-6-year-old heading futurity, showing four head horses. Then Thursday, he turned well over a dozen steers flawlessly as John showed seven heel horses – except for one barrier on an extra-slow draw. Shane mostly helped on a 9-year-old sorrel gelding raised on the Philipp ranch in Washington, Texas. Unlike Brazile and Miles Baker, who talk strategy before every run and make game plans for every horse, the Philipps brothers just back in and rope.  

“How many steers have Shane and John roped together in their lives?” asked J.D. Yates, who edged Brazile to slide into third place on Lyle and Lorrie Grantham’s Cherokee Catt. “That’s where you get that continuity.” 

Yates, whose horses earned $16,203 on both ends in Rapid City, had loaned John a heel horse the day prior, which ultimately helped Shane beat Yates in one of the heading futurities. He goes back many decades of friendship with their dad, Johnnie Philipp. He had a lot shorter drive back to Pueblo to watch his son run a steer at the Colorado State Fair than the Philipps boys had hauling two rigs back to southeast Texas. But those 36,387 dollars will shorten the trip. Plus, they love the concept. 

“I love the emphasis on 4-year-olds at this futurity,” said John. “It puts a little ‘cowboy’ in it, or horsemanship. I mean, I’ve taken 6-year-olds to rodeos. And you can take a horse every year and win on it. But with 4-year-olds, every year you’ve got to start over and do your work.” 

Sugar Reyy, by the High Brow Cat daughter Kit Kat Sugar and out of the Dual Rey daughter A Little Reylena, is already consigned to the Philipp Ranch sale on October 8. But the gelding will also be entered in Fort Worth’s ARHFA World Championship, just in case the new owner wants to keep going with him. What’s more? Philipp has toyed with the idea of throwing in the new prize chute to the winning bidder. 

MORE FROM THE BADLANDS BITS & SPURS FUTURITY:

Queen Reigns Supreme

Philipp Wins 5-6-Year-Old Heading Futurity on PR Tari Dracula

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