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LIFE IN THE FAST LANE

Owners’ first ‘rock star’ Lil Catbaloo carries Lloyd Cox
to another BI Derby win.

 

Five months into his 4-year-old season, Lil Catbaloo increased his earnings to $235,389 with a $90,395 win in the Breeder’s Invitational (BI) Derby Open on May 25 in Tulsa, Okla.

An outstanding final-round 227 effort gave the stallion (High Brow Cat x Sweet Lil Boo x Peptoboonsmal) a signature victory following several strong prior efforts. It gave trainer Lloyd Cox his second consecutive BI Derby Open win, following last year’s win on Dustin and Deena Adams’ Hottish (Spots Hot x Stylish Play Lena x Docs Stylish Oak).

Cox’s wife, Christina, gets the horses ready at shows and said Lil Catbaloo reminds her of Hottish. That’s because as electric and exciting as both can get inside cutting pens, both also seem calm, cool and collected as soon as they walk out of them.

“He’s really good-minded and he’s easy to be around,” Cox said. “He’s a pleasure to work and to ride and do any- thing with.”

Regarding his second BI Derby Open win in a row, Cox said, “I’d like to make it an annual deal, but this is not easy to do.” Overall, Cox has earned more than $400,000 at the first 10 editions of the BI, including more than $200,000 at the past two shows.

Like most great cutting horse trainers, Cox frequently points out that riders only win big events when armed with great horses. He cred- ited Lil Catbaloo’s owners and the resident trainer at their Montana ranch for sending another great one his way.

“Mitch Davis had this horse as a 2-year-old and he called me while I was in Paso Robles [at a Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association event],” Cox said. “He said something about bringing the horse and letting me take him on. He was prob- ably, in all honesty, the best 2-year-old I had ever sat on at that time. Mitch has just done a fabulous job. Credit him. He could have taken this horse to anybody. I’m thankful he chose me.”

Gene Morris, an oral surgeon based in Florence, Mont., and his wife, Michelle, a dental hygienist, have owned cutting horses for five years. A few of their horses fared well before, but the pair upgraded their program considerably when they bought Lil Catbaloo as a long yearling from breeder John Harrah, Reno, Nev.

“This is our first rock star. I love him and it feels great,” Michelle said, crediting Davis with helping them buy the horse. “We sent him to Lloyd, and the rest is history. It’s great history.”

Cox, a career earner of more than $6 million as a cutter, started working with Lil Catbaloo early in his 3-year-old season. The pair placed fourth at the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity in Fort Worth, Texas, to earn $112,036 right off the bat. They also were Derby Open Reserve Champions at the Arbuckle Mountain Futurity and reached two other Open finals earlier this year.

“He’s been very good and very consistent,” Cox said. “If I do my job, he usually does his. He’s got a lot of eye appeal and he’s pretty. I think one of his best attributes is how smart he is. He makes me look good.”