Sibling Sweep: Schafer Dominates Colorado Classic on Spitz Quarter Horses Bred Standouts

Born On Derby Day races to the Colorado Classic Futurity Championship and Famous Cash Can strikes in the Maturity, both under the expert guidance of Ashley Schafer.
Ashley Schafer barrel racing
Born On Derby Day and Ashley Schafer won the 2022 Colorado Classic futurity championship. TK210 Photography.

Tallying Ashley Schafer’s total earnings of nearly $67,000 from the ninth annual Colorado Classic Futurity and Maturity took a sharp pencil. The Brock, Texas, trainer traveled north to Montrose, Colorado, where she pitched a shutout June 16-18 at the Montrose County Fairgrounds indoor arena. Riding the strawberry roan speedster Born On Derby Day (“Derby”), owned by Schafer and her husband Seth, she achieved a total on two runs of 30.833 to win the $70,000-added Stallion Incentive Futurity, the $9,000-added Horse Hair Analysis Futurity, and $500-added Anchor Roofing Open Slot Race. Derby was also eligible for the $500-added Vista Equine Breeders Futurity side pot, which she won.

“Ashley was at the very first Colorado Classic back in Colorado Springs, back in the days of ‘Big Green’ (Schafer covered the country in a green semi pulling a massive stock trailer for years),” said Colorado Classic producer and host of The Money Barrel podcast Kayla Jones. “There have been years she brought a trailer full of horses to our event and took home zero dollars, but she’s always supported us and this year she is taking home quite a bit more than that!”

Maintaining her dominance, Schafer won the $20,000-added Stallion Incentive Maturity and $3,000-added Maverick Steel Maturity aboard the blue roan mare Famous Cash Can (“Albany”). Their cumulative time of 31.128 seconds was worth more than $10,000 for owners Joe and Carla Spitz, who bred both mares. Derby and Albany also notched significant earnings in the $4,000-added Stallion Incentive Open 4D, Friday’s $1,000-added MVP Open 4D and Saturday’s $1,000-added Great West Truck and Trailer Open 4D. The Spitzes also banked $7,973 from the $29,000-added Stallion Owners Bonus.

“The Spitzes have been loyal Colorado Classic stallion owners with Freckles Ta Fame and Streakin Boon Dox,” added Jones. “We are so excited to have had the weekend be a great one for the entire team.”

“I want to thank Joe and Carla Spitz, they’re the reason for these two horses, they allowed me to buy an embryo out of KR Last Fling (“Laramie”) and get Derby. They own Famous Cash Can as well, so I definitely want to thank them,” said Schafer. “My team and my sponsors, I owe a big thanks to everyone who is part of this. My husband Seth does all my shoeing, he started both of these mares, he’s a huge, huge part of making all this possible. Ali Martin and her son Brayden were with me all week in Montrose, and they’ve helped me a bunch.”

From left to right: Ali and Brayden Martin, Ashley and Payson Schafer with Futurity champion Born On Derby Day, and Joe and Carla Spitz with their Maverick Steel Maturity winner Famous Cash Can. Photo by Bonnie Wheatley

Interestingly, both Albany and Derby were switched from taking the right barrel first to the left relatively recently.

“I futuritied Famous Cash Can as a 4-year-old last year and I won $105,000 on her last year as a 4-year-old futurity horse,” said Schafer, who won the first round of the 2021 Colorado Classic on her. “She is a phenomenal horse. I switched her to the left pretty recently, which sounds pretty crazy, but I switched Derby left after she won the Kinder Cup (in February) and then she won the Elite (in March) to the left right after that. I switched Albany kind of because of how well Derby took it.”

| READ “Learn Why Left is Right for Aged Event Champions Derby and Albany

The 2017 mare Famous Cash Can (Freckles Ta Fame x KR Last Fling x A Streak Of Fling) was ridden by Ashley Schafer for owners Joe and Carla Spitz to the Colorado Classic Maturity title and more than $10,000 in earnings. The recently switched lefty “Albany” rounds the first turn in perfect position en route to a time of 15.401 in round two.

The 2015 gelding Jets Top Gun (Blazin Jetolena x GL Famous First Lady x Dash Ta Fame) owned by Busby Quarter Horses and ridden by Andrea Busby were Maturity reserve champions with a 31.338. Busby was third in the second go with a 15.441.

Winner of the $500-added Non-Pro Maturity was the 2014 gelding Sockit To Me Nonstop (BHR Frenchies Socks x Ima Bubblin Bug x Nonstop Bubblin), owned and ridden by Katie Mace. Mace’s cumulative time of 31.837 was worth $718.

Schafer’s Colorado Classic & Run At The Rose Highlights

  • Born On Derby Day owned by Seth and Ashley Schafer – 1/2 in round 1, 1st in round 2, 1st Colorado Classic Futurity aggregate, 1st Open and Slot Race for $30,500
  • Famous Cash Can owned by Spitz Quarter Horses – 4th Run At The Rose aggregate, 1st Colorado Classic Maturity aggregate, 3rd Open, 3rd Slot Race for $12,000
  • Swoon Ta Be Famous owned by Robin Kuhnhein – placed in both rounds, 4th Run At The Rose Futurity aggregate, 2nd in round 2, 5th Colorado Classic Futurity aggregate for $15,000+
  • French Streakof Fame owned by Spitz Quarter Horses – placed in both rounds and 6th in the Colorado Classic Futurity aggregate for $7,700
  • Makin Dark Money owned by Nicole Schmidt – Placed in round 2 of the Colorado Classic Futurity, $1,700 in earnings

Schafer’s Futurity Fast Time

When Schafer and Derby laid down a 15.295-second run in round two of the futurity, their picture-perfect performance set the bar high for the remaining runners in the 138-entry futurity field. Coming closest in the round was 2017 gelding Swoon Ta Be Famous (Dash Ta Fame x Guys Tots N Fries x Frenchmans Guy) owned by Robin Kuhnhein and also ridden by Schafer with a time of 15.422. Molli Montgomery and Old Fort Days Futurity winner TRHeavens Illuminated (JL Dash Ta Heaven x TR Dashing Badger x Mr Illuminator) ran a 15.635 to pair with their round one winning time of 15.418 for a total on two of 31.053, which secured the reserve championship and more than $22,000 for the 2018 gelding’s owner Tracy Lambert.

Schafer says her round two strategy was to improve upon the second-place 15.538 Derby ran in round one.

“Honestly, yesterday she made such a great run, but she felt a little bit too round around the backside of her turns,” said Schafer. “I just squared her up a little bit today. I loped her through out in the back pen. I just prepared her a little bit differently out there. Derby wants to please, so however you work her she adapts to it easily. I just tried to find that balance between too round and too square and tried to keep her right there.”

Balanced to perfection one might say.

“She felt really snappy around the backside of her turns today because of that,” said Schafer. “Yesterday I felt like she stayed round just like a half stride too long. She still split second in the first round, she was awesome, I’m not taking it away from her, but today she was just so much snappier around the backside. That’s really all I changed from yesterday to today.”

Schafer, who attended the prior weekend’s Run At The Rose Futurity produced in cooperation by Taylor Hildreth and Jones, says she drug a barrel on Derby in her first run, then slipped in the second run.

“She stood back up and just kind of cruised out and still ran a (15).9,” said Schafer. “I couldn’t fault her anywhere last weekend either, it just wasn’t our weekend, so I was really excited for her to come back as good as she did. This is her fourth futurity win, she’s just a great horse.”

In the immediate future, Schafer says Derby will enjoy a month off during which time she hopes to get an embryo out of the mare before preparing to compete in the upcoming Royal Crown Race in August.

Molli Montgomery rode TR Heavens Illuminated (JL Dash Ta Heaven x TR Dashing Badger x Mr Illuminator) to the top of round one with a 15.418. Montgomery and “Cyrus” were Colorado Classic Futurity reserve champions.  

Winning the $500-added Mandi Thomas Memorial Non-Pro Futurity was Julia Leao riding Miss Rocking Vodka (Triple Vodka x Miss King Gin x My Masster Gin). Leao’s cumulative time of 31.713 swept the Non Pro division for $873 and earned her another $2,055 in Open 4D and Stallion Incentive Futurity money.

Full Circle

Derby is sired by Joe and Carla Spitzes’ phenomenal National Finals Rodeo qualifying stallion Freckles Ta Fame, “Can Man,” and out of the great mare KR Last Fling.

“I ran both of her parents,” said Schafer. “I think it’s really helpful to get to run the family like that, I knew the mother and father so well and I’ve had the sister too, so it really has helped me with her, with just all the little things. I feel like her mother was one of the best horses that I’ve ever ridden—still to this day, and obviously her babies are amazing. She was just such an amazing horse so it’s fun to get to see it come full circle.”

A product of proven parentage, Derby is living up to her royal lineage, and that fact is not necessarily surprising to Schafer.

“It’s hard to explain but she’s as good as I—she exceeds my expectations—don’t get me wrong, but I’m also not surprised by her greatness because of how great her parents were. I feel like she was bred for it.”

Despite the poise with which Derby takes on her job, Schafer says the mare is not without her idiosyncrasies.

“Honestly, she’s really quirky and kind of hot, but really wants to please,” said Schafer, adding that while she immediately recognized greatness in the filly as a 2-year-old, developing that talent has taken commitment to the process.  

“My husband broke her to ride as a 2-year-old,” said Schafer. “The first time I ever rode her as a 2-year-old, I literally was like whoa…whoa. That’s the only way I can describe it. You could just feel so much under you with her, and she was fractious you could say, just reactive.”

Knowing she had a high-powered prospect in Derby, Schafer opted to hold her to compete as a 5-year-old futurity horse just as she’d done with Laramie who ran out more than $139,000 during her career.

“I could tell right away that she was going to need time, you weren’t going to be able to rush anything with her,” said Schafer. “She needed everything to just be fed to her lightly and as she could take it. And if she’s having a day, you might as well just forget it. If she’s having a day, I just slow everything back down and I do it at a walk. I’m not saying I won’t get onto her, but you can’t overdo it with her, or it just blows her top.”

Schafer says what she learned training Laramie has helped her navigate Derby’s path to success.

“I have been really patient with her and just let her build into what she is,” she said. “That’s why I say it helps to run the parents because I knew it already because of her mother. Her mother was that way, she would be the quietest, sweetest horse you’ve ever ridden or a fire-breathing dragon and there was no in between.

“I learned just to slow everything back down when she’s having a day and try to get her to walk flat-footed and soften up that way,” added Schafer. “Don’t pick a fight and think you’re going to win it. I think had I not ridden her mother I maybe would’ve picked more fights with her over it to make her overcome it, but because I’d already ridden her mother and her sister, I knew better.”

Beyond her expert training and riding, Schafer has a stable of sponsors behind her who help keep everything working.

“I want to thank my sponsors for helping my horses look and feel great,” she added, recognizing, Classic Equine, Forco Feed Supplement, MVP, Martin Saddlery, Summitjp, Silver Lining Herbs, Neutrabacph, RockAndRollDenim and KahmCBD.

A family event in every sense, the Colorado Classic welcomed contestants on Thursday evening for a contestant reception sponsored by where good food and conversation helped set the tone for a fantastic event.

For more information on the Colorado Classic Futurity and Maturity, Stallion Incentive, and Run At The Rose, visit