Classic Non-Pro winner takes event in first appearance

Alexis Stephas, riding Once You Go Black, scores a 218 to win the 4 yr Old Amateur Finals. Stephas beat the second-place finisher by 10 points to take the event.



Alexis Stephas has to pay up on her bet with boyfriend, Brandon Dufurrena.

The wager went like this: If Dufurrena won the Classic Non-Pro finals tonight, he had to buy Super Bowl tickets – he’s a San Francisco fan; she pulls for New Orleans. But if Stephas won her finals, then she’d put her winnings toward watching the game live at the Superdome.

“I think we might be making plans to go to the Super Bowl,” she said. “We’ll see.”

Stephas and Once You Go Black marked 218 to win the $100,000 Amateur for 4-Year-Olds finals by 10 points.

With the victory in her first Augusta Futurity appearance, Stephas, of Chattanooga, Tenn., earned $1,600. Dick Thompson and Peppermint Cat placed second at 208 for $1,400, while Shawn Minshall and SVR Sweetness finished third (206, $1,200).

A junior at Middle Tennessee State majoring in sports management to be an NFL agent – she’s taking a break this semester – Stephas has been cutting for half her life. The youngest of four children, she’s the lone one in her family competing. The 2011 National Cutting Horse Association World Senior Youth Champion said her parents, Gus and Connie, are supportive of her career and her decision to leave college for a while.

“I’m taking my time,” Stephas said. “I told my dad I’m only young once. It’s a good excuse.”

The 20-year-old Stephas purchased Once You Go Black, a stallion by Hydrive Cat out of RG Sugar Lena, two weeks ago. Then she signed up for the Augusta Futurity last Friday, marking their first show together.

“He’s easy to get along with,” she said. “He’s the most fun horse that I’ve ever shown.”

She didn’t have that opinion in the fall when she worked horses for Brandon’s dad, Ed Duffurena. Before the NCHA Futurity, she made a deal to work Ed’s three other 3-year-old horses if Brandon would work Once You Go Black.

“I didn’t care for him beforehand,” she said. “He was so high strung getting him ready. I had no clue I’d be owning him.”