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Result: American Derby Invitational Championship

Location: Grovespring, Missouri

Post Date: Mar 27, 2021

Submitted By: Dennis Hidalgo

The American Derby Invitational Championship concluded March 27 at the Field Trial Sportsmen's Association (FTSA) near Grovespring, Mo.

American Derby Invitational Championship Winners

Miller's L'Eletto, white and orange pointer male piloted by Randy Anderson and owned by Karen Concilio of Conyers, Ga., won the 28th renewal of this Championship with an impressive two-find and three-back first series and a three-find and two-back final series. Game Heir, pointer male owned by Dr. Fred Corder of Corinth, Miss., and handled by Ike Todd, gained the runner-up position having three finds in the first series and a two-find second series.

The FTSA grounds at Grovespring were in excellent shape for this trial which was scheduled to start on March 25; however, the forecast for heavy rain in the afternoon postponed all of the running. Unlike most trials, this Invitational needs its first series to be run in a single day to be fair for all contestants.

The weather cleared out the following day and at 8:10 a.m. the first brace was set loose. The previous week's heavy rain had created high water in the creeks and some muddy areas; however, by the time this trial was run the waters had subsided and mud wasn't an issue.

The courses have been well maintained and feed strips on edges attract and hold birds. Pre-released birds were scarce this year, however there were plenty of supplemented birds released. Jim Lowry is the grounds keeper and has made great improvements. Gravel on the roads, parking lots and paths, feed strips and mowing have made the grounds some of the best.

This trial is a qualifying trial for the National Championship. The format is an initial series of one-hour heats and a second series of ninety minutes. From the first series the judges determine the dogs to move on to the second series. The final judgment is based on the combination of their performances in the two series.

Derby dogs earn points at designated qualifying trials -- first place receives five times the number of dogs entered, second gains three times dogs entered and third gains points equal to dogs entered. A list of the qualifying trials was published now posted by the American Field prior to each season.

The final determination of the invited dogs for this renewal was not made until three days before the event. Como Thunder won the Don Fox Derby at the Missouri Open trial to place him among the top invitees. One dog, Lester's Boss Man, was unable to compet; this allowed World Class Bootlegger to attend. Once the twelve dogs were determined, the drawing was completed by Kendell Schmidt and Dennis Hidalgo.

Judges for this renewal were Bob Burchett from nearby Conway, Mo., and Rich Robertson, Jr. from Payette Ida. Rich has been training dogs all of his life; the skills were handed down from his father. He has trained setters and pointers; he has competed with many of them in the National Bird Dog Championship in Grand Junction, Tenn. Rich ran an average of two dogs per year at the National from 1984 to 2016 when he retired from training for the public. Rich has trialed dogs all over the United States and Canada, northeast to northwest, southeast to southwest. He now manages the ranch where he grew up and trains and handles German shorthaired pointers for Keith and Bobbie Richardson who purchased the ranch in 2012.

Bob Burchett was the director of the DNR in Iowa for many years and in 1988 started training dogs. He left his position with the DNR to be a fulltime trainer in 1994. He moved to Conway in 2013 after his marriage to Valerie. They have the next generation of trainer, five-year-old son Hyatt in que. Bob has trained Brittanys and has two of the dogs he trained-- Renegade's Kansas Kid and Masked Shoshoni War Chief -- in the Hall of Fame.

The top qualified Derby dogs that received an invitation were:

Number/Dog/ Sex/Handler/Points

1. Touch's Walk The Line, M; Ike Todd 713

2. Game Heir, M; Ike Todd 617

3. Lester's Boss Man, M; Gary Lester 600*

4. Late Hit, M; Tom Shenker 351

5. Sadie Firefly, F; Allen Vincent 318

6. Game Rebel, M; Ike Todd 279

7. Barshoe Forget Me Not, F; Allen Vincent 197

8. Como Thunder, M; Steve Hurdle 183

9. Touch's Wild Finale, M; Ike Todd 181

10. Touch's One Night Standard, M; Mark Haynes 140

11. Miller's L'eletto, M; Randy Anderson 138

12. Conner's Trigger Man, M; Ralph Conner 134

13. World Class Bootlegger, M; Randy Anderson 128

[*Dog not in competition.]

This renewal had three handlers with multiple dogs, Allen Vincent, Ike Todd and Randy Anderson. These three handlers acquired 66% of the points needed for qualification with Ike at 45%, Allen at 13% and Randy at 8%. The top ranked invitee was Touch's Walk the Line with 18% of the overall points.

It takes a village to run a trial. This trial's village consisted of the Chairman Kendell Schmidt, George Hill, Hank Jansen, Kipp Linard, and Jim Lowry.

The American Derby Invitational Championship was sponsored by Purina. The financial assistance of this fine company is greatly appreciated and the supply of dog food to the winners is happily received. Purina Pro Plan fuels the majority of field trial champions, especially the upper echelon. Thank you, Purina, for your continued support of field trials! Jim Morehouse, SportDog's and Purina's representative helped sponsor the stake with a SportDog Training Collar for the winner.


Miller's L'Eletto (Italian for chosen one) is a product of a line breeding to Miller's Happy Jack. His sire is National Champion Miller's Speed Dial. He was developed by Scott Mason of Mayfield Ky. Scott took the dog north for the summer where Randy persuaded him to sell him to Karen Concilio who has successfully campaigned with her Vizslas. This is a great way to start with her first pointer.

As to Game Heir, Ike Todd relayed, "It was clear early on he was special. His first time in front of a horse he pointed a rabbit from a distance with style! Style, ambition and nose to burn. Friendly personality, great conformation. Got the best attributes from either side of his pedigree. Placed in the first Derby trial last fall. Finished season with a placement."

According to the American Field, Game Heir was second in the total points standings for the season. Game Heir was bred and raised by his owner, Dr. Fred Corder.

The winners' performances are detailed in each series in the order they appeared.


Schedule to start March 25, the forecast of heavy rain caused the delay and rain it did! March 26 breakaway at 8:10 a.m. due to a brief fog delay.

Game Heir (Ike Todd) and Como Thunder (Steve Hurdle). Co-owner David Russell was mounted to watch his Como Thunder. Both dogs were ahead in breakaway bottom and across the creek. Game Heir had a well located find on the left edge as we entered Davis bottoms at 21. Another pretty find for Game Heir came at 28 in the far end of Davis Bottoms; Thunder failed to back and was up. Heir showed to the front in Island field and below Horse Killer hill. Game Heir had an unproductive on Apple tree hill. He scored his third find entering the Little Vine loop, just before time was called with all in nice order.

Touch's One Night Standard (Mark Haynes) and Miller's L'Eletto (Anderson). Standard pointed birds at 8 with L'Eletto backing. L'Eletto had a find at 21 on the left of Sycamore, nicely done. Standard pointed at the pond by the well house with L'Eletto backing at 28. Independent finds occurred on top of the hill by Daugherty's at 31. Standard stood in the feed strip on the right and L'Eletto on the left both were successful. Standard had another stylish find upon entering the bull pasture, L'Eletto backed. L'Eletto showed well in horse corral valley as we watched from Climer's hill. Both finished the loop above the clubhouse.

Touch's Wild Finale (Todd) Conner's Trigger Man (Ralph Conner). Breakaway was at the clubhouse parking lot with Keith Wright mounted to watch his dog. Finale was pointing at 3, just below the first pond for Ike. Trigger Man had birds for his owner, Ralph at 5, on the right in the clubhouse loop. Point was called far up the ridge near Daugherty's for Finale; this proved to be unproductive. Trigger Man had a find in the chute at 31 and another on top of the ridge loop, this time with Finale backing. Both of these finds required relocations which were performed well, with Trigger showing his long, accurate nose by relocating directly to the birds when sent.

Game Rebel (Todd) was out of pocket and the retrieval device was out before Davis bottoms at 19. Late Hit (Tom Shenker) pointed on the left at 20 upon entering Davis bottoms but only feathers were found. As we entered the Island field, Hit was pointed out by owner-handler Shenker in the keyhole at the far end of the field. At 43 he notched a good find just before Horse Killer hill with a successful relocation. Another stop on top of Apple tree hill turned out to be a turkey at 48. Hit finished to the front approaching Little Vine loop.

Barshoe Forget Me Not (Vincent) and World Class Bootlegger (Anderson). Mick Marietta was on board to watch Bootlegger. Forget Me Not was not pleasing her handler and was leashed at 21. Bootlegger had a barren stand at 17 on Sycamore's left edge and he stopped to flush at 24 by the pump house pond. Bootlegger had a lengthy absence which caused Anderson to ask for the device at 57.

Touch's Walk The Line (Todd) and Sadie Firefly (Vincent) followed. Dr. Jim Mills was riding for Sadie. Both dogs had good forward races. Walk the Line finished to the front with Sadie on the right edge. Neither dog had bird contact.


Four dogs were called back for the 90-minute final series. The judges paired them as follows:

Tom Shenker's Late Hit from brace No. 4 with lke Todd's Touch's Wild Finale from the third brace were the first to appear in the finals. The second brace included Randy Anderson with Millers L'Eletto from the second brace and Ike Todd with Game Heir from the first brace.

Late Hit and Touch's Wild Finale broke away on a sunny Saturday at 7:50 a.m. Both dogs were seen at the end of the breakaway field far to the front. They were showing their legs in the double gate field. Both were seen again in Davis bottoms; Finale showed on the top right and Late Hit on the west edge. At 36, Finale pointed at the end of the island field, as the judge approached the bird lifted and was not seen. Knowing the bird was gone, Ike elected to take the dog on without flushing. Late Hit styled up on the right edge, before Horse killer hill. After a lengthy relocation birds were eventually produced. Finale had a barren stand with Late Hit honoring in Little Vine loop. At 66 minutes, just off Little Vine, Finale had birds well located with Late Hit backing once again. Both dogs showed well going into Sycamore valley and up the hill to the twin barns. Point was called by Shenker only to find out his dog was backing Finale. Ike flushed a fine covey deep in the briars at time.

Game Heir and Miller's L'Eletto were away at the twin barns. L'Eletto had a find on the right side of the field just past the twin barns at less than a minute, great work. Anderson called point again at 7, the dog on the left edge entering the bull pasture. Well located, the birds boiled out of the feed strip. At 27, Heir suffered an unproductive on the hill top between the corrals and clubhouse. At 33 L'Eletto had an attractive find near the clubhouse loop's small pond. Heir had a quality find at 46, in the chute below the barns. L'Eletto styled up but moved on just after the double gates. Game Heir had a find in the keyhole below the cemetery with L'Eletto backing. Both dogs were strong up the breakaway ridge loop and finished strong through the double gates field. Both faded out of sight to the front at time. It was an exciting brace to witness.

Grovespring, Mo., March 27

Judges: Bob Burchett and Rich Robertson


[One-Hour Qualifying Heats; Ninety-Minute Finals] -- 12 Pointers

Winner--MILLER'S L'ELETTO, 1691820, pointer male, by Miller's Speed Dial--Bryson's Dialing Lady. Karen Concilio, owner; Randy Anderson, handler.

Runner-Up--GAME HEIR 1691409, pointer male, by Dominator's Rebel Heir--Game Snow. Dr. Fred Corder, owner; Ike Todd, handler.