It was like déjà vu all over again at the National Reined Cow Horse Association Stakes in Las Vegas, Nev., as sisters Linda Wood, Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., and her sister, Polly Potocar, Thousand Oaks, Calif., claimed the NRCHA Non-Pro Limited Stakes Championship and Reserve Championship, respectively. Wood and Potocar pulled off an identical one-two finish at the 2012 NRCHA Derby in Paso Robles, Calif.
“We couldn’t do it without each other! It wouldn’t be as much fun,” said Wood, who guided her 2008 gelding, Cee Mr Cats Merada (Cats Merada x Cee Miss Money Rio) to a total 624 score (herd 205/rein 206/cow 213). Potocar earned the high-scoring cow work, a 214, aboard Cats Smart Oak (WR This Cats Smart x Cookie Q Lena) on her way to a composite of 615.5 for the Reserve placing.
Wood’s Championship came with a Gist buckle and C.R. Morrison Trophy from the NRCHA and a $1,215 paycheck, while Potocar took home $1,012. The prize money is substantially more than the Limited competitors are accustomed to, thanks to a new $1,000 added-money sponsorship from Gardiner Quarter Horses/Hes Wright On.
“Thank you to Amanda and Garth Gardiner for adding the money – it was really nice, and it’s a wonderful class,” Wood said. “We don’t want to go down the fence, but we wanted to do the herd work. We talked about going to the cutting, but now, with this division, we don’t have to go anywhere else!”
She and Potocar have supported the idea of a herd-rein-boxing division at the NRCHA limited age events from the beginning. They actively recruit their friends to compete, and were thrilled that their division attracted an impressive 10 entries at the Stakes.
“We are also really excited about the new Non-Pro Limited Futurity at Reno this year, too. I think it’s going to get bigger, I really do,” Wood said.
The sisters ride with NRCHA professional Mark Luis, Paso Robles, Calif., where their geldings reside full-time. They live several hours away from Luis’s facility and only ride a couple of times a month, which makes preparing for shows a challenge.
“That’s the hard part!” Potocar said, laughing. “That’s what we have Mark for.”
Both Wood’s and Potocar’s horses are 5-year-olds, which means they are not eligible for Derby competition after this year. The sisters reluctantly admitted they are considering selling their beloved mounts in the future, to make room for up-and-coming youngsters.
“We love them both, but then, on the other hand, we can’t keep them all. And if we get a 3-year-old, we can show them for three years, where with these, we just had them for two years,” Wood said.
The NRCHA Stakes, one of the five NRCHA Premier Events, boasts a payout of nearly $300,000 each year. Part of the event’s success is its tie to the NRCHA Subscribed Stallion program. Subscribed stallion owners pay a fee every year, and their 4- and 5-year-old offspring are the only horses eligible to show at the Stakes.
Stakes entries are shown in a snaffle bit or hackamore, competing in herd work, reined work and cow work. The event attracts many top Snaffle Bit Futurity horses from the past two years, as well as those who might have missed the Futurity but are now ready to perform competitively. Besides paying lucrative checks to the Stakes winners, the NRCHA also presents a monetary award to the nominator of the Stakes Champion’s sire in each division.
The NRCHA Stakes continues through Saturday, March 30, and also features a full slate of NRCHA horse show classes, a Bridle Spectacular, and American Quarter Horse Association-approved classes. For detailed information about the NRCHA Stakes, visit www.NRCHA.com.