John Mitchell and Junie Wood barely qualified for Saturday night’s final round of the National Cutting Horse Association Super Stakes.
When the duo competed in the semifinals on Friday, they turned in a score of 215, which turned out to be the bubble score.
But in the final round, no previous scores counted. And that was a good thing for Mitchell and Junie Wood, who turned in a stunning score of 229 and clinched the open division title as the Super Stakes concluded its 24-day run at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
The victory earned Junie Wood’s owner, the Slate River Ranch of Weatherford, the coveted $75,000 prize.
It was Junie Wood’s second victory at a high-profile NCHA aged event in Fort Worth during the 2013-14 season. At the NCHA World Championship Futurity in December, Junie Wood clinched the non-pro title with Craig Crumpler of Wichita Falls as her rider.
The Slate River Ranch purchased Junie Wood during the Futurity and appointed Mitchell to be her rider.
After winning the Super Stakes, Mitchell, 41, is optimistic about showing Junie Wood.
“She’s an individual, and an individual has their strong points and attributes, and her strength is she’s so cowy and so quick,” Mitchell said. “She’s so smart about working a cow. She’s very cow smart.”
Junie Wood, who was the eighth horse to compete in the first bunch, won the title in dramatic fashion. Her winning score of 229 was seven points higher than Some Kinda Highbrow and Austin Shepard, who turned in a 222.
Some Kinda Highbrow, a gelding who was the second horse to compete in the first bunch, is owned by Shepard and his wife, Stacy, who live in Summerdale, Ala. Some Kinda Highbrow was sired by High Brow CD and was out of Some Kinda Memories.
Junie Wood and Some Kinda Highbrow were the only finalists who scored in the 220s. Boon San Baby and rider Jesse Lennox finished third with a 219.5. Boon San Baby is owned by Alice Walton’s Rocking W Ranch of Millsap. The mare was sired by Boon San and was out of Stylish Baby Doll.
The Super Stakes open division finals was the middle jewel of the sport’s Triple Crown Series. The first jewel was the December NCHA Futurity and the third jewel will be the August Summer Spectacular. All three jewels are in Fort Worth.
In the non-pro title race, Kristen Galyean of Claremore, Okla., and a gelding named ZR One clinched the title with a 223. Galyean earned $20,401. ZR One was sired by Peptoboonsmal, the 1995 NCHA Futurity open division champion, and was out of the mare That Catomine.
Cody Hedlund of Weatherford and a stallion named Meteles Cat finished second with a 219. Metelles Cat was sired by 2008 NCHA Futurity open division champion Metallic Cat and is out of Teles Lies.