Junie Wood has shot at winning her second NCHA jewel

08/01/2014 9:05 PM

08/02/2014 12:01 AM

The National Cutting Horse Association will feature the final jewel of its 2013-2014 Triple Crown Series this weekend.

The NCHA Summer Spectacular Derby Open Division, which is the series’ third jewel, is tonight at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.

Historically, only three horses have won the Triple Crown. They are Smart Little Lena and rider Bill Freeman (1982-83), Docs Okie Quixote and Joe Heim (1983-84), and Chiquita Pistol (2002-03).

This season, there will be no Triple Crown winner. But there’s one talented first-year horse who has a chance to finish the year with wins at both the second and third jewels.

Her name is Junie Wood. She and rider John Mitchell of Weatherford have advanced to the Summer Spectacular’s open division finals. They made the cut after turning in a big score of 219 during the semifinal round Friday.

Junie Wood and Mitchell earned the 219 after working three cows during the 2 1/2-minute run.

“The cattle were tough, but as the run went on, she just got better and better,” Mitchell said.

On April 19, Junie Wood won the NCHA Super Stakes Open Division, which was the second jewel of the Triple Crown. The mare finished No. 1 after turning in a remarkable finals score of 229.

At the Summer Spectacular, Junie Wood has continued to make great runs.

“At the start of this show, I noticed that she was showing a little more calmness,” Mitchell said. “When a horse can get comfortable under this type of pressure, that’s a great sign.”

Junie Wood turned in scores of 221.5 and 219 in the first and second rounds.

“She’s been real true,” Mitchell said “Every run during this show, she’s shown really what she is. The scores tell you that. The scores show that she’s very consistent.”

Futurity champ falters

All three of the NCHA’s Triple Crown shows are in Fort Worth. The first jewel of the series was the NCHA Futurity finals on Dec. 14.

Dual Smart Kitty and rider Clay Johnson of Stephenville won the Futurity after turning in a finals score of 224.5. They spoiled their chances, however, of winning the Triple Crown when they failed to reach the April 19 Super Stakes finals.

At the Summer Spectacular, Dual Smart Kitty and Johnson got off to a great start, turning in a 221 in the first round. During the second round, the mare turned in a solid 215 and moved onto the semifinals.

But during the semifinals Friday, Dual Smart Kitty scored 213.5, which was 1.5 points shy of the bubble score. A field of 22 horses with scores of at least 215 made the cut.

Some Kinda Highbrow and rider Austin Shepard had the best semifinals score with a 221. No previous scores, however, will count during the finals.

During the semifinals, Junie Wood and Mitchell tied for second with the 219. Miss Callie Cat and Tarin Rice also posted a 219.

Non-pro update

Saturday’s performance will begin with the 3 p.m. Derby Non-pro finals. After that, the open division finalists will compete in the third jewel of the Triple Crown.

In the non-pro division, a field of 21 horses advanced to the finals after a semifinal round Thursday. Two horses tied for first after each scoring 217: Im Reydioactive and rider Kristen Galyean, and Cow Scents and Ashley Flynn.

Cow Scents is owned by Flynn and her husband, Sean, who are from Weatherford. Sean Flynn will compete in Saturday night’s open division finals. He made the cut on Smart Lil Jackson after a 215 during Friday’s open semifinals.

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