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Derby Intermediate Open Champion: Cats Smart Oak, shown by Mark Luis

The NRCHA Derby Intermediate Open Champion, Cats Smart Oak (WR This Cats Smart x Cookie Q Lena x Quanah O Lena), is owner Polly Potocar’s Non-Pro Limited Derby horse,. The 5-year-old gelding was entered in the Derby Open with Potocar’s trainer, Mark Luis, to school so he would perform better for Polly.

But the schooling run became much more when Luis qualified Cats Smart Oak for the Derby Intermediate Open finals – and then won the Championship with a total 660 score.

Luis and Cats Smart Oak scored a 216.5 in the herd and a 218.5 in the rein work, bunching them closely at the top of the Intermediate Open division with John Ward and Gotta Go Get it (Smart Little Pepinic x Got Mister x Mister Dual Pep) and Barney Skelton and Lucky Money (Meradas Money Talks x Lucky Baylite x Grays Starlight). Cats Smart Oak was the second horse to work down the fence, and he clinched the Intermediate win with a huge 225 in the cow work

“The fence run is what did it for me,” Luis said. “All the stars lined up, I guess! It felt great. That little horse – I haven’t shown him that much. I showed him in one other little schooling show. He was kind of messing with Polly, his owner, in the show pen, and she said she wanted me to show him here to get some schooling on him. The schooling ended up being a first-place win, so it was pretty neat.”

The Intermediate Championship came with a check for $6,424, a Gist buckle from NRCHA; a set of quick wraps from Back On Track; and a Platinum Performance gift certificate.

Derby Intermediate Open Champion, Cats Smart Oak, shown by Mark Luis.

Derby Intermediate Open Champion, Cats Smart Oak, shown by Mark Luis.

Potocar and her sister, Linda Wood, are both clients of Luis’s, and have been enthusiastic competitors in the NRCHA’s Non-Pro Limited Derby division since it was first offered two years ago. The sisters keep their horses at Luis’s Paso Robles, Calif., training facility full time, and while Luis rides Cats Smart Oak regularly to keep him in shape for Potocar, he rarely works the gelding down the fence.

“I didn’t realize he was as good a fence horse as he is,” Luis said. “I didn’t even know he could run that hard! Polly just does the boxing and we don’t go down the fence much. When he took off tonight, I thought, wow, he does have some speed! It’s a heck of a way to finish out his derby years.”

Potocar is offering Cats Smart Oak for sale, in order to bring up another young horse for the brand-new NRCHA Non-Pro Limited Futurity divison, which debuts at the Snaffle Bit Futurity in Reno this fall. Both she and Wood are excited about showing in three-event competition without the demands of fence work.

“They really enjoy the Derbies, and they’ve already bought two 3-year-olds for the Non-Pro Limited Futurity,” Luis said.