As the world spun with quarantines and coronavirus panic, it stopped for Marana, Arizona's Potter and Petska family March 23, 2020, with the loss of PC Frenchman's Hayday—known across the Western world as Dinero—at the age of 25.
The palomino son of Sun Frost, out of the Tiny Circus mare Caseys Charm, first found fame under World Champion barrel racer Sherry Cervi, who ran him at the National Finals Rodeo in 2005. But by then the horse was already pulling double time. In 2004, Cory Petska cracked him out in the heeling at the California Rodeo Salinas—winning the six-head rodeo behind Clay Tryan.
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"He scored good, and he was really fast," Petska, the 2017 World Champion Heeler, said. "He was probably one of the best heel horses I ever had. I probably hadn’t been on as many horses that were as easy as he was. And he was awesome to haul. I didn’t have any trouble with him. Having a horse like that, that was that good, makes you realize how much easier it can be on a good horse. It sets the standards for the rest of them."
Notably, in 2005, Dinero competed for three heelers and one barrel racers in the short round at Nampa, Idaho's Snake River Stampede.
"My mom hauled him there that day," Cervi remembered. "At Nampa, there's an afternoon performance before the short round. Walt Woodard called and asked if he could ride him on the second one in the afternoon, and we said OK but that he wasn't there yet. My mom hauled butt to get him there, Walt rode him and made it back, and we all rode him in that short round that night."
Petska was high-back that night with Tee Woolman, and he mounted out Woodard and Richard Durham on Dinero that night, too. Petska won the rodeo on Dinero (photo at the top of the page) and Woodard placed, and then they immediately pulled the rope saddle off his back and threw Cervi's barrel saddle on him. Cervi went on to place in the short go and the average later that night.
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"He was just so good anywhere," Petska said. "I think we won $18,000 on him that night in Nampa alone."
The Potters bought Dinero as a 2-year-old at the 1997 Cowan Brothers' Quarter Horse Production Sale in Rapid City, South Dakota. He was the highlight of the sale, as a full brother to four-time AQHA/PRCA Barrel Horse of the Year Bozo, ridden by Kristie Peterson.
"He had such an impact on two sides of the arena," Tigh Cowan, who raised Dinero (in partnership with the Louiseau family) and put the first rides on him, said. "He had a great impact on the NFR with both Stingray and Sister. I really enjoyed what Sherry wrote about them both winning at Nampa on him and that he was diverse enough to do that. He represents the overall diversity and grittiness of the Sun Frost horses that we have raised."
Dinero's offspring have banked over $4.1 million in EquiStat's barrel racing earnings—and that's not including the hundreds of thousands Petska won on just two daughters of Dinero.
"I had a daughter of his I called Lori," Petska said. "I actually rode her when I roped with Shaine Sproul. At Reno we had $3,000 won, and we had almost $90,000 won going into the NFR. She was just as good as her dad. She was really good. And there was Daisy, and I won Houston on her. I didn’t get to ride her very long before we started breeding her."
But Dinero didn't just produce barrel horses and Petska's heel horses. Derrick Begay's gray mare Bowkay is a daughter of Dinero, and aboard her Begay won a sizable portion of his $1.2 million in career earnings.
"I don’t feel like he’s gotten the credit he deserves," Petska said. "I think he’s one of the best studs there’s ever been, but obviously I’m biased. Just off Stingray and Sister, and there’s more coming up that are awesome. Still I don’t think he gets the recognition he deserves."
As with many great stallions, Dinero's legacy is far from finished. Dustin Bird now owns four Dinero colts, and just this year he bred his great bay mare My Frosty Cocoa—known as Dolly—to the stud.
“Bird Ranch bought two colts by Dinero from Mel Potter last year, and we were so impressed with their bone and their try, plus how useful they’re going to be on both the ranch and in the arena, that we bought two more this year," Bird said. "I’ve also been really particular about which studs I’ve crossed Dolly on, and there’ve only been a few. I’m crossing my finger we get a Dolly/Dinero baby in 2021 because that might be one of the coolest crosses going.”
"I couldn't guess how many are out there or who has all of them," Petska added. "I've got a Dinero baby that's 7 I've been jackpotting on in Texas, and we've probably got 15 to 20 we ride every day at the house."
Cervi and Petska were at their place in Texas when Dinero passed away, but Petska said the rest of the Potter family was at home in Marana with the great horse. He will remain on their Arizona ranch, and Petska is ordering a headstone to mark the spot where Dinero was laid to rest.
The Potters have frozen semen still available. For more information visit potterranch.com. TRJ