RODEO HORSEPOWER: Sherry Cervi’s Stingray
Sherry Cervi’s world champion mount Stingray is Cory Petska’s next ace in the hole.
When Cory Petska wheeled around the corner in round three of the 2017 Bob Feist Invitational, a few people in the stands whispered to one another, “Man, Petska’s on another of Potters’ horses, and that one looks a lot like Stingray.” But by the fifth round, kids gathered around the stripping chute to yell, “STINGRAY!” as Petska rode out of the pen.
MP Meter My Hay, known as Stingray to anyone who even occasionally watches barrel racing, belongs to four-time world champion barrel racer Sherry Cervi, who also happens to be Petska’s wife. Cervi’s father, Mel Potter, raised the iconic palomino at their ranch in Marana, Ariz., and the now 15-year-old mare was Cervi’s ProRodeo mount for nine years. In her career, Stingray carried Cervi to the 2010 and 2013 WPRA world titles, set the previous arena record of 13.49 seconds at Las Vegas’ Thomas & Mack, was voted by the top 15 barrel racers as the Horse with the Most Heart in 2013 and has been a big part of Cervi’s record-setting $3.2 million ProRodeo earnings.
This winter, Cervi decided the mare had nothing left to prove on the cloverleaf. She went to the breeding barn, where they successfully flushed an embryo to $1.19-million AQHA racing winner Kiss My Hocks (Tempting Dash x Romancing Mary, by Tres Seis). Then, Cervi started to leg her back up, but this time, for her husband.
“I’ve heeled on her on and off her whole life,” Petska said. “We heeled on her when she was 3. I crippled my good horse on the first one (at the BFI), and I tried to ride him on the second one. He kept getting worse. She was the only one we had with us, and I don’t like borrowing horses. I have been wanting to crack her out anyway, and I figured it would be as good a place as any.”
Luckily, Petska’s good one, Chumlee, just overreached and should be ready to go as the summer run gets underway, Petska said. But Stingray will be in the rig, ready to roll whenever he needs her.
“You don’t have to do anything special,” Petska said. “She scores good and she’s got barrel horse speed. You just rope. She’s just a touch green. That literally was the first roping she’s ever been to. She’s never went anywhere for money. She did everything I wanted. She let me catch on her. She scores good and can really run. She’s actually more cowy than my good horse. You can try to run her by and you can’t. She’ll be good in the little set ups and outside, too. I wouldn’t be scared to ride her anywhere.”
As for Cervi, loading Stingray on the trailer leaving Reno heading to Santa Fe is a relief. She’s riding 11-year-old Arson, owned by Tripp DuPerier, at the rodeos this summer.
“My rig doesn’t feel complete without her in it,” Cervi said. “We’ve always joked about riding her at the same rodeo. Those little kids who recognized her at the stripping chute—I’ve always said Stingray is more famous than I am, and that’s so cool because she’s an incredible mare. Fifteen isn’t that old. She loves the attention. We’ve taken really good care of her, and I don’t think she’s ready to be put out to pasture yet. I want him to win, so if he feels like she can help him, that’s awesome. You never know—since the BFI was her first competitive team roping, he’ll probably start at some smaller rodeo next.”