By Amy Wilson
After setting a regular season earnings record, Mary Burger earned the No. 1 back-number for the 2016 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. In Round 7, she earned No. 1 again – this time in the form of a first place check and go-round buckle. She and Sadiesfamouslastwords “Mo” were 13.58 seconds.
“Mo was really running tonight. He is just able to cover a lot of ground,” Burger said of her 7 year old buckskin gelding. “His first and second barrels were awesome, but he ran off the third quite a bit. But even so, he was running so hard that he clocked very well. I was happy with him.”
Burger was also complimentary of the ground conditions, “I am just really pleased with how the ground has held, and its been a great experience to come see the ground good and run on it. Its just been really nice.”
Mo’s performance is even more impressive considering that he had been recovering for 6 weeks prior to the Wrangler NFR with a deep flexor tendon injury. “He hadn’t been run anywhere in that time and he was a little out of shape and a little off his game,” Burger said. In an effort to help Mo be ready to compete at the Thomas and Mack, Burger’s veterinarian, Dr. Charlie Buchanan, did a lot of therapy with Mo to reduce the inflammation. Burger is optimistic that Mo will be fine, and they continue to monitor him very closely.
With the World Championship on the line, the excitement and suspense continues to grow. “We have three more runs and anything can happen. It’s just so competitive – the runs, the horses, the riders – it’s been super, super tough especially with the ground being good,” Burger said. “We just hope and pray that we can get three more nice runs.”
At 68 years young, Burger became the oldest NFR qualifier. “Its been a story book year, and I just can’t believe it,” Burger said humbly.
In honor of Military Night, each barrel racer wore the dog tags of a fallen military female. As they took them for a ride, their hope was to bring attention to the sacrifices those in the military make to keep America protected and free, making it possible to pursue gold buckle dreams.
Sarah Rose McDonald and Bling were 13.66 to place second. Sherry Cervi and Arson claimed third place with a run of 13.71. Lisa Lockhart and Carley Richardson split fourth place with times of 13.72. Lockhart leads the average as the other barrel racer to be clean on all seven runs. Stevi Hillman picked up another check by placing sixth with 13.73 seconds.
Courtesy of WPRA