By Jolee Jordan
Reno, Nevada — The Reno Rodeo annually awards a pair of silver spurs to its champions along with a truckload of cash. The high level of competition and fast track inside the Reno Livestock Events Center’s huge outdoor arena are one of the ultimate proving grounds for ProRodeo contestants chasing WPRA World titles and trips to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR).
The Reno Rodeo made its way past the halfway point on Tuesday evening with five of the eight sets of barrel racers done with their preliminary competition. Ninety-six barrel racers are entered here with each lady getting two rounds of competition. A new set competes each day, running their first round during the morning slack and their second in the evening performance. Only the top twelve in the two-run average will compete in the finals for a chance for a Reno Rodeo Championship.
Twenty-four ladies took their shots at the leaders to begin the final week of the rodeo with the leaders coming out virtually unscathed. However, a few cowgirls set themselves up for a short go berth with their early week performances.
4th Set, Monday, June 19
Two years ago, Ivy Conrado was a rookie barrel racer, an unknown to the fans of professional rodeo but right here at the Reno Livestock Events Center she put her name in the minds of everyone in the sport with a blistering run of 16.93 to win the short round and land second in the average.
Today Conrado and her horse are famous, having been competitors at the 2016 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Conrado’s mare Tibbie was the 2016 AQHA/WPRA Horse of the Year as well.
The pair returned to Reno on Monday, putting up a smooth 17.31 to land in the money in the first round thus far. After running a 17.74 in the evening perf., Conrado gave herself a chance to make another appearance on Championship Saturday night with a two run total of 35.05 seconds.
The fast time on Monday evening was posted by a Wilderness Circuit cowgirl, Darby Fox. Fox and her horse Nick O Dynamite stopped the clock at 17.46 seconds.
5th Set, Tuesday, June 20
Although several ladies gave themselves a chance at Saturday night with solid opening round runs on Tuesday morning, it was Texas hauling partners Taci Bettis and Tammy Fischer who led the way. As the first two runners in slack, they both stopped the clock with 17.3’s with Bettis’ time one one-hundredth better, 17.37 to 17.38.
Bettis is the leading rookie in the WPRA so far this year and bought her horse from her mentor and hauling partner, Fischer. She has a chance to add to her lead after pairing her 17.37 with a 17.44 in the Tuesday evening performance to grab sixth in the current average with 34.81 seconds. She has a good chance to return for Saturday night’s short round.
California cowgirl Katie Pascoe ran the best time of the performance at 17.39 seconds. Her two-run time is just one one-hundredth behind Bettis in a share of seventh.
Wednesday’s set of barrel racers include former Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo Champ Carmel Wright, who is currently among the top twenty in the WPRA World standings along with top ten cowgirl Nellie Miller and current Wilderness Circuit leader Kali Parker. The WPRA’s fourth ranked cowgirl Amberleigh Moore will be in town as well, hoping to make her second straight trip to the Reno short go after finishing third a year ago.
On Thursday, 2014 Reno Champ Christine Laughlin will be in action along with two-time World Champ Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi.
Each performance of the Reno Rodeo can be watched live on The Wrangler Network. For more information on the Reno Rodeo, visit them on-line at www.renorodeo.com.
1. Jennifer Barrett, Beduinos Prospector, 17.16 seconds
2. Kathy Grimes, KG Blazin Nine Oh, 17.19
3. Taylor Jacob, Honor Thy Frenchman, 17.23
4. Tiany Schuster, Version Six, 17.30
5. Ivy Conrado, CFour Tibbie Stinson, 17.31
6. Sydni Blanchard, Famous Heartbreaker, 17.34
7. Taci Bettis, Bogie is a Smash, 17.37
8. Tammy Fischer, LK Sheza Hayday, 17.38
9. Cayla Small, Perks Pazazz, 17.38
10. Brittany Kelly, The Opossum, 17.39
1. Blanchard, 16.99 seconds
2. Small, 17.09
3. Jane Melby, Perks Pazazz, 17.16
4. Grimes, 17.28
5. Rachel Dice, Tivitosatthegogobar, 17.37
6. Katie Pascoe, JR Naughty Jet, 17.36
7. Bettis, 17.44
8. Sheena Robbins, Bar D Mr Dual Olena, 17.44
9. Sammi Bessert, Terrible Tommy Twist, 17.45
10. Darby Fox, Nick O Dynamite, 17.46
1. Blanchard, 34.33 seconds on two head
2. Grimes, 34.47
3. Small, 34.47
4. Melby, 34.66
5. Jacob, 34.72
6. Bettis, 34.81
7. Pascoe, 34.82
8. Dice, 34.82
9. Schuster, 34.92
10. Conrado, 35.05
11. Robbins, 35.07
12. Fischer, 35.08
Courtesy of WPRA