Fort Worth, Texas — Monday may be a day of blah for most regular working folks but for the barrel racers at the 2017 Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo (FWSSR), Monday was just right—that is to say, wow was it fast.
Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) cowgirls Jana Bean and Stevi Hillman were the first gunners in each of the two perfs on Monday and both took full advantage of the position.
Bean rode her super fast gelding Chick, the horse she more or less debuted to the rodeo world in Fort Worth a couple of years ago. That was a successful outing with Chick landing Bean in a tie for second in the average and more than $10,000 in earnings. History may be repeating as her 16.58 second run during the matinee performance landed her near the top of the pack once again.
Times have been remarkably consistent during the 2017 edition of the FWSSR, the longest event on the books in all of professional rodeo. The first performance here was January 20, nearly two weeks ago, and there have been 21 performances so far.
After Bean’s quick trip, it was her fellow 2016 WNFR competitor Stevi Hillman who set the crowd on fire on Monday night. Hillman has two outstanding horses to choose from at any given rodeo but in Fort Worth, she choose Truck for the job at hand. Just hours after picking up a check in the first round in San Angelo, Truck and Hillman smoked a run in 16.48 seconds to shoot to the top of the leaderboard, besting Cayla Small by just one one-hundredth of a second. The times are the fastest runs here in two years.
Though several cowgirls on Tuesday ran fast enough to come back into the progressive go round, none were able to work their way into the top ten spots and earn a first go round check.
Hillman held on and pocketed $5,100 for her first trip through Will Rogers Coliseum for the first round win.
Two hundred ten cowgirls were entered and competed in the first round but now that field has been pared down to the fastest 70 (71 with the tie) —that is, those gals who ran a 17.13 or faster in go round one. The progressive round—round two of competition—begins on Wednesday.
Contestants were able to give preferences for their second round so the draw will be random and competition will be fierce as the final 71 look to earn one of just 12 spots in the Championship Finals here on Saturday night. Once there, they will compete for a share of the $85,000 purse as well as the $5,000 bonus for the Jerry Ann Taylor Best Dressed Award.
Only one thing is certain: there will be a new champion here in 2017 as no former champs have made the second round. Kelly Maben is the only cowgirl to repeat as champion in Fort Worth since the FWSSR began hosting a WPRA sanctioned barrel race.
1st Go Results
1. Stevi Hillman, Cuatro Fame, 16.48, $5,100
2. Cayla Small, Shameon U, 16.49, $4,372
3. Jana Bean, Dashing Klee, 16.58, $3,643
4. Amberleigh Moore, CP Dark Moon, 16.62, $3,157
5. Fallon Taylor, Flos Heiress, 16.64, $2,429
6. Sidney Forrest, So Epic, 16.65, $1,943
7. Sydni Blanchard, Famous Heartbreaker, 16.70, $1,457
8. Tammy Fischer, LK Sheza Hayday, 16.72, $971
9. tie Michele McLeod, Apt to Be Special, 16.75, $607
10. tie Meghan Johnson, Flyin Frenchman, 16.75, $607
|GBR Fort Worth Progressive|
|22 Perf Mat||Competition Order|
|23 Perf Night|
|24 Perf Mat|
|25 Perf Night|
|26 Perf Mat|
|Amy Jo Farella||9|
|27 Perf Night|
|28 Perf Mat|
Courtesy of WPRA