By Jolee Jordan
San Antonio, Texas — Taylor Langdon has big dreams of making a trip to Las Vegas in December for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) and it’s looking like it may be a horse named Vegas who can help her get it done.
Langdon has been close to realizing her WNFR dreams; she won nearly $69,000 in 2016, more than enough to make the cut for the WNFR in most seasons but only enough for 17th in the WPRA World standings in an incredibly salty year.
The Aubrey, Texas cowgirl spent a good portion of 2016 aboard a rookie rodeo horse named Vegas Firefighter. Vegas is by the Fire Water Flit son Ima Firefighter and out of Vegas Heat, a daughter of Dashin Is Easy.
Vegas was a Christmas present to Langdon as a weanling and Langdon sent the mare to Joy Wargo to train and futurity as Langdon was on the pro rodeo road chasing an WNFR berth. 2016 was to be a seasoning year for the talented buckskin mare but she came on stronger than expected and brought her rider within a breathe of her WNFR goal. Though they missed the Vegas trip, the pair rolled through the AQHA World Show in Oklahoma City in November, claiming the World title in the Senior Barrels.
With the beginning of 2017, Langdon has attacked the year with confidence in her now just seven year old partner. The pair won the reserve average title at the Ram Texas Circuit Finals Rodeo in Waco to ring in the new year and picked up checks at Odessa, Denver and McAlester, Okla.
Rolling into the 2017 edition of the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, Langdon sat at 30th in the WPRA World standings but that position was about to change dramatically.
San Antonio is one of the most lucrative events on the WPRA schedule with a purse of $1.7 million— $164,500 per event—and is limited to just 50 cowgirls. Positions are determined by both previous and current WPRA World standings as well as the 2016 WPRA Tour standings.
The 50 competitors are divided into five brackets for the tournament style rodeo. Each bracket has three rounds and there are no averages paid. The top four money earners from each bracket advance to the semi-finals. The semi-finals consists of two more runs for each competitor with money won again determining advancement. The top five from each semi-finals will move on to the finals where the San Antonio Champion will be determined following the final round.
Money won is key to taking the title here and Langdon did all she could do while competing in the first bracket beginning Thursday, February 9th.
In fact, Langdon maxed out her earnings potential by winning all three rounds of Bracket 1. She took round one with a 13.85, round two on Friday night with 13.94 and completed the sweep on Saturday afternoon with a 13.74, just six one-hundredths off the arena record inside AT&T Center.
“Vegas was incredible, I couldn’t have asked her to be any better,” Langdon said. “I’m so proud of her.”
“She had so much confidence in that arena,” Langdon noted. With earnings at the max of $6,843, Langdon is set up well as her competition will continue in the semi-finals which begin February 21. She will compete in San Angelo and Tucson (with a different horse) before returning to the Alamo City.
Langdon’s earnings from Bracket 1 nearly doubled her season earnings to date with much more potential earnings waiting in the next rounds including a huge $14,476 payoff to the winner of the Finals.
Her excitement was palpable after the final run as she posted to Facebook.
“Vegas WINS round 3! I cannot stand it. I am so excited, I am so proud of my little mare who has so much heart!”
Mountain States Circuit Champ Kim Schulze was second in the bracket aboard her outstanding young horse Holy Moly, winning $2,851 after placing in two of three rounds while Stevi Hillman and Kellie Collier rounded out the semi-finalists from Bracket 1. Collier actually tied arena record holder Sydni Blanchard in money won but advanced based on the tie breaker, the single fastest run.
Bracket 2 began Saturday night with a familiar site to San Antonio fans taking the victory lap. Ivy Conrado and her speedy little mare Tibbie ran the best of the night at 14.06 to take the round one win.
A year ago, Conrado made her first trip to San Antonio and walked away more than $20,000 richer. She is hoping to duplicate that success.
“I’m glad she’s feeling like herself again,” Conrado noted of the eight year old mare. “She loved this pen last year, so I’m glad she likes it again this year!”
Conrado stayed consistent, running the same time in round two to finish second behind Cassidy Kruse and Scooter, who took the victory lap with a rapid 13.79 second run.
In the final night of Bracket 2 on Monday, Conrado was second again with 14.00 seconds flat, just one tick behind the night’s winner, Nicole Riggle and her gelding Shoe.
Conrado’s bracket earnings ran up to $5,703, good enough to easily move on to the semi-finals. Tibbie will compete in the semi-finals for The American, a non-WPRA sanctioned event happening this week in Fort Worth, and Conrado will head West to Tucson with another horse before returning to San Antonio.
With the third round win and a third place finish in round two, Riggle took second in the money won category to continue her San Antonio experience. She won $3,422. Rounding out the Bracket 2 semi-finalists are round winner Kruse and California cowgirl Katie Pascoe.
Bracket 3 begins on Tuesday night, Valentine’s Day. The competitors include the top two cowgirls from the 2016 WPRA World standings, Mary Burger and Amberleigh Moore as well as 2012 WPRA World Champion Mary Walker and WNFR qualifiers Pam Capper, Jana Bean, Sarah Rose McDonald and Carley Richardson.
For more information on the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, visit them on-line at www.sarodeo.com.
1. Taylor Langdon, Vegas Firefighter, 13.85, $ 2,281
2. Sydni Blanchard, Famous Heartbreaker, 14.17, $1,711
3. Kim Schulze, Holy Moly Im Famous, 14.20, $1,141
4. Kellie Collier, Streakin Easy April, 14.25, $570
1. Langdon, 13.94, $2,281
2. Stevi Hillman, Cuatro Fame, 14.02, $1,711
3. Collier, 14.16, $1,141
4. Kelley Schnaufer, Jess Undeniable, $570
1. Langdon, 13.74, $2,281
2. Schulze, 13.96, $1,711
3. Cayla Small, Shameon U, 14.01, $1,141
4. Hillman, 14.06, $570
Total Money Won
*Advance to Semi-Finals (Collier advances on tie breaker)
1. Ivy Conrado, CFour Tibbie Stinson, 14.06, $2,281
2. Katie Pascoe, JR Naughty Jet, 14.13, $1,711
3. Tillar Murray, Lil Gracies Dude, 14.17, $1,141
4. Carmel Wright, Fortunes Last Xtrem, $570
1. Cassidy Kruse, Dash to Tim, 13.79, $2,281
2. Conrado, 14.06, $1,711
3. Nicole Riggle, Shoeless Joe Biankus, 14.09, $1,141
4. Jessie Telford, Famous Cool Whip, 14.17, $570
1. Riggle, 13.99, $2,281
2. Conrado, 14.00, $1,711
3. tie Kruse, 14.09, $855
4. tie Pascoe, 14.09, $855
Total Money Won
Courtesy of WPRA