By Jolee Jordan
San Antonio, Texas — Coming into the second night of the first semifinals of the 2017 edition of the San Antonio Stock Show Rodeo, Amberleigh Moore hadn’t shared much — actually, the reigning WPRA Reserve World Champ hadn’t shared at all, winning every round in which she had competed to that point.
One of the biggest stops in professional rodeo, the SASSR is a tournament style rodeo with competitors divided into brackets. Upon completion of the five preliminary brackets, those competitors who have won enough money moved on to compete in one of two, two go round semifinals. At the conclusion of each semifinal, each competitor’s total money won from the five rounds is calculated to determine five finalist who will compete for the biggest money on Saturday night, February 25th and all the prizes that go along with being named the champion.
Moore had won four straight rounds coming into the second round of the first semifinals, three in her bracket to advance to this point as well as the first round of the semis on Tuesday night.
That victory was probably the most impressive of all, a win by nearly three tenths of a second as the Oregon cowgirl was the only competitor on Tuesday to break fourteen seconds on her run. She posted a 13.86.
With her final run before the finals on Wednesday night, Moore remained perfect… but she did have to share.
Once again aboard the phenomenal Paige, who is registered CP Dark Moon, Moore stopped the clock at 14.05 seconds to earn a fifth trip around AT&T Center as the night’s winner.
But she was joined in that ride by Arizona cowgirl Nicole Riggle. Riding her horse Shoe, Riggle posted an identical time of 14.05 to share the win and earn $3,743.
Moore had virtually assured her spot in Saturday’s final whether she had won a nickel in the semis but Riggle’s performance was big. Along with placing fourth in the first round of the semis, the share of the round win was enough to ensure her first trip to the finals as well.
Another huge semifinals performance came out of Florida cowgirl Sabra O’Quinn. She and her gelding, Nosey, were clutch, winning a second and a third—worth $5,347—to rise from sixth in the money won all the way to third.
Moore nearly maxed the possible earnings with $14,863 already in her Wranglers while Riggle has earned $8,234 to land second. O’Quinn finishes third with $8,198. Colorado cowgirl Sammi Bessert picked up one semifinal check and finished with $6,416, good enough for fourth. She won third in San Antonio a year ago and has a chance to better that on Saturday night.
Nellie Miller held onto the fifth and final qualifying spot despite not adding to her total in the two night semifinals. She held off a charge from WNFR cowgirl Stevi Hillman, who picked up fourth on Wednesday night but fell short by just $72, and won out on a tie breaker with Jana Bean by having the fastest semifinal time.
There are just five spots left in Saturday’s finals and ten cowgirls will race for it beginning Thursday night in the second semifinals. Leading the way is Texas cowgirl Taylor Langdon, the only other competitor to be perfect in her bracket, winning all three rounds. She’ll battle last year’s runner-up here, Ivy Conrado, as well as two-time SASSR champion Sherry Cervi, the only former champ left in the field.
The stacked deck also includes current WPRA leader Tiany Schuster along with World number three Kathy Grimes, WNFR cowgirl Cassidy Kruse, who was in the finals here last year, WNFR qualifiers Pam Capper and Benette Little, Badlands Circuit champion Cally Thomas and National Western Stock Show champ Kellie Collier.
Semi Finals 1
1. Amberleigh Moore, CP Dark Moon, 13.86, $4,277
2. Sabra O’Quinn, Bring It On Guys, 14.16, $3,208
3. Sammi Bessert, Terrible Tommy Twist, 14.19, $2,139
4. Nicole Riggle, Shoeless Joe Biankus, 14.22, $1,069
1. tie Moore, 14.05, $3,743
2. tie Riggle, 14.05, $3,743
3. O’Quinn, 14.06, $2,139
4. Stevi Hillman, Cuatro Fame, 14.13, $1,069
Total Money Won
*Moore, $14,863 (B3)
*Riggle, $8,233 (B2)
*O’Quinn, $8,198 (B5)
*Bessert, $6,416 (B5)
*Nellie Miller, $3,422
Jana Bean, $3,422 (B3)
Britta Thiel, $2,851
Katie Pascoe, $2,566
Sydni Blanchard, $1,711
*Advances to Final Round
Courtesy of WPRA