By Jolee Jordan
Calgary, Alberta — It’s a fairly amazing hourly rate if you figure out that the difference in pay between the first and second place winners in the WPRA barrel racing at the 2019 Calgary Stampede equaled $25,000 per one one-thousandth of a second. That’s .001 on the clock.
The incredible finish was only fitting of what has truly been an awesome edition of the World’s Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
The Calgary Stampede is a tournament style rodeo, there are no averages kept nor paid and no times carry forward from one round to the next. The first eight days are reserved for pool competition and eight cowgirls—four from each pool—advanced directly to the final rounds on Sunday.
The rest of the field got one more, last ditch chance in the Wild Card where the top two fill out the field of Semi-Finalists for the opening round on Showdown Sunday.
Wild Card Saturday
The Wild Card Round is always exciting, fueled by the desperation of the competitors to use this one last chance to get to Showdown Sunday. It’s not unusual for several cowgirls to post their best runs of the week— two-time WPRA World Champion Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi did just that when she set the mark to beat midway through the field with a 17.54 on her mare Katniss despite a pretty big slip around barrel number two.
With the World Champion on top, Callahan Crossley Tryan came to the plate, riding a borrowed mount for the biggest run of her 2019 Stampede. Ducky is fellow competitor Amber Moore’s back-up horse and the Northwest cowgirls teamed up for quite a day on Saturday. Crossley Tryan took the lead with her smoking run of 17.37 seconds with Ducky simply flying.
That left Pozzi Tonozzi on the bubble with only Moore to compete as the final cowgirl in the field of 12 to run. Moore made a valiant effort and did enough to advance, stopping the clock at 17.50 seconds to bump Pozzi Tonozzi from the finals.
Though she and mare Paige did not best their stablemate, it was still a happy day as both horses advanced their jockeys to compete for $100,000 on the final day of the 2019 Calgary Stampede.
“I am one proud Mom!” Moore posted to Facebook of what was one of the Stampede’s coolest moments of competitor camaraderie. “Paige and Ducky advance to Showdown Sunday.”
The last two editions to the final field have a big opportunity on Sunday as the two lowest ranked competitors within the current WPRA World standings. Moore came to Canada ranked 16th (the money won already will move her solidly inside the top 15) while Crossley Tryan is ranked 28th, just about $16,000 from the benchmark 15th position and she’s already picked up more than half of that.
After nine days of intense rodeo action, the field of 20 original competitors had been cut in half for the final sprint to the championships on Sunday, July 14, 2019.
Showdown Sunday is comprised of the Semi-Final round of ten ladies. The four fastest from the Semi-Final round advance to the Showdown which starts again following a brief intermission.
With the slate wiped clean one last time, the final four race for the winner’s prize of $100,000.
The Showdown Round in 2019 was chocked full of exceptional talent. The field included the last two WPRA World Champions in Nellie Miller and Hailey Kinsel and the reigning Canadian champion, Callahan Crossley Tryan. Lisa Lockhart is the No. 2 ranked lady on the WPRA’s all time career earnings list—she and Kinsel are past champions in Calgary and Lockhart has made it to Sunday every year going back to 2012.
There are seven ladies with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) on their resumes and every one of them is already within the top 30 of the current WPRA World standings. Two of last year’s final four are back (Routier and Kinsel) and two from the previous year as well (Nellie Miller and Emily Miller).
As the round got underway, the pressure was high and the cowgirls delivered another fantastic round of barrel racing in the Semi-Finals.
Prior to Sunday, Kinsel and her mare Sister had made ten runs in Calgary in her career, winning first eight times and second twice.
She upped that number to nine firsts in eleven runs after wrapping up a super tight Semi-Final round with a run of 17.24 seconds.
Lockhart, aboard Rosa for the second time during this Stampede, was right on her heels with a 17.25 second run. Nellie Miller and her own super Sister were third at 17.27 seconds while Emily Miller made her second trip to the Showdown Round in as many qualifications to Calgary with a run of 17.37 seconds.
In the crying hole for the round were Ivy Conrado and her brilliant mare JLo, who missed the cut for the final round by a heartbreaking one one-hundredth of a second but still finished with more than $20,000 in Calgary earnings for the second straight year.
It would not be the slimmest margin of victory on the day.
Action resumed a short time later and after facing a dry track since the opening day of the Stampede back on July 5, a steady rain began to fall as the champion saddle bronc rider, Rusty Wright, was being recognized on the stage and the course was set once again for the barrel race.
The weather in Calgary during Stampede is a crucial element in the story, inserting itself—it seems—in the most critical of moments. The $100,000 winner has plowed through the mud and pouring rain more than a few times in the past few years, a testament that the champions here are not just great jockeys with great horses but that they are also mentally tougher than nails.
Emily Miller led off the pack in the final round as the fourth to qualify from the Semi-Finals. Displaying her incredible athleticism in the saddle, she placed a hand in the middle of the first barrel as Chongo turned it, steadying the can to prevent a five second penalty.
Chongo raced through the remainder of the course to set a high bar at 17.194 seconds, Miller’s best of the 2019 rodeo.
Note the time to beat . . . 17.194 seconds. The only round during the entire WPRA rodeo season to be timed to the one one-thousandth of a second (WPRA rules specify times only to the hundredth), the move is to help avoid a tie for the title, which by Calgary rules would require a run-off for the championship. A run off is not unprecedented in the barrel race here—it happened back in 2006 when Joleen Seitz beat June Holeman on the third run of the day for the cowgirls.
Back to the current race and the always efficient Nellie Miler ran next. Already ranked number one in the WPRA World standings after competing in just 18 rodeos, Miller seems to win more in less runs than just about anyone. On Sunday, Miller and Sister skirted around the pattern in 17.402 seconds to sit second.
As the crowd turned their attention to Lockhart, she made her way down the long alley with Rosa, helped by a trio of buddies. Angela Lockwood—Lockhart’s sister, mother of Showdown Sunday bull rider, PBR World Champion Jess Lockwood, and future mother-in-law of Kinsel—rode Lockhart’s horse Cutter while leading Louie.
Both horses played critical roles in that moment. Lockhart rode Cutter back in March to her first RNCFR title, a win that secured her position into the Calgary Stampede in the first place. And the immortal Louie, who not only helped Lockhart qualify for that RNCFR but who also won money in two rounds of Pool B to help advance her to the final round.
Lockhart would need her best run of the rodeo to swipe the lead from Miller. As Rosa sprinted to the first corner—the left barrel first, she cut in a bit and Lockhart had to jockey some to avoid the penalty. Then, as if shot from a cannon, Rosa flew to the second turn, leaving Lockhart with the wrong hand on the reins as they made the right hand corner.
The third was flawless and so fast it left the crowd breathless. As she rolled back across the electric timers, Lockhart’s time of 17.116 was met with a huge roar of approval from the Calgary fans.
As Kinsel began her trek down the alley, fans knew either way that there would be a two-time Calgary champion headed for the stage in less than 30 seconds. Would it be Kinsel, who had not been outrun in the Stampede in 2019 and already had run four times under 17.10? Or would Lockhart win her second title in five years on a second horse?
Odds had to be on Kinsel with the new Calgary arena record of 16.93 under her belt from just days ago and the super fast Sister who had been rock solid all week. The duo looked tough as Sister managed the first can and rolled around number two. As she bore down on the final barrel and made a pretty turn, there was nothing left but the race home to determine the winner.
There was almost a stunned silence across Stampede Park as the clock flashed the time, 17.119 as everyone tried to process just who had come out on top.
Stampede officials quickly had a teary-eyed Lockhart headed to the stage, claiming a second major rodeo title this season aboard horses other than her million dollar Louie. The margin of victory has to be a WPRA record at just .003 seconds.
“Oh my gosh, you know it has been a horse race the whole entire Stampede. Records have been set and I’m just thrilled to be a part of what has transpired at the Stampede,” Lockhart told Amy Wilson just moments after hoisting the bronze and big check. “There’s so many people to thank that have been invested in what we do . . . the Calgary Stampede committee and the spectators, I mean, it’s the Greatest Show on Earth. Thank you!”
Wilson mentioned Louie’s role as ride-up horse during Showdown Sunday.
“It’s very bittersweet,” Lockhart admitted. “Louie has been my equine partner for so many years and we’ve won this on Louie.” In fact, but for a tipped barrel in the Showdown Round in 2016, Louie would have been only the second to repeat as Showdown Champ. But this title belonged to the scary fast Rosa, who won second behind Kinsel in the final round of Pool B to clinch a spot in Sunday’s final rounds.
“I just can’t say enough great things about Rosa. She stepped up when I needed her so much, so thank you Rosa.”
Lockhart got to relive the run for the crowd as a video was shown.
“You know, it’s gets tough when you have multiple runs and I know she likes to crowd me just a little bit. I did what every barrel racer should not do, going around the barrel in the wrong hand, I’m going to admit, I did it!” she joked with her usual humility.
“All I could think about was get around the third barrel. When you just got to keep them standing, sometimes horsemanship goes out the window but you just got to do what it takes.”
The difference in payout from first to second in the Showdown Round is $75,000 — making each one one-thousandths of a second worth $25,000 to the WPRA’s $2.5 million cowgirl.
Lockhart earned $107,500 for her six runs in Stampede Arena; of that total, $57,500 will count towards the WPRA World standings where she was already ranked fifth. The win pushes her career total at Calgary well above $330,000.
Kinsel won every round but the last one, earning an impressive $47,000 while in Calgary. Nellie Miller won $27,000. All three cowgirls will jump over $100,000 for the year as they hold down the top three spots in the WPRA World standings.
Emily Miller got herself very close to a first Wrangler NFR appearance. Her $23,750 in Calgary earnings moves her over $80,000 for the season.
Five of the 20 cowgirls competing here won more than $20,000 while six more earned more than $10,000.
For more information, visit www.calgarystampede.com.
1. Callahan Crossley Tryan, Blue Duck Down, 17.37, $6,000
2. Amberleigh Moore, CP Dark Moon, 17.50, $5,000
3. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Ima Famous Babe, 17.54, $4,000
4. Brittney Barnett, Chicks Keen PocoPoo, 17.64, $3,000
5. Sarah Rose Waguespack, Straight Toasted, 17.72, $2,000
6. Kylie Whiteside, 17.84, $1,000
7. Taci Bettis, 17.85
8. Kaylee Gallino, JC Truly Bob, 17.85
9. Carman Pozzobon, 18.20
10. Jimmie Smith, 22.55
11. Diane Skocdopole, 23.11
12. Shelby Spielman, Fame N Red Hot, 24.93
1. Hailey Kinsel, DM Sissy Hayday, 17.24
2. Lisa Lockhart, Rosas Cantina CC, 17.25*
3. Nellie Miller, Rafter W Minnie Reba, 17.27*
4. Emily Miller, Namgis D 33, 17.37*
5. Ivy Conrado, KN Fabs Gift of Fame, 17.38, $3,300
6. Callhan Crossley Tryan, Blue Duck Down, 17.45, $3,300
7. Jessica Routier, Fiery Miss West, 17.64, $3,300
8. Amberleigh Moore, CP Dark Moon, 17.78, $3,300
9. Jessie Telford, Famous Cool Whip, 18.08, $3,300
10. Jennifer Sharp, Six French Smooches, 22.43, $3,300
*Advance to Showdown Round
1. Lockhart, 17.116, $100,000 ($50,000 to WPRA World standings)
2. Kinsel, 17.119, $25,000
3. Emily Miller, 17.194, $15,000
4. Nellie Miller, 17.402, $10,000
Total Money Won — Showdown Sunday
Lisa Lockhart, Pool B, $107,500
Hailey Kinsel, Pool B, $47,000
Nellie Miller, Pool A, $27,000
Emily Miller, Pool B, $23,750
Ivy Conrado, Pool A, $20,800
Amber Moore, Pool B & Wild Card, $15,800
Jennifer Sharp, Pool B, $14,800
Callahan Crossley Tryan, Pool B & Wild Card, $11,800
Jessica Routier, Pool A, $11,300
Jessie Telford, Pool A, $11,300
Total Money Won — Other Competitors
Brittney Barnett, Pool A, $11,000
Jimmie Smith, Pool A, $7,000
Shelby Spielman, Pool B, $7,000
Sarah Rose Waguespack, Pool A, $6,500
Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Pool B, $4,000
Kaylee Gallino, Pool B, $2,500
Kylie Whiteside, Pool A, $1,000
Taci Bettis, Pool B, $750
Courtesy of WPRA