Photo Credit PRCA ProRodeo/Mike Copeman
Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Barrel Racing Gets Underway in Fast Fashion
Mary Walker and the sensational Perculatin (“Latte”) continue their hot streak—this time steaming up Las Vegas, Nev. In her first-ever Wrangler National Finals Rodeo appearance, the Ennis, Texas cowgirl beat out the elite 15 horse and riders teams of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association on the famed Thomas & Mack Center Arena dirt to capture her first NFR go round win. Walker and her 2004 bay gelding by Dash For Perks out of Curiosity Corners, by Silver Lucky Buck, posted a rapid 13.75 to get their NFR tapped off in winning style.
“You just can’t imagine how amazing it is even to go win a major rodeo, but you never really think about going out and winning a round at the NFR, especially near the bottom of the ground. It’s just unbelievable. It’s a dream come true. I could hear them in the alley hollering at me to get ready to get on the victory lap horse after I ran, and I said, ‘not ‘til Brittany (Pozzi) runs!’”
As sometimes happens, Walker was surprised by the speed with which Latte crossed the eye, particularly after rimming the second barrel and blowing slightly off the third.
“Latte is just so smooth and long-strided, you hear your time and you’re just amazed,” said Walker, who intends to get Latte out and keep him relaxed and ready to fire again tomorrow evening for round two.
Making the win particularly special for Walker is that just one year ago she was still rehabilitating a severely broken leg sustained during a fall at a rodeo, and reeling from the loss of her son Reagon, who was killed on April 23, 2011 in an automobile accident. “I know Reagon is here with me,” said an emotional Walker.
As is characteristic of the competition each year at the Wrangler NFR, first round times were tight, an indication of the poise of veteran riders and the skill of the newcomers among the field. Veteran Brittany Pozzi, Victoria, Texas, and her palomino speedster Yeah Im Firen (“Duke”) finished third with a time of 13.86, while Hooper, Utah’s Kelli Tolbert and RF Firefly (“Cleo”) were second with a 13.77. NFR rookie and 2011 WPRA Rookie of the Year, Lee Ann Rust, and SS Streakers R Us (“Harley”) rounded out the top four with a time of 13.99.
Walker entered the Wrangler NFR ranked third in the WPRA World standings but tonight’s win worth $18,257 bumped her to second with $145,549. Pozzi holds down the No. 1 spot with $181,856, while Lindsay Sears is second with $136,321 in 2012 regular season earnings, yet failed to add to her season earnings this evening after a costly hit barrel took her out of contention.
Barrel Racing Results – 1st Go Round:
- Mary Walker 13.75 $18,257.21
- Kelli Tolbert 13.77 $14,429.09
- Brittany Pozzi 13.86 $10,895.43
- Lee Ann Rust 13.99 $7,656.25
- Christy Loflin 14.03 $4,711.54
- Sherry Cervi 14.04 $2,994.71
WPRA World Championship Standings:
(Through 1st Go Round)
1. Brittany Pozzi Victoria, Texas $181,856
2. Mary Walker (G) Ennis, Texas $145,549
3. Lindsay Sears Nanton, Alberta $136,321
4. Carlee Pierce Stephenville, Texas $124,520
5. Sherry Cervi Marana, Arizona $96,006
6. Nikki Steffes Vale, South Dakota $86,722
7. Kaley Bass Kissimmee, Florida $86,282
8. Brenda Mays Terrebonne, Oregon $81,799
9. Kelli Tolbert Hooper, Utah $78,110
10. Lisa Lockhart Oelrichs, South Dakota $72,461
11. Lee Ann Rust Stephenville, Texas $69,243
12. Benette Barrintgton-Little Ardmore, Oklahoma $68,394
13. Christina Richman Glendora, California $60,872
14. Trula Churchill Valentine, Nebraska $60,777
15. Christy Loflin Franktown, Colorado $59,563