The 65th Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Teton Ridge kicked off late last week in Las Vegas. The competitors have completed Round 4. Here’s the barrel racing recap up to this point.
The 65th Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Teton Ridge was scheduled to begin on Thursday, December 7th. Unfortunately, a deadly shooting occurred the day before on the University of Las Vegas campus where the rodeo is held. In solidarity with the victims and their families and out of an abundance of caution, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association decided to postpone the start of the rodeo. To make up for the missed round, there will be an additional round on Wednesday, December 13th with no public access.
Although it was delayed by 24 hours, Round 1 of the 2023 WNFR did not disappoint. Sissy Winn won the barrel racing with a 13.71-second run aboard A R Dash Ta Flame, fondly known as “Scoop.” This is Sissy’s second WNFR qualification and her first round win. While the ground was a bit shifty, Scoop made a picture-perfect run. Sissy certainly made a statement in Vegas-themed Ranch Dress’n outfit — she is there to win! Sissy purchased Scoop in 2022 from Danyelle Campbell, a leading futurity trainer and former WNFR qualifier. Danyelle has offered Sissy advice this week on how to keep the 10-year-old son of Dash Ta Fame working and feeling his best. Sissy says that she is grateful to Scoop for the vital role he has played in her career and we can’t wait to see what this duo continues to accomplish.
On Saturday night, Stevi Hillman ran away with Round 2 with a 13.62-second run aboard Sand in my Socks, aka “Sandi.” Stevi was on the bubble for this year’s WNFR until she and Sandi won the Pendleton Round-Up in September. To go from Pendleton, the largest barrel pattern in professional rodeo, to the Thomas & Mack, which is one of the smallest patterns, this team proved its versatility. Sandi has a gritty, all-or-nothing style, which cost them a barrel in Round 1, but they were redeemed with this run. This is Stevi’s eighth WNFR and her second year calling on Sandi. They are going to get better and better as the week goes on!
Lisa Lockhart lowered the fastest time of the rodeo in Round 3. The veteran cowgirl took every advantage of being first out on the ground. She jockeyed her gray gelding Promise Me Fame Guys, aka “Levee,” around all three barrels in just 13.51 seconds. This is Lisa’s seventeenth WNFR qualification and her second year running Levee. The seven-year-old son of Aint Seen Nothin Yet was her main mount for the season. The pair placed third in Round 2 as well. Despite many trips to the finals, Lisa has never won a World Championship. She has her eyes on the prize this week and has already advanced from fifth to second in the standings!
After knocking barrels in Rounds 2 and 3, Sissy Win and Scoop ran a 13.50 to take the win in Round 4! Monday night also marked a major milestone for the #1 ranked barrel racer in the world standings, Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi. In seventeen trips the the WNFR, Brittany has now earned over $1 million at the finals! She arrived in Vegas with $270,563 in season earnings, which was $110,000 ahead of Jordan Briggs in second. After the fourth round, she has accumulated $77,851 in NFR earnings which bumped her total earnings to $348,414 this season. Brittany is hot on the heels of Hailey Kinsel’s previous season record from 2018. If she doesn’t knock a barrel tonight, she will probably clinch the honor of most money won in a single season. As of right now, no one is coming close to taking away Brittany’s third world title.
Stay tuned for our next recap after round 5. Until then, here are the current standings: