riding Cartels Fame. Photo by PixelWorx.
Northwest has the Big Four rodeo series-Lewiston, Idaho,
Kennewick and Walla Walla, Wash., and Pendleton, Ore., but
for barrel racers, there is now the Big Three. That's the
name producers and barrel racers have given to the three
weekends of barrel racing at the South Buckeye Equestrian
Center (SBEC) in Buckeye, Ariz., during the first three
weeks of January.
Just like the Big Four, competitors
are chasing big prize money and beautiful awards throughout
the duration of the Big Three. In 2013 events kicked off
with the Classic Equine Futurity, Derby and 5D held January
The 14th Annual Greg Olson Memorial
Futurity, Derby and 4D, held January 10-13, 2013, follows.
Both are produced by the Barrel Racers National 4D (BRN4D)
and feature $10,000 added futurities, $1,500 added derbies
and $11,000 added open divisional races. The PacWest wraps
things up with the 3Drum Classic, January 17-20, which features
Pro Elite Sire Incentive (PESI) bonus money.
Because all three events are WPRA co-approved
for divisional circuit points as well as futurity, derby
and junior points, a large contingent of WPRA members from
across the country descend on the small community of Buckeye,
just west of Phoenix, to compete.
Many racers venture south for the typically
warm temperatures of the Valley of the Sun but in 2013 Mother
Nature had other plans with sub-freezing temperatures during
the evening. The cold outside did nothing to cool the hot
times being posted on Buckeye's notoriously fast WPRA standard
Dominating the Greg Olson Futurity was
former Wrangler NFR qualifier Jackie (Dube) Jatzlau and
Good to Be the King. The "Wild Child" of barrel
racing, Jatzlau is now a mom and runs J2 Barrel Horses with
her husband, Lane.
A four year old gelding, Good to Be
the King is an embryo out of Jatzlau's tough palomino mare,
Imanonstop Princess, and by Jud Little's stallion Bugemforcash,
a son of the great Cash not Credit, a PESI enrolled stallion.
In his first competitive outing, Good to Be the King won
over $37,000 at the Barrel Futurities of America (BFA) World
Championships in Oklahoma City back in December. Jatzlau
gave the gelding some time off until coming to Arizona for
the Greg Olson and 3Drum Classic.
Saying he rides just like his mother,
Jatzlau and Good to Be the King dominated the two hundred
plus entry futurity, winning both rounds en route to the
title. She clocked in at 16.833 in round one and 16.929
in round two to win $11,790. She added $20,000 for winning
the slot race as her 16.833 held up as the fast time of
Thanks to the carry-over option for
futurity horses, Jatzlau won the Open 5D on Saturday as
well for an additional $1,565, bringing her total haul aboard
the four year old superstar to $33,355.
Meanwhile, perennial WPRA futurity/derby
star Sharin Hall collected another win with her derby horse,
Cartels Fame. Cartels Fame is by PESI stallion, the legendary
Dash ta Fame, and out of a Corona Cartel mare. WNFR qualifier
Angie Meadors trained the gelding for owners Crystal Thompson
and her daughter, Christian Chaney. Hall has been riding
the five year old since September.
Running last in the draw of 47 horses,
Gambler stopped the clock at 17.045 for the win. Hall earned
$1,526 in the derby and added another $543 in the open 4D,
eventually finishing sixth in the open average.
"I am very honored to win the Greg Olson Derby,"
said Hall. "I am blessed to ride such a nice horse."
Taking home the biggest win in the open
was Tucson cowgirl Cheryl Murray. Riding a daughter of PESI
stallion, and WNFR qualifier, Blazin Jetolena, Murray and
Blazin Ruby Rocket earned about $4,500 en route to winning
the 1D average.
"I was ecstatic," gushed Murray,
noting that this was her first "big 1D win ever."
"It was a neat deal for me; there were people there
from all over. I held my own with them so I am really happy."
Murray and the seven-year old Ruby started
the weekend with a second place finish in the derby with
their time of 17.150 for $1,174.
Once the weekend rolled around, Murray
and Ruby were the picture of consistency, taking third both
days after facing down over 400 runners on Saturday and
nearly as many on Sunday.
"She loves Buckeye," said
Murray, who is known to post sub-seventeen times often at
the SBEC's covered arena. "I probably should do a better
job of tracking her career earnings there."
On Saturday, Murray was one of three
barrel racers to earn that elusive 16 second run, clocking
in at 16.992 for $1,174.19. During the Sunday race, she
posted a 17.153 to earn $933.93.
"It's tiring," she laughed,
saying she and her husband, Dan, work during the week in
between the races and then head out early to Buckeye. Dan
is a small animal veterinarian with his own practice. "It
starts to wear on you. I ran early Sunday and the suspense,
waiting all day to see if we would win the average. There
was one runner at about 370 who could move us."
"We went to lunch and came back
and waited. It starts to be a long day," she laughs.
Murray added another $630 to her bank
account for winning the Future Fortunes side pot on Saturday.
The cowgirl will run in the open slot
race at Buckeye during the PacWest event and for the PESI
money in both the derby and open at the 3Drum Classic. She
also plans to rodeo a little more this season.
"We went a little last year. We
placed in a round at Prescott but we have some work to do,"
said Murray, noting that Ruby is still rodeo green. "It's
my goal for this year to get her more seasoned. I have faith
she will figure it out."