By Jolee Jordan
Cheyenne, Wyoming—Sharpie is the nickname given to the barrel horse prodigy spotted in recent months under the saddle of WPRA barrel racer Stevi Hillman, no doubt a play on his registered name MCM Imasharpguy.
It’s also what Hillman will need to keep close at hand as long as she’s riding the pretty grey gelding, a great tool for signing the many autographs that come with winning.
Still just five years old, Sharpie came to Hillman early in 2017, a project to season to the rodeo trail and give Hillman another back-up for her superstar Cuatro Fame (or Truck as he’s known around the barn). Bred from barrel racing royalty, Sharpie is by the Frenchmans Guy son A Sharp Frenchman and out of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) go round winning mare, Mulberry Canyon Moon.
Stevi Hillman, Rd. 1
Photo by Jackie Jensen
His first rodeo was in February and by the end of that month, he had not only won his first pro rodeo but he had won a major in the form of La Fiesta de los Vaqueros in Tucson, Ariz. With Hillman aptly handling the jockeying, the pair has turned in some of the most eye-popping runs of the summer, including a win at Spanish Fork Fiesta Days last week—one of the toughest and fastest rodeos of the year.
But even before that win, Hillman and Sharpie began their campaign for a title at Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days. Nicknamed “the Daddy of ‘Em All,” Cheyenne offers a huge purse in the late summer push for rodeo competitors and as such, is a huge stop along the trail to the WNFR and potential WPRA and PRCA World Championships.
Already ranked second in the WPRA World standings after a good showing through the Fourth of July—much of that aboard Sharpie—and a third place in the Showdown at Calgary with Truck, Hillman arrived in the Wyoming capital for the beginning of the iconic rodeo just hours after her last run in Calgary.
While most of the Calgary competitors rushed through the nearly 1,000 mile journey from Calgary on Sunday afternoon, July 16 to the opening round in Cheyenne on Monday morning, Hillman was able to jump an airplane with Sharpie waiting to make his mark inside the huge Frontier Park Arena.
Cheyenne Frontier Days has a committee added purse of $50,000 and unlike many of the rodeos of similar purse size, takes unlimited entries in the WPRA barrel race. Over 200 cowgirls came to Cheyenne for the opening go round, hoping for a piece of the $6,000+ go rounds. After the opening round, the fastest 96 earn a spot into the eight performances.
Running about halfway through the long first round, Hillman and Sharpie lit up the scoreboard with a run of 17.48 seconds, ahead of the rest of the field by some distance. After all runs were totaled, they had bested Cassidy Kruse’s second place run by almost two tenths and earned $6,573.
“Sharpie and I won the 1st go at Cheyenne!” Hillman posted to her Facebook. “I've always wanted to do good at this rodeo, so very thankful for him. He's just amazing….”
Turns out that the super quick footed gelding wasn’t done with the Daddy but he did make a trip to Utah for rodeos in Ogden, Salt Lake and Spanish Fork. He placed at all three and tipped a barrel to earn the first regular season gold medal at the Komatsu Days of '47 Cowboy Games and Rodeo in Salt Lake.
“In the last 5 rodeos, MCM Imasharpguy has earned $21,879 ... with his last win this week at Spanish Fork and 2nd at Ogden .. has helped move his amazing jockey to 2nd in the world standings,” wrote Sharpie’s owner Bendi Dunn on Facebook. “He hit a barrel at the Days of '47 rodeo to win it too .. We never imagined as a 5-year old he would have this kind of success. The plan was to season him a little in 2017 and see how he could handle it. What a summer !! Can't wait to get to Cheyenne and watch them this weekend.”
Returning for the final performance before the short round, Sharpie continued to display a maturity that belies his age and experience. Running in a typical Cheyenne wind and rain storm—and with the huge Frontier Days’ crowd hollering—Hillman and Sharpie trekked through the pattern in a safe 17.63 which earned them eighth in the go round and a one one-hundredth of a second lead in the average as the field was narrowed to the top 12 in the two-head average.
Drawing third in the final round—and with a muddy track to boot—Hillman rode the streakin grey phenom through the pattern in the fastest time of the 2017 edition of the Daddy, a 17.33 second effort that put her far into the lead for the championship. As the announcer commented "she moved to the top of the leaderboard with authority."
Though several good runs followed, none were able to touch her time, giving her three first place finishes in four payouts here. Her three-run average of 52.44 was .44 seconds ahead of the gutsy performance of Wyoming cowgirl Cassidy Kruse, who recently lost her father Ray to cancer.
Hillman walked away from Cheyenne $22,554 richer, the biggest winner of this year’s rodeo. Her season total is now more than $150,000 and she is assured of being in Vegas for her second WNFR this December.
“I am truly speechless.... and extremely thankful right now,” she posted to her Facebook after the big win, which comes with a buckle and a saddle. “Sharpie and I just won the Daddy of 'Em All, Cheyenne Frontier Days! What a dream come true, this horse just amazes me. God is so good!”
She took time to thank Sharpie’s owners, who were able to come watch their young superstar in person.
“Thank you Matt Dunn and Bendi Dunn, I am SO glad you guys were here.”
“What a day.... what a Rodeo to win, thank you Sharpie.”
Kruse earned more than $19,000 in her Reserve title run. Brittany Pozzi-Tonozzi finished third in the average, gathering a much needed $12,608 for her season total as she chases an 11th WNFR qualification.
For more information on Cheyenne Frontier Days, visit them on-line at www.cfdrodeo.com
- Stevi Hillman, MCM Imasharpguy, 17.48 seconds, $6,573
- Cassidy Kruse, Guys Dashing Girl, 17.60, $5,634
- Jackie Ganter, Cartels Fame, 17.62, $4,695
- Jane Melby, Perks Pazazz, 17.67, $4,069
- Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, 17.73, $3,130
- Jana Bean, Dashing Klee, 17.77, $2,504
- Sidney Forrest, So Epic, 17.85, $1,878
- Alexa Lake, Sure Down Dash, 17.86, $1,252
- Ericka Nelson, Goodfrenchmanfriday, 17.90, $939
- Kaylee Burnett, 17.91, $626
1/2. (tie) Taci Bettis (Bogie is a Smash) and Carla Beckett, 17.44 seconds, $6,104 each
3. Michelle Darling, Morning Traffic, 17.48, $4,695
4. Kruse, 17.52, $4,069
5. Elaine Hollings, 17.56, $3,130
6. Bean, 17.59, $2,504
7. Jordan Bassett, Mimis on Firewater, 17.62, $1,878
8. Hillman, 17.63, $1,252
9. Katelyn Scott, Shiney Gold Bid, 17.64, $939
10. Hallie Hanssen, Tres Movidas, 17.68, $626
- Hillman, 17.33 seconds, $4,869
- Kim Schulze, Vegaspeed, 17.64, $3,652
- Pozzi Tonozzi, 17.68, $2,435
- Kruse, 17.76, $1,217
- Hillman, 52.44 seconds on three head, $9,860
- Kruse, 52.88, $8,452
- Pozzi Tonozzi, 53.13, $7,043
- Schulze, 53.32, $6,104
- Darling, 53.37, $4,695
- Melby, 53.50, $3,756
- Ganter, 53.54, $2,817
- Scott, 53.64, $1,878
- Hollings, 53.65, $1,409
- Bettis, 53.66, $939
Pozzi Tonozzi, $12,608