By Jolee Lautaret-Jordan
San Antonio, Texas — It's still early in the 2015 pro rodeo season but it's shaping up to be the Year of the Lefties.
Blame it on reigning WPRA World Champion Fallon Taylor. Riding Flos Heiress, aka Babyflo, the Texas cowgirl became just the third leftie—barrel racer running to the left barrel first instead of the right—to win the WPRA's World title.
Since then, lefties have won first at major rodeos all winter and the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is shaping up to be another one.
The only big question is which leftie will it be?
Two of the top contenders competed during the first semi-finals in the Alamo City held Tuesday and Wednesday nights, February 24-25 and, not surprisingly, they came out on top after two rounds of competition.
Both Jana Bean and Taylor competed at the 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo back in December and both are among the leaders in the WPRA World standings already in 2015. Taylor is ranked third with over $17,000 won this season while Bean is ranked 11th.
While Taylor is still riding her Wrangler NFR, Gold buckle-winning mount, Bean is on a different horse than the one which carried her at the Thomas & Mack in Las Vegas. Dashing Klee, aka Chick, is just five years old but is performing like a veteran on the biggest stages this winter. Bean qualified to the semi-finals from bracket four after earning $3,422.
In the semi-finals, the young horse took his game to a new level, carrying Bean to wins in both go rounds. She won on Tuesday night with a 13.90 second run and got even faster 24 hours later, stopping the clock at 13.83 seconds. As the only cowgirl in the first semi-finals to break fourteen seconds, she earned $8,554 for the two runs. With total San Antonio earnings of $11,976, Bean will make her second consecutive appearance in the finals.
Meanwhile, Taylor continued to use the strategy that won her first career WPRA World Championship: steady, consistent runs. As the top money winner out of bracket five, Taylor won $5,703 in qualifying to the semi-finals. Once there, she made runs of 14.02 and 14.01 to win third and second, respectively in the two rounds.
Taylor's semi-finals earnings were $5,347 to bring her rodeo total to $11,049, more than enough to advance to Saturday's finals on February 28.
Only the top five money winners from the two semi-finals groups advance to compete for the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo's Championship.
Washington cowgirl Pam Capper secured her position in the finals with a second place finish in round one. Riding Sheza Smooth Flight, aka Jesse, Capper qualified to the semi-finals from bracket three with $3,422. She added $3,208 for her 14.00 in round one, making her total earnings $6,629.
Capper entered the semi-finals tied with Bean and Callie DuPerier for fourth, fifth and sixth. While Bean easily punched her ticket with the two wins and Capper secured her spot in round one, DuPerier entered the final night of the first semi-finals needing another win to move into the top five to move on.
Riding Rare Dillion, DuPerier did just what the moment required . . . she won. With a 14.02, she won third in round two. When paired with her fourth place finish for a 14.03 in Rd. 1, DuPerier earned $3,208 in the semi-finals, giving her a total of $6,629, tied with Capper for third and fourth.
Fellow Texan Kenna Squires also came through in the clutch. Squires was clinging to fifth after failing to cash a check in the first round of the semi-finals. She needed some money to secure her spot in the finals and she got in the form of a fourth place check in round two. Running Dashing Trace, Squires' 14.07 was just one one-hundredth ahead of the rest of the field to earn $1,069. Her total San Antonio earnings are $5,631, good enough for fifth.
The field for the finals will be determined on Friday night, February 27 following the second round of the second semi-finals. The set should be exciting to watch with three of the top four money winners from bracket competition set to battle for a spot in the finals. Sarah Rose McDonald and Fame Fling N Bling, Sherry Cervi and Atlas Peak and Kelly Tovar and BB French Fooled Ya will compete along with 2014 San Antonio finalists Shelly Anzick, Britany Diaz, Sarah Kieckhefer and Christine Laughlin. Also in the mix and seeking to climb up on the leaders are three-time Wrangler NFR qualifier Kaley Bass along with top new talent in the likes of Alexa Lake and Carley Richardson.
For more information on the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, visit them on-line at www.sarodeo.com and stay tuned to www.wpra.com for continuing updates.
Name, Horse, Bracket, Semi-Finals Earnings, Total Earnings
Jana Bean, Dashing Klee, Bracket 4, $8,554, $11,976
Fallon Taylor, Flos Heiress, Bracket 5, $5,347, $11,049
Pam Capper, Sheza Smooth Flight, Bracket 3, $3,208, $6,629
Callie Duperier, Rare Dillion, Bracket 3, $3,208, $6,629
Kenna Squires, Dashing Trace, Bracket 1, $1,069, $5,631
Other Money Winners
Victoria Williams, Three Jets Olena, Bracket 1, $4,847
Benette Little, Chicados Cash/JL Dash ta Heaven, Bracket 5, $2,852
Ann Scott, Fallin for Fame, Bracket 2, $2,281
Mary Walker, Perculatin, Bracket 4, $2,281
Kimmie Wall, TKW Bullys Famous Fox, Bracket 2, $1,711