Kathy Grimes

Just Getting ‘Em Started

Grimes claims first world titles with the Futurity 1D and Derby; Vondra claims 4th Futurity 2D Title

Josie Fladager


Kathy Grimes took Extraco Events Center by storm, leaving the WPRA World Finals in Waco, Texas with world titles in the Futurity 1D and the Derby divisions. These are the first world titles for Grimes, and both came aboard young stallions bred and raised by Grimes’ program in Medical Lake, Washington.

Every time Colleen Vondra has been to the WPRA World Finals, she has left with the Futurity 2D world title. Her victory in 2022 makes her fourth title overall that she has taken home to northern Illinois.

KG Jukebox Hero “Tillman”

Kathy Grimes is thankful for good friend Leah Crockett who agreed to go with her to the WPRA World Finals in Waco, Texas, from the State of Washington to ride Grimes’ horses in search of world titles in the Futurity and Derby division. While Crockett was the final jockey it was Grimes who had bred, trained and competed on both horses but just needed assistance getting over the finish line. KG Jukebox Hero “Tillman” got the title in the Futurity 1D division and is out of the mare Grimes’ calls Issy that helped her qualify for the 2017 Wrangler NFR. WPRA photo by Rodeobum.com/James Phifer

Grimes’ Fourth Generation takes Futurity 1D Title
Kathy Grimes knew the points were going to be close for the world title when she looked at the standings in early September. She decided to make the 1,960 mile trip to Waco to fight for the world title. However, on October 16th she broke her ribs and was not able to ride — so her dear friend Leah Crockett made the trip with her and rode both Grimes’ futurity and derby horses at the finals.
“I wasn’t able to ride yet, and I didn’t really feel like I could go by myself,” Grimes noted. “So, I conned my friend Leah into going with me and taking 10 days out of her life to go and help me. It’s kind of stressful to get on someone else’s horse and she did great.”

The year-end futurity 1D champion horse is KG Jukebox Hero, or “Tillman,” by Blazin Jetolena and out of KG Justiceweexpected, or “Issy,” one of Grimes’ mares that helped her qualify for the 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Tillman had an incredible finals, finishing second in the average and securing Grimes’ first-ever world title. The 5-year-old bay stallion placed in both rounds at the finals to finish out his futurity year by adding another $3,584 to his earnings.

“He does try really hard, and I’ve really enjoyed him,” Grimes said. “He’s had a great, solid year too. He has just been pretty consistent and won about $58,000 this year.”

Tillman makes the fourth generation that Grimes has ridden in her nearly 30 years of breeding barrel horses. Grimes rode Issy’s dam, Do It For Beau, to fill her WPRA permit in 2006, and had run barrels on Do It For Beau’s sire, Beaus Scoop of Sun, as well.

“It’s really a family affair,” Grimes said. “Now to start riding some of [Issy’s] foals, and they’re doing great…it is really exciting. It’s really neat to see how far it’s come.”

Grimes, who is also a veterinarian, and Tillman will be home from mid-April to mid-June for the breeding season and then Grimes has plans to enter him in some derbies, and possibly some rodeos, in 2023.

“He’s just a fun horse,” Grimes said. “He’s just kind of like a big goober, always got something in his mouth. [He’s] always happy, meets you at the gate and wants to go do whatever.”

KG Juststealingcash “Phoenix”

A full brother to Issy, KG Juststealingcash “Phoenix” captured Kathy Grimes’ first Derby world title. The 7-year-old stallion will now test the ProRodeo waters in 2023. Leah Crockett jump rode Phoenix at the WPRA World Finals as Grimes was still recovering from broken ribs. WPRA photo by Rodeobum.com/James Phifer

Grimes’ Fourth Generation takes Futurity 1D Title
Kathy Grimes knew the points were going to be close for the world title when she looked at the standings in early September. She decided to make the 1,960 mile trip to Waco to fight for the world title. However, on October 16th she broke her ribs and was not able to ride — so her dear friend Leah Crockett made the trip with her and rode both Grimes’ futurity and derby horses at the finals.

“I wasn’t able to ride yet, and I didn’t really feel like I could go by myself,” Grimes noted. “So, I conned my friend Leah into going with me and taking 10 days out of her life to go and help me. It’s kind of stressful to get on someone else’s horse and she did great.”

The year-end futurity 1D champion horse is KG Jukebox Hero, or “Tillman,” by Blazin Jetolena and out of KG Justiceweexpected, or “Issy,” one of Grimes’ mares that helped her qualify for the 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Tillman had an incredible finals, finishing second in the average and securing Grimes’ first-ever world title. The 5-year-old bay stallion placed in both rounds at the finals to finish out his futurity year by adding another $3,584 to his earnings.

“He does try really hard, and I’ve really enjoyed him,” Grimes said. “He’s had a great, solid year too. He has just been pretty consistent and won about $58,000 this year.”
Tillman makes the fourth generation that Grimes has ridden in her nearly 30 years of breeding barrel horses. Grimes rode Issy’s dam, Do It For Beau, to fill her WPRA permit in 2006, and had run barrels on Do It For Beau’s sire, Beaus Scoop of Sun, as well.

“It’s really a family affair,” Grimes said. “Now to start riding some of [Issy’s] foals, and they’re doing great…it is really exciting. It’s really neat to see how far it’s come.”
Grimes, who is also a veterinarian, and Tillman will be home from mid-April to mid-June for the breeding season and then Grimes has plans to enter him in some derbies, and possibly some rodeos, in 2023.

“He’s just a fun horse,” Grimes said. “He’s just kind of like a big goober, always got something in his mouth. [He’s] always happy, meets you at the gate and wants to go do whatever.”

Colleen Vondra

Colleen Vondra has had great success in the WPRA Futurity 2D division having won the world title four times now with her most recent aboard SRA French Fire Water “Peso.” Vondra and the 5-year-old gelding by Frenchmans Royal CJ and out of SR Firewater Girl carried his owner to the winner’s circle and added another title to her resume as a jockey and trainer. WPRA photo by Rodeobum.com/James Phifer

Vondra and Peso earn Futurity 2D Title
Colleen Vondra rode SR French Fire Water, or “Peso,” to the Futurity 2D world title. The 5-year-old gelding is by Frenchmans Royal CJ (owned by Ed Pfaff) and out of SR Firewater Girl.

The Harvard, Illinois cowgirl first won the Futurity 2D world title in 2010 and has won the title every four years since then. Vondra didn’t have it planned this way, but this year more than ever it just happened to work out.  

The four-time Great Lakes Circuit finalist had two finished horses she was going to run in rodeos and was not going to run Peso in the futurities. Unfortunately, both her finished horses came up sick, and Vondra’s futurity colts got the call to start running.

Peso’s first competition run was made this July and he began to climb in the world standings. Peso placed in the top 10 of the 2D in both rounds at the finals to secure the 2022 world title.

“It’s pretty cool,” Vondra said. “It wasn’t really part of the plan, but that kind of just goes to show we’re not the one that’s in control of that.”

Vondra says Peso can be a bit of a handful. He came to Vondra as an outside horse for her to train, and he stayed because he was so quirky. She had then tried to sell him when he was younger, but knew he was going to need to go to the right rider if she did.

“I knew that he was not going to be for just everybody and I wanted to make sure that he got put in the right spot, so I held on to him because of that,” Vondra said.

Vondra likes the setup of the WPRA Futurity with the 2D, because even though running Peso wasn’t part of the plan this year, he could still gain experience and earn some money with his late start.

“The futurities, especially with the 2D, is a way you can still go and compete, and them not be solid and ready to hit the rodeos yet.”

Vondra says Peso went from the horse no one wanted to buy to one she is not selling. She is excited with the progress he has made so far and knows that all the greats have a few quirks.  

“I want to season him to rodeos this year and maybe a few derbies,” Vondra said. “I think he will have a fun style for our circuit!”

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