By Jolee Lautaret-Jordan
San Antonio, Texas — The final two brackets to compete at the 2015 San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo closed with a flurry on Monday night, February 23, following two performances a day over the weekend.
Just 50 cowgirls are invited to compete here, qualifying based on positions in the current WPRA World standings, 2014 WPRA World standings and the 2014 WPRA Tour. Divided into five brackets of 10 ladies each, the competitors get three runs to try to earn enough money to be among the top four of her bracket and thereby advance to the semi-finals. There are no averages paid, every night is a new payoff, and money won is the key to continued advancement.
The 20 ladies to survive bracket competition now begin the semi-finals. Based upon their bracket and qualifying position, the ladies will either compete Tuesday-Wednesday or Thursday-Friday in the two-run semi-finals. Each night will pay $4,277 to the winner and the top five money winners (bracket and semi-finals money) will move on to the finals.
The Championships will be determined in the sudden-death finals on Saturday, February 28. Ten cowgirls will make one run with the winner taking home $14,476. The Champion will be the cowgirl who has won the most money during the entire rodeo following the final round.
Since the new season began back in October, Rockdale, Texas cowgirl Kelly Tovar has been hovering near the lead of the WPRA World standings. Tovar won several rodeos in the fall before starting the winter off with a big win at the Sandhills Stock Show in Odessa.
Currently ranked seventh, Tovar has been one of the Cinderella stories of the new season. Her great palomino gelding BB French Fooled Ya, aka Edwin, bounced back from a serious injury and an even more serious bout with blister beetles last season to take the pro ranks by storm in 2015.
Tovar made her first career appearance at the AT&T Center during the fourth bracket of competition beginning Friday night, February 20. She and Edwin, who runs to the left barrel first, were the only pair in their bracket to place in all three payoffs, running out to $5,132 in earnings.
Tovar won third in the first round with her run of 13.91 seconds. In the second round, she ran even faster at 13.89 seconds and moved up to second place. Edwin shaved another three one-hundredths off that time, carrying Tovar to the round win in the third and final round on Saturday night.
2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Jana Bean continued her hot winter run aboard the five year old Dashing Klee, aka Chick. Bean shared the reserve champion title at the Fort Worth Stock Show earlier this month, Chick's third rodeo. In San Antonio, the young horse impressed again, winning second in the opening round and second again in round three for total earnings of $3,422. It was enough for Bean to finish second in the bracket and advance to the semi-finals.
Rounding out the top four are Texas cowgirls Alexa Lake and Mary Walker. Lake is currently fourth in the WPRA World standings and looking for her first Wrangler NFR qualification while Walker is the 2012 WPRA World Champion. Riding Sure Down Dash, aka Viper, Lake won the opening round of bracket four with her run of 13.86 and added a fourth in round two for total earnings of $2,851.
Walker won round two with 13.84 seconds, earning $2,281, enough for fourth in the bracket. Walker is riding her World Champion partner Perculatin, better known as Latte.
Bracket Four Money Winners
Tovar, BB French Fooled Ya, $5,132
Bean, Dashing Klee, $3,422
Lake, Sure Down Dash, $2,851
Walker, Perculatin, $2,281
Carlee Pierce, Streakin Easy April, $1,711
Kim Schulze, Vegaspeed, $855
Lisa Lockhart, An Okie with Cash, $855
PHOTO BY: Greg Westfall
Reigning WPRA World Champion Fallon Taylor and the super tough Babyflo have been the perfect picture of consistency since a disappointing outing in the 2013 Wrangler NFR. Since that time, Taylor and the gritty little mare have worked to hit fewer barrels and win bigger average checks, including a second place finish at the 2014 Wrangler NFR that helped clinch Taylor's first WPRA World Championship.
In the final bracket of the 2015 San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, Taylor and the 2013 AQHA/WPRA Horse of the Year who is registered Flos Heiress won the opening round with a wicked time of 13.78 seconds, the fastest time posted since the second round of bracket two. Taylor and Babyflo then kept to their plan of consistent runs, winning two seconds with runs of 14.07 and 13.99.
Taylor came to the Alamo City ranked third in the WPRA World standings and added a bracket best $5,703 to her season total.
Montana cowgirl Shelly Anzick rocked the AT&T Center a year ago, winning every round in her bracket and finishing with better than $6,000 in earnings as she qualified to the finals. Her success in San Antonio with Scooter, aka Scooten ta Fame, carried over to 2015. She won second in the opening round with a fast time of 13.84 seconds. Though she hit a barrel in round two, Anzick rebounded with a go round win in round three with 13.92 seconds. Her total earnings of $3,992 ensured her spot in the semi-finals.
Like Taylor, Kaley Bass and her great horse Wonders Cowboy Dan are known for their smooth, consistent runs. In bracket five in San Antonio, Bass and Cowboy placed in every round, winning third, fourth and third to earn $2,852. She will also move on to the next rounds.
Two-time Wrangler NFR qualifier Benette Little made the most of the opportunity presented to her during bracket five. Originally, former Montana Circuit Champ Lindsay Kruse was scheduled to compete. However, Kruse is pregnant with her second child with husband, PRCA World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider Jesse, and the baby didn't come early enough for Kruse to compete in San Antonio.
So Little got the call as a replacement and made the most of the chance. Running her powerhouse team of stallions, she won $2,851 including a win in round two aboard JL Dash ta Heaven with her run of 14.02 seconds. Chicados Cash carried the load in rounds one and three, picking up a fourth in the first round.
It's been a big week for Little as she claimed the title at the Dixie National in Jackson, Miss., to start the week for a huge paycheck worth $6,474.
Bracket Five Money Winners
Taylor, Flos Heiress, $5,703
Anzick, Scooten ta Fame, $3,992
Bass, Wonders Cowboy Dan, $2,852
Little, Chicados Cash & JL Dash ta Heaven, $2,851
Layna Kight, Eyesa So Famous, $1,141
Laura Kennedy, Hopes Money Boy, $570
Fallon Taylor, Flos Heiress, $5,703
Victoria Williams, Three Jets Olena, $4,847
Kenna Squires, Dashing Trace, $4,562
Jana Bean, Dashing Klee, $3,422
Callie Duperier, Rare Dillion, $3,422
Pam Capper, Sheza Smooth Flight, $3,422
Kaley Bass, Wonders Cowboy Dan, $2,852
Ann Scott, Fallin for Fame, $2,281
Mary Walker, Perculatin, $2,281
Kimmie Wall, TKW Bullys Famous Fox, $1,711
Sarah Rose McDonald, Fame Fling N Bling, $6,843
Sherry Cervi, Atlas Peak, $6,273
Kelly Tovar, BB French Fooled Ya, $5,132
Shelly Anzick, Scooten ta Fame, $3,992
Sarah Kieckhefer, Cruisen Okey Dokey, $3,422
Benette Little, Chicados Cash/JL Dash ta Heaven, $2,852
Alexa Lake, Sure Down Dash, $2,851
Britany Diaz, Dasher Dude, $2,281
Christine Laughlin, Guys Six Pack to Go, $2,281
Carley Richardson, Doda Flit, $2,281