Mississippi natives Blaise Bercegeay and Brian Wheeler’s program was on display at Dash For Cash Productions in Tunica, Mississippi, as the couple left with more than $19,000 in winnings.

No strangers to the winner’s circle, Blaise Bercegeay from Summit, Mississippi, and Brian Wheeler, originally from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, are a powerful couple who have been at the top of the barrel racing leaderboards for over a decade now.

“I remember at National Barrel Horse Association Youth World in 2007, I won the first and second go on SX Frenchmans Moca (Frenchmans Guy x SX Docs Digit x Doc Bruce) trained by Lainee Shearer, and then all the sudden, a girl named Blaise Bercegeay on Red Man Bay (Dinky’s Red Man x Miss Take A Chance x Boston Lad) came in and outran everyone in the finals to win the NBHA Youth World title that year. That’s how we met, and really, the rest was history,” said Wheeler, who has now been dating Bercegeay for five years. 

Along with their individual success as youth barrel racers, Bercegeay and Wheeler have continued to have success into their 20s in all aspects of barrel racing, from breeding and raising winners to training and jockeying some of the best horses going down the road today. 

Most recently, the dynamic duo spent the weekend at Tunica, Mississippi, from March 31–April 2, where they won over $19,000 collectively at the Dash for Cash Productions Open Barrel Race, a feat that is nearly unheard of at an Open barrel race without a slot race. 

Even more impressive, Wheeler trained seven of the eight horses that contributed to their winnings over the weekend, along with training all three different horses that won the Open each day of the barrel race.

Bonding over their love of fast, well-bred horses, Bercegeay and Wheeler have since molded their program to make careers out of breeding, raising, training, and jockeying horses by great studs out of even greater mares.

Most notably, Bercegeay is now jockeying two horses out of the Wheeler family’s blue-hen mare SX Dr Peacharita (Dr Nick Bar x SX Frenchmans Peach x Frenchmans Guy) that nearly single-handedly shaped Wheeler’s career as a winning futurity trainer and competitor —  SBW Copy Cat by Blazin Jetolena, owned by Bercegeay, and SBW Heavenly Peach by Heavenly Firewater, owned by Stephanie Wheeler. 

A mare comparable to some of the greatest producing female lines in the barrel horse industry, such as Mulberry Canyon Moon, Mistys Dash Of Fame and Sissys Little Coin, SX Dr Peacharita has progeny earnings of over $230,000 with a limited foal crop to compete at the futurities and derbies. 

“Our goal is to make SBW Heavenly Peach (“Bonnie”) our replacement for her dam, SX Dr Peacharita. Since Blaise had so much success on SBW Copy Cat his derby years, I am hoping she can follow suit with Bonnie to help increase her value as a broodmare and dam to her future foals,” Wheeler explained. 

Wheeler’s mother, Stephanie Wheeler, played a key role in his successful partnership with SX Dr Peacharita. Longtime client Kim Matthews of Mission Ranch, LLC has also played a vital part in giving Wheeler the opportunity to train and compete on winning futurity horses over the years.

Wheeler started the weekend at Tunica with a bang, winning the 1D and $2,114 on Friday night with a 14.865 on derby horse Stoli My Firewater (Heavenly Firewater x Stoli My Guy x Traffic Guy), who was a 2021 Barrel Futurities of America SuperStakes money earner and is owned by Matthews. 

Brian Wheeler turns a barrel at Tunica
Brian Wheeler started the weekend at Dash for Cash Productions in Tunica with a bang, winning the 1D and $2,114 on Friday night with a 14.865 on derby horse Stoli My Firewater (Heavenly Firewater x Stoli My Guy x Traffic Guy), owned by Mission Ranch. Photo by Ty Ferrell Photography

SBWFeelinthepressure, owned by Stephanie Wheeler, was the highest-money earner among Wheeler’s futurity horses for the weekend, placing fourth in the 1D on Friday night with a 15.038 and 12th in the 1D on Sunday with a 15.063. They also claimed the futurity side-pot wins on both Friday and Sunday to win $3,103 all together. 

By No Pressure On Me, “Gage” was the reserve champion at the 2022 BFA Juvenile in November and has won over $26,000 so far this year. The 4-year-old gelding is out of Feelinthefirewater, a full sister to the great stallion Heavenly Firewater (JL Dash Ta Heaven x Firewater Fanny x Fire Water Flit). Both Feelinthefirewater and Heavenly Firewater are owned by Matthews and were trained and ridden by Molli Montgomery to standout futurity seasons in 2017, winning over $235,000 collectively.

Streakin Moon Flash (First Moonflash x Guys Streakin Angel x Frenchman’s Guy), also owned by Matthews, is another notable futurity horse on Wheeler’s trailer this year. The 5-year-old mare was 15th in the 1D on Sunday, running a 15.118, and placed second in the futurity side-pot on both Friday and Sunday.

“Demi” has proven to be a force to be reckoned with, claiming the Oklahoma City Rookie Futurity championship in December 2022 and earning over $30,000 so far this futurity year. 

The other two futurity horses on Wheeler’s trailer just happen to be full siblings by Heavenly Firewater and out of SX Dr Peacharita — 4-year-old mare Feelin Peachy, owned by Matthews, and 4-year-old gelding SBW I Call The Shots, owned by Stephanie Wheeler. 

Feelin Peachy was ninth in the 2D on Friday, running a 15.515, but stepped it up Saturday to run a 15.431 and place second in the futurity side-pot. Wheeler and Feelin Peachy also recently won the Aloha Acres Put-Up or Shut-Up One Day Futurity in Union, South Carolina, for $4,760.

The stars aligned for Wheeler and SBW I Call The Shots in Tunica, running a 15.386 on Friday to win the Open 2D and $1,762.

Not to be outdone, Bercegeay scorched a 14.749 on SBW Copy Cat to win the Open 1D and derby side-pot Saturday. The team also placed second in the 1D on Sunday with 14.879 and claimed the derby side-pot yet again, along with winning second in the 1D average for the weekend and over $6,000. One of Bercegeay’s most monumental feats on SBW Copy Cat include running the fastest time of the 2021 Barrel Futurities of America as well as winning the second round of the BFA Derby that same year.

Blaise Bercegeay turns a barrel at Tunica
Blaise Bercegeay ran the fastest time of the weekend in Tunica, a 14.749 on SBW Copy Cat to win the Open 1D and derby side-pot Saturday. The team also placed second in the 1D on Sunday with 14.879 and claimed the derby side-pot yet again, along with winning second in the 1D average for the weekend and over $6,000. Bercegeay ended the weekend as the highest-money earner with $9,833. Photo by Ty Ferrell Photography

Bercegeay also placed eighth in the 1D on Friday aboard SBW Heavenly Peach to clock a 15.153 and place second in the derby side-pot. The duo came back with a vengeance on Saturday, running a 14.852 to place fourth in the 1D and once again place second in the derby side-pot. 

This newfound team also recently placed sixth in the Good Times Barrel Racing Association Slot Race in Perry, Georgia, winning $5,000. 

“Sometimes I get stuck in trainer mode and won’t leave the derby horses alone, so Blaise has been a good fit for them after their futurity year,” Wheeler explained. 

Wheeler also started and trained the horse that captured the Sunday 1D win for $1,767 — Phireman (Phame x Fire Water Vision x Fire Water Flit), jockeyed by Jamie Cagle and owned by Bricklee Miller. 

“You see that a lot; someone trains a horse their futurity year and has a lot of success on it, but then someone else is able to get on that same horse as a derby horse and have just as much success, if not more,” Bercegeay added. “I really trust the horses Brian trains, so I can be confident enough to ask them for their life when I need to.”

Bercegeay made the last day count on her home-bred, -raised, and -trained stallion BR The Tonka Taxi (Dash Ta Fame x Nick Bar Girl x Dr Nick Bar), running a 15.020 and placing eighth in the 1D on Sunday.

When the curtain closed, Bercegeay beat Wheeler out of the high-money earner saddle for the weekend by a mere $549, in which Bercegeay had total weekend earnings of $9,833 and Wheeler had a total of $9,394. 

“Although we root for each other, we definitely are competitive between one another. We both like to win,” Bercegeay said. “I think the biggest piece of advice I can give couples wanting to train and have a program together is to be uplifting to one another. If Brian is ever frustrated with a colt, I really try to find something positive to point out about the horse to help encourage him to keep going and keep trying.”

While Bercegeay leaves the the beginning stages of starting and training the futurity horses to Wheeler, you can find Bercegeay down at the barn every single day saddling colts for Wheeler and watching him ride.

“Blaise helps me a lot with the horses, not just physically, but she really helps me keep in check mentally in the day-to-day process of riding and training young horses,” Wheeler said. “She’s the first one to tell me to cut a colt some slack when needed and is so helpful to point out something small that will make such a big difference, like swapping my bit or even just a different approach in the way I am working a horse.” 

Whether it was divine intervention or fate that Wheeler’s and Bercegeay’s paths crossed 16 years ago in Jackson, Mississippi, at the NBHA Youth World, there is no denying that due to their partnership as elite trainer and elite jockey, in addition to their belief in one another inside and outside of the arena, the pair’s recent success as a power couple in the barrel racing industry will not be the last of their win pictures shared together.

The dynamic duo’s next goal is to prepare the futurity and derby horses for the Old Fort Days Futurity and Super Derby in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Wheeler and Bercegeay each boast top-five finishes in both the Futurity Time Trials and the Derby Finals at the 2022 Old Fort Days event aboard foals by SX Dr Peacharita, and they aim to do the same again this year. 


Morgan Anderson is a professional futurity barrel horse trainer and contributor to Barrel Horse News. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

1 Comment

  1. Seanna Berry Reply

    Appreciate your article. I know the young couple,Blaise and Brian from a close distance. I worked at the ranch for a short time with my stepdaughter Mindy(my daughter in heart).It’s where I met the young beautiful,yet ,humble couple. Ms. Blaise’s signature was on my checks.First time I ever saw this young lady was from afar and having early stages of eyes problems,I could see the humbling and pride in her walk. I knew than at that moment that this young woman was definitely someone great. Not to mention someone good for my Mindy(My little Blonde Beauty). See Mindy has always had the desire to work with and ride horses,so she and Ms.Blaise have developed a relationship. Not to leave little Mr.Brian out of the greater.When I met him he too,left me with the same impression as Ms.Blaise,genuine,humble and prideful. It is an honor to have met them. I am very fond of them all. And get so excited to hear and read of their accomplishments along with their successes and adventures. Sincerely,Seanna L.Berry

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