By Blanche Schaefer
Winning one $100,000 slot race is no easy mission, let alone three in one year. Since December 2016, Lacey Harmon has done just that, all aboard horses bred, raised and trained at her family’s Split Bone Ranch in Bluff Dale, Texas, and owned by her mother, Kathy Donegan.
In 2016, she took home the coveted $100,000 Barrel Futurities of America Super Stakes title aboard Flashin Flitter. She collected another $100,000 slot win a couple months later in February 2017, dominating by six-tenths of a second, on Just The Way You Are (Roosters Fame x Streakin Scat Cat x Bop Trot) at the final LG Pro Classic. Harmon repeated her Super Stakes victory at the 2017 BFA on Tee It Up In My Sox, becoming the first back-to-back Super Stakes champion in BFA history.
“It’s all coming to play,” said Harmon, whose Equi-Stat winnings now surpass $653,600. “Everybody keeps telling me it’s something for the record books, because nobody’s ever bred, raised and trained so many slot horses. It shows hard work pays off, and having good bloodlines and good barrel horses all pays off.”
The Super Stakes is an especially difficult race to win—a single run, high-stakes debut for 3-year-olds that have never been entered. Harmon takes an intuitive approach to ensuring her horses are healthy and ready to run and that she is mentally prepared when she heads down the alley.
How do you determine if you’re going to run a horse as a juvenile (3-year-old) at the BFA?
That’s totally on the horse. You can tell; I can’t really explain to someone how to tell that. It’s how they’re handling themselves: are they getting it right off the bat, or are you having to show them multiple times how to do something? It’s how their mind works; are they getting hot? Are they liking their job? You’ve got to read the horse.
What’s your exercise program for the juvenile horses?
In general on a day-to-day basis, before [the BFA] in Oklahoma City, they only get worked two to three times a week. I might take them to exhibition two or three times a week and then they just get put out on an exerciser. I really don’t work them on the barrels a whole lot.
What’s your feeding program?
We feed good alfalfa from New Mexico and BlueBonnet Feeds.
Can you usually tell how your colts are going to run based on exhibitions at the futurity?
That’s kind of hard to say, because [Tee It Up In My Sox] is the kind of horse that feels terrible to exhibition but amazing to run. She doesn’t do slow work very well. The morning of the slot race practice, I wanted to cruise her through but I didn’t want to run her. I was trying to slow her up, and she just ran over the first barrel. I was like, well that was good! She doesn’t slow work well, so you just never know. She felt good, really happy and sound just warming up. I felt like I was really nervous for the slot race and even for the juvenile on her, because I knew how awesome she’d been and I didn’t want to mess anything up.
How do you prepare yourself for a slot run?
Just relax and let it happen. You’ve already done the work, so there’s not much you can do. You have to let your horse work, and if it happens it happens, and if it doesn’t it doesn’t.
What advice would you give someone aiming at a high-stakes run or wanting to enter a slot race for the first time?
I would give the advice to not be afraid to ask questions and ask for help. I feel like people are always intimidated by the big-time futurity trainers, and they’re not intimidating at all. They’re so friendly and helpful, and everybody wants to help everybody out. When I started I probably was intimidated, and I don’t feel like you need to be.
Who have been your mentors?
Kassie Mowry and Dena Kirkpatrick helped me a lot when I first go started. Just in general, keep asking questions from anybody. Kassie and Dena both helped me a lot, and my mom (Kathy Donegan) was my biggest fan.
Blanche Schaefer is associate editor of Barrel Horse News. Email comments on this article to [email protected]. Be sure to grab a copy of the February 2018 issue of BHN for complete coverage of the 2017 Barrel Futurities of America World Championships.