Speed Money, aka “Bumper,” and Sharon Smith earned the 1996 Calgary Stampede barrel racing crown. It was the first year the marquee event awarded a $50,000 bonus to the champion. Photo by Copeman.

Sharon Smith-Davis’ great Speed Money was the superstar that helped launch On The Money Red’s barrel racing legacy.

Before horses like Flos Heiress and Slick By Design were carrying on the legacy of On The Money Red, one of Equi-Stat’s all-time leading barrel racing sires, Speed Money was the superstar that made everyone look twice.

The cherry-red, blazed-faced gelding carried nurse Sharon Smith-Davis on the ride of a lifetime in the 1990s.

After a disappointingly brief career at the track, “Bumper,” in Sharon’s hands, won the 1990 Barrel Futurities of America’s Year-End Championship. They went on to qualify for five National Finals Rodeos before the gelding’s tragic death in 1998.

“He was a force to be reckoned with regardless of my amateur status and riding skills,” said Sharon, who now resides in Blanchard, Oklahoma. “He was wonderful to haul. He had an even temperament. He was a dream.”

A Dream

A self-taught competitor, Sharon didn’t have a lot of training experience when Bumper came into her life. In fact, he was just her third horse.

“I had a large pony named Rebel when I was kid,” explained the Florida native. “He probably could have been pretty good if he had someone on him that knew what they were doing. Everything I went to, he won everything—barrels, poles, buddy-pickup, double barrels— everything. I went to nursing school and sold him.”

Two years later, Sharon wanted to get back into horses and purchased one through a friend.

“He was probably medium-good,” she said. “I trained him myself, not really knowing what I was doing. It looked like he had some lameness issues, so I was looking for another horse.”

Sharon’s childhood friend Joy Pirkle knew of a horse. Pirkle was exercising racehorses at the track and knew of a great-minded 2-year-old that was being used as a pony horse.

“She said, I can’t believe the mind on this 2-year-old,” Sharon recalled Joy saying. “I called Marilyn Clark. She owned On The Money Red and the colt was one of his offspring. She told me that they had tried to race him. He had run an 89 (speed index). For her race program that wasn’t adequate enough, so they gave him a job as a pony horse.”

Sharon tried Bumper, the 1986 foal out of the Mr Jet Magic mare Pin A Rose On Me, and gave $1,500 for the gelding.

Speed Money and Sharon.
At the 1990 BFA World Championships, Sharon and Bumper set an arena record. Photo by Kenneth Springer.
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