Brittany Pozzi, Victoria, Texas, quickened her pace at the right time to emerge as the WPRA barrel racing champion of the Pace Picante ProRodeo Classic Texas Stampede, held Nov. 7-9.
By Kenneth Springer, originally published in the December 2003 issue of BHN
The action took place in the hockey rink sized arena of the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas, Texas. With only 12 contestants running for a share of the $58,745 total purse, it was no ordinary barrel race.
The most restrictive barrel race in the history of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association, the Pace Picante ProRodeo Classic in Dallas consisted of the four Winter Tour finalists, the four Summer Tour finalists and the four WPRA barrel racers who had the highest combined points from the 10 Winter Tour Rodeos and the 10 Summer Tour Rodeos combined.
Coming in to the final rodeo of the regular season, Pozzi, a 2003 WPRA Rookie, was ranked third in the Jack Daniels World standings with $66,151. A big win at Dallas was what she needed to climb to No. 1 with $79,076.
The format for the Pace Picante ProRodeo Classic was the same as the other two such events, the Winter Finale held in Las Vegas, Nev., in June and the Summer Finale held in Omaha, Neb., in October. Each of the 12 elite barrel racers ran the first performance and then turned around and ran again the next night to complete the second go-round. Only four places were paid in each round. Then the times were added together and four checks were written to the four fastest times on two runs combined. After that, all previous times were discarded and the top eight. advanced to the semifinals, where four checks were again paid out. And again, all times were discarded and the top four ran in the finals where only the top two received money.
Since the middle of the summer, life has been a whirlwind for Pozzi. After having a bad winter, when she found it difficult to win enough to fill her permit so she could purchase her WPRA card, Pozzi climbed from nowhere to the top of the standings. In August she was ranked 20th, on Nov. 9th she was ranked No. 1. A win of $6,000 in Utah in a four-day period and an $8,000 week in August helped advance her cause. Then a $19,386 win at the Pace Picante Summer Finale in Omaha coupled with a $12,925 win at Dallas stacked up the dollars to put her literally on top of the World.
“It’s hard to believe all of this is happening,” said a bubbly Pozzi. “I know I rode as hard in the finals here as I’ve ever ridden in my life. I hit a barrel in the finals at Omaha and I know what a bummer that is. I didn’t want the same thing to happen to me here.”
It’s been three years since a WPRA Rookie has qualified for the NFR. Being the only Rookie among the top 15, Pozzi can already enjoy the thought of being the 2003 WPRA Rookie of the Year. She’s the first teenager to win the award since Charmayne James did so 19 years ago in 1984. To put history in perspective, Pozzi was born the year James won the Rookie-of-the-Year and her first of 11 World championships.
“I’m excited about going to my first NFR,” said Pozzi. “That’s what I’ll spend the next two weeks working on – getting my clothes together and everything ready to head to Las Vegas. I couldn’t be more excited.”