Jamey Hunt, 23, and a 4-year-old mare named Marthas Smoothover were the talk of the town in Fort Smith, Ark., following their victory at the 1999 Old Fort Days Futurity held May 27-29. It was the most dramatic finish in the 22-year history of Fort Smith when, Jamey, who ran last of the 50 Futurity finalists, snatched the Championship away from Paul Cooper and Ryons Vapor Trail, who ran first and held the lead through 49 challengers.

Jamey Hunt Shatters Records at Old Fort Days Wins $105,500
Story and photos by Kenneth Springer – Published in the July 1999 issue of Barrel Horse News

Super Derby
The Saturday night finals audience was first treated to a fast-paced Super Derby finals where the 30 fastest Super Derby entries out of a field of 286 competed for a share of a $176,754 purse.
With a near flawless run of 16.437, Sheri Stanley of Fort Worth and her 6-year-old mare, Christians Cupid, set the standard of quality that would be required to take home an Old Fort Days Championship in 1999. In order to do so, Sheri had to outrun famed Old Fort Days Champion Kim Landry of Starke, Fla., and On The Money Luv, who recorded a 16.461 early in the program.

“I told myself just before I went down the alley in the finals that I was riding the horse that could win the Super Derby if I rode her right,” Sheri said. “I really pushed her hard to the first barrel. She went just a hair past it, but I just kept asking her and she ran and turned the second and third barrels perfectly.”

Sheri, a senior elementary education major at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, came to Fort Smith with very little previous Derby or Futurity experience.

“I bought my mare, whom I call Blondie, last August from JoAnna Stone of Burleson, Texas,” Sheri explained. “The only other Derby that I have run her in was at Oklahoma City last December.”
Proving once again that the fastest time, not the most experience, wins in barrel racing, Sheri pocketed $8,000 at Oklahoma City. But Fort Smith’s whopping $39,000 first-place Super Derby prize topped that by a wide margin.

Although she didn’t reveal the exact price she paid for her prize barrel horse, Sheri stated, “The two checks from Oklahoma City and Fort Smith more than paid for her.”

Of double-bred Easy Jet lineage, Christians Cupid caught Sheri’s eye at several local jackpots around Fort Worth.

I was trying another horse and riding around with JoAnna and I told her I would like to find a horse like Blondie because she reminded me of the mare I was trying to replace,” she said. “I thought Blondie’s style was very much like my mare’s. When JoAnna called me the next day and said she would sell, I immediately went and tried her and bought her.”

Having ridden since age of 4, Sheri hopes in the near future to teach school and train and ride barrel horses.

“I have a 4-year-old that I would like to get going and then I’d like to get my WPRA card and rodeo on Blondie,” Sheri said.

The biggest influences in Sheri’s barrel racing career have been her father, Paul Stanley who died when Sheri was only 7, and Jim Carr.

“My dad got me involved in horses and barrel racing before he died and Jim Carr has helped me keep all of my horses tuned,” she said. “He’s been a great coach. And of course my mom has been a constant supporter and encourager.”

July1999 webJuly 1999 Barrel Horse News

Futurity Champion
The barrel racer attracting all of the attention since his win at Fort Smith is 23-year-old Jamey Hunt of Louisburg, N.C. To put into perspective the significance of Jamey’s $105,000 win, a look back at the 1998 National Finals Barrel Race in Las Vegas, Nev., will do the trick.

For the first time in the history of the sport, WPRA barrel racers competed for equal prize money at the NFR as that of the cowboys. World Champion Kristie Peterson and her great horse, Bozo, took full advantage of the opportunity and pocketed $99,091 after placing in nine of the 10 go-rounds and winning the average. It stood as the record for the most money ever earned by a barrel racer at a single event until Hunt hit the $105,500 jackpot at Fort Smith.

In addition to being a talented rider, what does it take to win the world’s richest barrel race? The slight 130 pounds that Jamey carries on a 5-foot, 10-inch frame is certainly no handicap. But it was 1,050 pounds of dynamite on a 15.1 hands frame named Marthas Smoothover that carried Jamey across the finish line. “Martha,” a classy sorrel daughter, of leading barrel horse sire Marthas Six Moons out of the Pacific Bailey by Jet Smooth bred mare, Baileys Smooth Pac, was purchased by proud owner Michael Boone in February 1998.

Michael, from Altoona, Penn., first saw the mare as a 2-year-old when she went through the Oklahoma City barrel horse sale in December 1997.

“I really liked her looks,” Michael said. “But for some reason, I didn’t buy her. Before I ever got home I was kicking myself for not paying whatever it took to get her bought. When I read in the Quarter Horse News that it was my friend, Bob Hamilton, of Wooster, Ohio, who was the successful bidder at $3,700 I began calling him.”

After much persistence on the part of Michael, Bob agreed to sell the mare for $1,000 more than he had paid. When he went to pick up his purchase, Michael wasn’t so sure his hunch about the filly was correct.

“She was pawing at the trailer and very nervous,” he said. ‘A.t home, she wasn’t much better. When I first started riding her I couldn’t even get the splint boots on her.”

But Michael quickly discovered three key characteristics about Martha. She had a very, very light mouth, she learned very quickly and she was very consistent.

“From the beginning she had a very responsive mouth,” Michael said. “Also, you could show her something once and she never forgot it. I could lope her around the barrels 10 times and each time, it would be exactly the same. The only doubts I had were if she was fast enough. I know my limitations as a rider so I never attempted to take her fast or run her.”

Having jockeyed Michael’s 4-year-old, Dangerous Streakin, to an 18th-place $8,539 finish at the 1998 Old Fort Days Futurity, Jamey was Michael’s one and only choice to finish out his promising mare. Jamey and Martha’s march to the Old Fort Days championship began in July 1998 when Jamey began putting the finishing touches on the filly.

“By fall of last year, Martha was running times in exhibition that were right with the open horses,” Jamey said. “I knew she had everything it took to be a winner. “

After running “green” at the first 1999 futurities, Marthas Smoothover hit the winner’s circle at San Antonio with a fourth-place finish. Improving with each time out, Marthas Smoothover put it all together at the Las Colinas Futurity in Irving, Texas, where they won all the go-rounds against a field of 100 of the best.

“She’s just pretty much a natural,” Jamey said. “Michael did all the slow work and I put the finishing touches on her. She does all the work now. I’m very lucky that she peaked right before Fort Smith and held on to it.”
Michael felt that the odds of his mare winning Fort Smith were not favorable.

“Martha and Jamey had won first at five of their last six runs, including their first place in the time trials at Fort Smith,” he said. “You can only ask so much out of a horse, so I didn’t really expect to win the Finals at Fort Smith. I was proud of her and Jamey regardless of where they finished.”

Experience gained at such events as the National Barrel Horse Association Regional Championships in Lexington, Va., in 1998 where Jamey earned the 1D Championship, served him well at Fort Smith.

“I really wasn’t nervous at all before my run in the Finals at Fort Smith,” Jamey said. “I was riding Martha around and she felt great. I was calm and she was calm. I had some friends come tell me that ground was getting a little slick and some others told me to ride smart. I had only one thought and that was to position her correctly going into the first barrel. I knew if I did, she would do the rest.”

And do the rest she did. Having been the last runner of 50 finalists, when Jamey’s time of 16.486 flashed across Ralph Goldman’s electronic scoreboard, Jamey and Marthas Smoothover gave a new meaning to instant winners. The $105,500 first place belonged to them.

What does a young, talented barrel horse trainer do with his half of $105,500? Jamey has put his in the bank.

“I’ve got it drawing interest. If I get broke, I’ll use some of it, but I hope in the near future to buy my own place and I’ll use the f money for that.”

At age 23, Jamey is already an NBHA Regional Champion and an Old Fort Days Futurity Champion. Thousands of competitors twice and three times his age would sacrifice almost anything to earn even one of them. But goals are what accomplishments are made of and Jamey has plenty of goals left to fulfill.

“The other thing that I would like to do this year is be the high money winning rider for the entire year,” Jamey said.

With a single check from Fort Smith of $105,500 already posted to his credit, that goal should not be too far fetched nor too hard to achieve. It will only add icing to the cake for this new barrel racing super star!


Email comments or questions to [email protected]

Write A Comment