The 2022 Breeders Challenge Finale is bringing the top Breeders Challenge-enrolled futurity, derby and open barrel horses to Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas, from September 14–17.
Horses enrolled in the Breeders Challenge program sired by enrolled stallions can compete at any Breeders Challenge qualifier throughout the year to earn their place in the prestigious $1 million-added Finale, and it’s easy to see why competitors have made Breeders Challenge events a priority on their race schedules. The Finale is a no-entry-fee qualifying race featuring some of the biggest payouts available in barrel racing — $450,000 Futurity, $250,000 Derby, $50,000 semifinals long round in the futurity and derby, $120,000 Amateur Derby, $150,000 Open 4D, $15,000 Youth (17 & under) and $25,000 Seasoned Rider (50 and up).
Find full results and information about the Breeders Challenge here.
Kassie Mowry Dominates Futurity at 2022 Breeders Challenge Finale
FORT WORTH, TEXAS — September 17, 2022 — Days after winning the Breeders Challenge Open Finale earlier this week (see below), Kassie Mowry and KL Touch Of Heaven returned in the Futurity Finals to lay claim to the $400,000 Breeders Challenge Futurity Finale title. “Dove” clocked a time of 15.223, even with a slip at the first turn. The victory paid a whopping $100,000.
“That boy, he must know when the stakes are high,” Mowry said. “He just keeps trying. I’m so proud of him.”
The 2018 gelding by JL Dash Ta Heaven and out of Junior Country Girl by Deep Note Jr also earned Breeders Challenge Horse of the Year honors. Dove and his connections swept the year-end titles, with Mowry winning both Owner and Rider of the Year titles. Dove’s sire JL Dash Ta Heaven finished on top as Sire of the Year, as well as Dove’s nominator, breeder and Mowry’s good friend Karma Loftin earning Nominator of the Year.
Dove has been on fire all week, running the second-fastest time of the event, a 14.998, to win the Open Finale on Wednesday for $13,125 after Mowry used the $150,000 Open Finale as a ‘warm-up race’ to try a different bit (read more below in Open recap). Dove returned in the Futurity Semifinals with a 15.171 to be the fourth-fastest qualifier to the Finals.
Mowry switched Dove’s bridle from the Dave Elliott Spur Up 02 that he’s run in all year to the Spur Up 04 with a long, sweeping gag action.
“It just softened his first step into every turn. That’s all I needed was a little softness going into his turns, because he’s learned to run a lot harder than he did back in November,” said EquiStat’s all-time winningest barrel racer after winning the Open. “I don’t need the shank — he does more on his own to prepare for the turn now. This bit was less rate and leverage and a little more softness. I felt like I didn’t have to handle him much at all. He felt comfortable, confident and tried really hard.”
The Dublin, Texas, professional trainer also finished in the top five of the Futurity Finals on 4-year-old gelding Force The Goodbye (The Goodbye Lane x VF Forcit First x Burrs First Down), owned by her fiance Michael Boone, clocking a 15.269 for fourth place and $28,000. Her derby horse CP He Will Be Epic (Epic Leader x Percilla x Dash Ta Fame) ran a 15.110 in the Derby Finals to finish third for $16,000.
Coming in at reserve champion in the Futurity Finale, Brittany Tonozzi rode homegrown 5-year-old mare Blazin Babe Olena (Blazin Jetolena x Streakin Six Babe x Streakin Six) to a 15.237 for a $60,000 payday.
—> Read more: Mowry and Boone’s Program
Jordon Briggs Wins $200,000 Breeders Challenge Derby Finale
FORT WORTH, TEXAS — September 17, 2022 — Famous Lil Jet just keeps delivering for the Briggs family, and the gelding’s most recent win came at a time when Jordon Briggs needed it most. The reigning Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Champion rode “Rollo” to the $50,000 win in the Breeders Challenge Derby Finale with the fastest time of the event, a 14.908, in a thrilling Derby Finals.
“It’s been tough to be the competitor that I needed to be this week with the passing of my father a couple weeks ago,” Jordon said on stage after the win. “I can always count on Rollo to be there when I’m not 100% there, and he always does his job.”
The Busby Quarter Horses-bred gelding by Dash Ta Fame and out of Blazin Black Beauty by Blazin Jetolena was one of the most dominant horses of the week in Fort Worth. He started off with a 15.250 in the Open Finale to place sixth for $2,625. He won the Derby Semifinals with a 15.129 and then came back with a bang in the Finals.
“He’s had a month off, and he felt really good in the Open, but he needed more runs to be sharp. He needs three or four runs back. It just worked out that we got to the short round, and then today you never know against all these great horses. Like any short round, you have to hit your spots and not be afraid to hit a barrel, make everything really tight, and he did it,” said Jordon, who was on her way to Colorado for her father’s funeral after the awards ceremony. “Thanks to the Breeders Challenge and everybody who puts this production on. It’s really nice to run at this kind of money, and we all really appreciate it.”
Amelia McCumber and Aint Seen Famous Yet finished second in the Derby Finale with a 15.040, worth $30,000. McCumber’s 2014 gelding is by Aint Seen Nothin Yet and out of A Nasty Chick by Its Royal Time.
Jada Haken Tops $120,000 Breeders Challenge Amateur Derby Finale
FORT WORTH, TEXAS — September 17, 2022 — Jada Haken rode 6-year-old gelding Namgis D 129 to the Breeders Challenge Amateur Derby championship, clocking a 15.563 for $14,400. The gelding by Bucks Hancock Dude and out of Charming Cartel by Corona Cartel is owned and nominated by Jada, Jana and Brett Haken.
“After my first run I went and worked him, got him soft in the ribcage. I was just trying to make a clean run, because he’s been hurt for two years,” Haken said on stage while accepting championship honors.
Mark Bugni Rocks Breeders Challenge $25,000 Senior Finale
FORT WORTH, TEXAS — September 17, 2022 — Futurity horse JL Roc Lost A Sock added yet another championship to his stellar year, topping the Breeders Challenge $25,000 Senior Finale for $5,312 with jockey and trainer Mark Bugni on board. The 5-year-old gelding is bred and owned by Jill Lane, by her stallion JL Sirocco and out of the Thoroughbred mare Reddy To Rebound by Red (TB) .
“Everywhere I’ve gone that horse has been the happiest camper in the world. He’s won 11 futurity average titles, he’s won more go-rounds I’d guess than any horse in history, and he’s currently at over $312,000 in earnings. This horse is the real deal, and he’s been solid from Day One until now,” Bugni told announcer Seth Roy on stage as he accepted championship honors. “He just made a really solid run today, very confident. He came down the alleyway quieter and calmer than he did [in the Semifinals], so he’s really matured into the whole program.”
Bugni is also qualified to the Breeders Challenge Finale Futurity Finals tonight at 7 p.m. CST. Though he’s never ran “Mo” twice in one day before, the Okemah, Oklahoma, trainer is confident in the gelding’s abilities.
“Honestly it doesn’t add any pressure. I kind of set it up this way — most people want to roll their time from one division to another and not have those two runs in a day, but this horse has proven to me the entire year he’s better on run No. 2, so all I can do is learn from that and hope it’s the right move. Sometimes you’ve got to step out there and take the chance,” Bugni said.
Kynzli Miller Clinches Breeders Challenge $15,000 Youth Finale Championship
FORT WORTH, TEXAS — September 17, 2022 — Young Kynzli Miller took care of business in the $25,000 Breeders Challenge Youth Finale on her horse Lil French Flirt, taking home the title for $3,187 in a fast 15.292.
“It felt really great. I was nervous going down the alleyway, so I had my stepdad help me going halfway down the alleyway. He told me to calm down and just let him go and do his job,” Kynzli said. “He’s cool, quick and catty. He’s very ornery! He loves his treats — I actually have some for him in my back pocket right now.”
The 11-year-old Illinois native has been riding her 2017 gelding by French Streaktovegas and out of her mother’s former barrel horse Lil Peppy Valentine, by Major Sam Peppy, for about six months. He was trained by Marne Loosenort and is a home-bred and family-raised horse that Kyznli and her family treasure.
“Him and Kynzli have been buddies since the day he was born. Our goal was always to have her run him one day, and it paid off,” Kynzli’s mom Brandy White said. “We do this as a family.”
The Breeders Challenge Youth Finale is the biggest victory Kynzli has ever accomplished.
“It was nerve-wracking!” Kynzli said of going up on stage to accept her awards and do the on-stage interview with Seth Roy. “I’m really proud of my horse.”
Ashley Schafer, Jordon Briggs Top Breeders Challenge Futurity and Derby Semifinals
FORT WORTH, TEXAS — September 15, 2022 — On Day Two of competition at the 2022 Breeders Challenge Finale, competitors vied for coveted positions inside the fastest 30 of the Futurity and Derby Semifinals to advance to the Finals on Saturday.
Ashley Schafer and her homebred, -raised and -trained 5-year-old mare Born On Derby Day (Freckles Ta Fame x KR Last Fling x A Streak Of Fling) put together their typical smooth-as-glass run to top a salty Futurity Semifinals in 15.115, narrowly besting second-place Kathy Grimes’ 15.124 on her homegrown 5-year-old mare KG Justiceslick (Slick By Design x KG Justiceweexpected x Judge Cash). Schafer rode four futurity horses in the Semifinals and qualified all four in the top 30 to the Futurity Finals — “Derby,” Swoon Ta Be Famous (15.277), French Streakof Fame (15.458), and Judges Heartbreaker (15.556).
The final qualifying futurity time was a 15.659, owned by DaCota Monk and Lucklustandpixiedust in 30th place.
Reigning Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Champions Jordon Briggs and Famous Lil Jet (Dash Ta Fame x Blazin Black Beauty x Blazin Jetolena) found themselves in the winner’s circle again, topping the Derby Semifinals with a 15.129. Carley Cervi was close on Briggs’ heels with a 15.138 aboard Slym Shady (Frenchmans Fabulous x SF Tiny Bit Of Fame x Dash Ta Fame).
The last Derby Finals qualifying hole at 30th went to Lindsey Sears on SME One Of A Kind with a 15.723.
Kassie Mowry and KL Touch Of Heaven Win Breeders Challenge Open Finale
FORT WORTH, TEXAS — September 14, 2022 — Kassie Mowry and her leading futurity horse so far of 2022, KL Touch Of Heaven, won the Breeders Challenge Open 1D Finale for $13,125 with a fast 14.998 to best 244 Open competitors.
Mowry had “Dove” qualified to both the Open and Futurity at the Breeders Challenge Finale. The EquiStat All-Time Leading Barrel Racer took the opportunity on the first day of competition in the Open to make a bit switch on the 4-year-old gelding, hoping to get his bridle set for the Futurity Semifinals tomorrow.
“I thought we’ll change bits for the Open, because I felt he’d have a hard time holding up against the Open horses to begin with. I thought [the Open] was too big, so we’ll focus on going against the horses his own age. But I think I’m gonna stick with that bit!” Mowry said with a laugh. “I’ve been wanting to [switch bits], but I don’t jackpot him, ever. I run him at big stuff, so this was a great opportunity to try something.”
Mowry has ran Dove in the same Dave Elliott Spur Up 02 since his debut last November as a juvenile colt, but as he’s gotten stronger throughout the futurity year, she knew it was time for a change. She switched to the Elliott Spur Up 04 with a long, curved gag to soften the beginning of Dove’s turns.
“It just softened his first step into every turn. That’s all I needed was a little softness going into his turns, because he’s learned to run a lot harder than he did back in November,” Mowry said of the Karma Loftin-bred colt by JL Dash Ta Heaven and out of Junior Country Girl by Deep Note Jr. “I don’t need the shank — he does more on his own to prepare for the turn now. This bit was less rate and leverage and a little more softness. I felt like I didn’t have to handle him much at all. He felt comfortable, confident and tried really hard.”
The trainer dominated the Open Finale, also placing fourth with a 15.074 on her 2022 NFR-qualifying Derby gelding Famous Ladies Man, 12th on Derby horse CP He Will Be Epic with a 15.427 and 19th in the 2D on futurity colt Sir Epic with a 15.687.
Mowry and her string will head back to nearby Dublin, Texas, to rest up at home for the Futurity and Derby Semifinals tomorrow.
“Luckily I’m close enough to drive back and forth, so he gets to sleep in his pasture tonight and really stretch out, rest and walk around. It takes a lot more time to drive back and forth, but they’ll rest better,” Mowry said. “He’ll definitely get the day off in between if I make the short go in the futurity; mostly let him relax. I may ride him to loosen him up, but I probably won’t take him around the barrels — I rarely do anyway, and if I do it’s a walk or trot.”
Of Note in the Open: Comanche, Texas, leading futurity trainer Ashley Schafer was equally dominant in the Open Finale, earning the reserve championship on 5-year-old futurity mare Born On Derby Day (Freckles Ta Fame x KR Last Fling x A Streak Of Fling) with a 15.017, worth $10,500. Schafer also finished ninth on Swoon Ta Be Famous with a 15.367, 14th on Famous Cash Can with a 15.483, and fifth in the 2D with a 15.572 on Judges Heartbreaker.
2022 Breeders Challenge Finale $150,000 Open Champions
1D: Kassie Mowry, KL Touch Of Heaven, 14.998, $13,125
2D: Kelly Bruner, Tufferenell, 15.513, $11,250
3D: Kylie Bowles, Slick A Lena, 16.009, $7,500
4D: McCall Manus, Uknowmydaddyisslick, 16.515, $5,625