The 2023 Breeders Challenge Championship Finale is off and running in Fort Worth, Texas, from September 13–16, and Barrel Horse News has got all the updates, results and stories on the winners.
—> Find complete 2023 Breeders Challenge results here
—> Read more: The Story Behind the Breeders Challenge
DaCota Monk and TNR Wannaseemycancan Win Sixth Futurity Title of 2023 with Breeders Challenge Futurity Championship
SEPTEMBER 16, 2023 — FORT WORTH, TEXAS — With a 15.797 in a thrilling Saturday night futurity finals, DaCota Monk won his first career Breeders Challenge Futurity championship and added a sixth futurity title on the year for 4-year-old mare TNR Wannaseemycancan (Eddie Stinson x Chase This Ivory x Ivory James). The win added $78,200 for owner Suzonne Franks to the mare’s current EquiStat earnings north of $232,700.
“It’s the most money we’ve won combined at one show,” Monk said. “It means a lot; I’ve always loved this event. Ever since Kassie won [last year] and then Sharin [the first year in 2021], I knew this mare could win it. She deserves that. She loves [running barrels] as much as me.”
The pair started their week in the Open Finale, clocking a 15.899 but downing the third barrel. Monk and “Cancan” came back in the Futurity Semifinals with a 15.924 to tie for fourth and earn a place in Saturday’s finals.
A few adjustments in exhibitions and as a jockey had Cancan sharp on Saturday night — so sharp that she still pulled off the win, even after an equipment malfunction.
“A couple months ago, she’d gotten super rate-y at the second, and I had to really ride her over there. She’s changed a bit the last couple runs and is pretty free up into second, so I’ve actually had to let her in there. [In the Semis], she went to her old self and we barely got around it. I knew I had to ride aggressive to the second in the finals,” Monk said. “In the finals, my outside rein came unclipped; I saw it fly on the backside of the second. I had to ride her all the way to her spot at the third with one hand, and she’s so honest, but it still scared me.”
The two ran as the second gunners in the field of 30 in the finals, and though several came close — Brittany Tonozzi clocked a 15.807 on Tres Chasin Babe PZ to ultimately finish reserve for $47,600 — Cancan’s lead held throughout the night.
Cancan is coming off a few weeks of well-deserved rest. Monk says while it can be hard to get off a horse on a hot winning streak, he knows the decision paid off not just with a big win in Fort Worth but a healthy, happy horse.
“After this weekend, we don’t get off until December. She was entered at the Cornhusker and then straight to Fizz Bomb [the first two weeks of September], and there’s a lot of money to be won there, but it really was best to leave her home. My sister continued to keep her legged up for me, so we saved her for all these big shows,” Monk said. “It was really hard to leave her home, but I’m glad I did. And I may be corny, but I knew she’d look really good with the roses around her neck.”
Kassie Mowry Goes 1-2 in Breeders Challenge Open Derby Finale
SEPTEMBER 16, 2023 — FORT WORTH, TEXAS — EquiStat all-time winningest barrel racer Kassie Mowry added a second Breeders Challenge Derby title and fourth overall Breeders Challenge title to her impressive resume, jockeying Force The Goodbye to the No. 1 spot with a 15.521 for $48,875 and also riding Derby Semifinals round winner CP He Will Be Epic to the reserve championship in 15.655 for $29,750. Last year’s Breeders Challenge Futurity and Open 1D champion KL Touch Of Heaven came in at fifth with a 15.758, worth $12,750.
Mowry’s total winnings in Fort Worth came to $114,431 thanks to one of the strongest classes of derby horses she’s ran in her career.
Force The Goodbye, affectionately known as “Jarvis” after the owners of his sire The Goodbye Lane, is a 5-year-old gelding out of VF Forcit First by Burrs First down and is owned by Mowry’s fiance Michael Boone. He started the week strong, finishing second in the Open Finale with a 15.728. He clocked a 16.066 in the Derby Semifinals to sneak into the Finals in the 23rd spot of 30 and ultimately saved the best for last.
“It goes a long way for me with my confidence. Riding so many colts is very humbling, and a lot of times you’re not making a whole lot of progress or are staying idle in your program, which is sometimes necessary. It’s a lot of fun for me to get on and feel the end result; it’s all worth it. It helps keep me sharp as a competitor to have horses like that around,” Mowry said after Jarvis won the Royal Crown Derby in Rock Springs, Wyoming, the month prior.
Jarvis has always been one of Mowry’s most reliable horses. He earned $318,470 in EquiStat reported earnings his 2022 futurity year, capped by a BFA World Championship Futurity title.
As a derby horse, Mowry says he’s developed to do more on his own in a run. The gelding has had an incredible derby year and now boasts EquiStat earnings in excess of $500,000.
“I don’t have to be right over him doing everything for him. He’s started initiating the turn more on his own and getting on his hind end better going in. I haven’t had to set him up; he sets himself up now and I can just one hand on the reins and go,” Mowry said. “He honestly feels like he’s loping. Every time I run him, I’m like, ‘Jarvis, you’ve got to go,’ but it’s his big stride. He doesn’t have any little quick strides; he just has the same rhythm and never quits moving forward. He doesn’t make a huge mistake. He’s not one to do something random; he’s pretty predictable.”
Read more below about Mowry’s reserve champion “Will.”
Rylee Leach Earns Breeders Challenge Amateur Derby Title
SEPTEMBER 16, 2023 — FORT WORTH, TEXAS — Rylee Leach rode her sister’s horse Smooth N Heavenly to a $11,322 payday, posting a 15.812 in the Breeders Challenge Amateur Derby Finals to win the championship.
“This is my first time running in the Amateur Derby, and I was extremely grateful they offered it. It’s fun to take some stress off running against the pros,” Rylee said. “I want to thank Lainie Whitmire and Jade Ford for this awesome event. It’s my favorite all year. It’s so first-class, and fun to take a break from the boots and jeans with the draw party. I’m so grateful for that and grateful for my family, and most of all God for allowing us to be out here and do what we love with the horses we love.”
She’s also thankful for her special partner, though she’s only been riding the gelding for four months for her sister Shea Lynn Leach McConnell, who stepped off during pregnancy.
“It was kind of the struggle bus for a bit, but he tries. He’s a very sensitive horse, so I just try to keep him happy at home. He goes out there and performs and that’s all I can ask of him,” Rylee said of the 2015 Jolene Montgomery-trained gelding by JL Dash Ta Heaven and out of Smooth My Credit by Cash Not Credit. “He fits his name, Smooth N Heavenly. He never looks like he’s running, but he is smooth and fast.”
The pair started their week with a 15.866, which finished sixth overall in a tough Derby Semifinals field. Leach tightened the screws for the finals, and he delivered.
“In the Semifinals, he kind of stepped off the first. He was still fast, but I knew he could be faster,” she explained. “In the finals, I just went for it. I sent him in there pretty hard and really made sure that he finished first. He did exactly what I asked. He’s a really solid, consistent horse. I’m proud of him for coming back.”
Taylor Hildreth and JH Single Lady Win Breeders Challenge Futurity Semifinals
SEPTEMBER 15, 2023 — FORT WORTH, TEXAS — With a smoking 15.590, Colorado-based futurity trainer Taylor Hildreth jockeyed 2018 mare JH Single Lady for owners Ryan and Timi Lickley to the top of the leaderboard by three tenths in the 2023 Breeders Challenge Futurity Semifinals. The two handily earned high-callback in the top 30 of the Semis for tomorrow’s Open Futurity Finals.
By leading sire The Goodbye Lane, JH Single Lady is out of Oh La Stel by Stel Corona. She was bred and raised by Josie Hales, daughter of Mark and Linda Jarvis, who own The Goodbye Lane, and her husband Jarrod Hales.
Kassie Mowry and CP He Will Be Epic Top Breeders Challenge Derby Semifinals
SEPTEMBER 15, 2023 — FORT WORTH, TEXAS — No surprises here — Kassie Mowry and 2015 gelding CP He Will Be Epic (Epic Leader x Percilla x Dash Ta Fame) posted the fastest time so far of The Breeders Challenge, clocking a 15.559 in the John Justin Arena to win the Derby Semifinals. The two punched their ticket as the fastest of the top 30 in the Semis to advance to the Open Derby Finale on Saturday afternoon.
Mowry is a three-time Breeders Challenge champion — she won the inaugural Open Derby in 2021 aboard Epic Guy, and in 2022 she and KL Touch Of Heaven won both the Open Futurity and Open 1D Championship. The Dublin, Texas, professional barrel horse trainer and EquiStat all-time leading rider of more than $5.6 million is already having a strong 2023 in Fort Worth. She finished as the Open Finale reserve 1D champion last night on 5-year-old Force The Goodbye (The Goodbye Lane x VF Forcit First x Burrs First Down) with a 15.728, worth $14,875.
She says Will and “Jarvis” are actually fairly similar to run.
“Both those horses are pretty easy and real light through the pattern. They are very consistent and take up for me. If I make a wrong move, they’re not ones to take advantage of that at all. They know what they’re supposed to go in there and do, and it’s just a lot of fun for me,” Mowry said after having success on both geldings at the Royal Crown event the month prior in Rock Springs, Wyoming. “They’re both really long-strided, honest horses. They really give me a good shot every time.”
It’s a safe bet to say that Will, an EquiStat earner in excess of $480,000, will be a strong contender for his own Breeders Challenge title in his last derby year.
2023 Breeders Challenge Championship Finale Open 1D Champion Britta Strain and Golden Cloud
SEPTEMBER 14, 2023 — FORT WORTH, TEXAS — Texas A&M University student and rodeo team athlete Britta Strain and her 2015 mare Golden Cloud (Dash Ta Fame x Rosas Cantina CC x Corona Cartel) started out hot on the first day of Breeders Challenge Finale competition, clocking a 15.609 in the John Justin Arena to win the Breeders Challenge Open Finale.
The big check of $18,593 marked the biggest win of Strain’s and her special young mare’s career so far. The pair edged reserve champions Kassie Mowry and Force The Goodbye’s 15.728, which earned $14,875.
“This is a really long time coming, holy moly,” Strain said through happy tears after waiting out the 249th run of the day after running early at draw 67. “She’s the biggest blessing from God; the doors that He’s opened for me on that horse are just crazy.”
Strain has mainly rodeoed on the mare and says it was a nice reprieve to attend a big divisional event and run on footing she could trust. She qualified for the Breeders Challenge Finale at the Royal Crown event in Oklahoma City in May and will be running in the Derby this weekend as well.
“It’s her last derby year, and this is so fun for me because it’s ground that I’m not freaking out about, because at rodeos you don’t know what you’re going to get,” Strain said. “I knew as long as I got my first barrel that everything else was good. Ironically enough, I watched Hailey Kinsel at Dodge City and she stayed off Sister (DM Sissy Hayday) until right before she ran. I thought maybe that would work for me. I get nervous, and I didn’t want that to translate into her. I stayed off her until the person right before me ran. She was just a dream and is amazing. I feel like she could go even faster.”
Golden Cloud, bred and raised by Alan Woodbury, is sure bred to run fast, by all-time leading barrel racing sire Dash Ta Fame and out of the legendary Woodbury mare Rosas Cantina CC, ridden by Lisa Lockhart to pro rodeo stardom such as National Finals Rodeo go-round wins and a Calgary Stampede title.
Strain purchased the mare as a 2-year-old on a trip to Woodbury’s to check out a different horse, and the two have been a fit ever since.
“I saw her tied to the fence and thought she was perfect. I got on her, and it was her first ride with somebody else. She futuritied with Lynn Kohr in 2020 during COVID, so she didn’t get to go to that many,” Strain said. “I’ve gotten to be a part of every step of her training. I would fly up to Lynn’s and go ride all throughout, so when I got her, it really wasn’t any different. She is so honest it’s crazy, and so forgiving, especially since she’s still a young horse in the rodeos.”
Strain, who graduates in December with a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a minor in bio medical engineering, almost didn’t attend the event because of her demands at school. At the time of the interview before the awards ceremony, she wasn’t certain how much she had won, but she is certain she’s glad to have made the trip from College Station to Fort Worth.
“This is absolutely huge. I won my college rodeo region on her, which was amazing because it was my first big win on her at the time, and I don’t know how much money I won today but this is definitely the most money,” Strain said with a laugh. “She’s the biggest blessing. I had a lot of trials, and that horse just came and turned my whole life around.”
—> Read more: 2022 Breeders Challenge Finale Results