March 4, 2022 — FORT WORTH, TEXAS — We first saw the 2016 sorrel stallion RF Back For The Cash run down the alleyway inside the Cowtown Coliseum on February 25 during The American Semifinals Preliminary round with owner-rider Fonda Melby and turn in a 13.696 to finish 10th out of a field of 294. Melby and “Heatwave” advanced to the Semifinals performance rounds and ran again inside the small setup in Fort Worth during Performance 2, where they unfortunately hit a barrel and did not advance to the Contender Round.
However, RF Back For The Cash made a third trip down the alleyway inside the historic Cowtown Coliseum, and he indeed came back for the cash this time with Women’s Professional Rodeo Association invitee Molly Otto.
“It was the first time I’ve ever been on him,” Otto said. “I literally warmed him up and made a run—I’d never taken him around a barrel or even sat on him any other time.”
Otto and Heatwave were 10th out in the draw and came in gunning for the win. They posted a 13.576 to take the lead from Hailey Kinsel’s 13.623 on DH Jess Stellar, on whom Janna Brown holds the Cowtown Coliseum arena record.
“My game plan was just to go have fun. I’m just going to go for it and it’s going to work out however it’s going to work out,” Otto said. “I knew he was capable—he’s clocked in this pen multiple times with Fonda—so I felt like I had a good chance if I could get around the barrels on him. Ryan (Melby) told me to keep his feet moving through the turns and just go for it, so that’s basically what I was thinking, just keep going forward.”
Otto, who earned her berth to The American Contender Round via a top-10 finish in the 2021 WPRA world standings, picked up $3,000 for her win Friday night. The Grand Forks, North Dakota, resident will advance to The American on Sunday, March 6, inside AT&T Stadium, and at this point plans to stay aboard Heatwave.
The top 10 from the Contender Round advance to Sunday inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for an elimination round followed by the shootout round with the Final Four determined by their aggregate time of their first two runs (the Contender Round and the elimination round in AT&T Stadium), will move on to the ShootOut round, where the champion and reserve Champion will be determined in a clean-slate finals.
The champion will win $100,000 and the reserve champion will win $25,000. In the case that the champion came from the Semifinals, they will join the group of other event champions qualifying through the Semifinals to split the $1 million bonus prize.
American Contender Round Barrel Racing Results (Top 10 Advance)
Rank, Rider Name, Horse Name, Time, Earnings
- Molly Otto, RF Back For The Cash, 13.576, $3,000
- Hailey Kinsel, DH Jess Stellar, 13.623, $2,250
- Oceane Veilleux, Heavens Guy, 13.675, $1,000
- Laura Mote, Reb Hot Redbull, 13.680, $500
- Tasha Welsh, Seis Smashin Fame, 13.690
- Amanda Welsh, Miss Smart Dash, 13.716
- Devin Young, Jettin To Docs Bar, 13.743
- Shelley Morgan, HR Fameskissandtell, 13.751
- Jordon Briggs, Famous Lil Jet, 13.820
- Charlie Johnson, Phoenixonthecimarron, 13.840
- (tie) Kassie Mowry, Epic Guy, 13.877
- (tie) Sarah Rose Waguespack, Roses Roan Ranger, 13.877
- Kellie Collier, Positively Streakin, 14.063
- Dona Kay Rule, High Valor, 18.462*
- Wenda Johnson, Macgyver Moonflash, 18.652*
- Marne Loosenort, Lovin Fame, 18.839*
- Ivy Saebens, KN Streak N Fabulous, 18.983*
- Stevi Hillman, Cuatro Fame, 19.078*
- Emily Miller Biesel, Namgis D 33, 19.324*
- Rita Cheeney, Smokin Gold Too, 19.400*
- Wylee Mitchell, Smokey Gold Jack, 21.356