Barrel racing’s marquis futurity event of the year is finally here, as the Barrel Futurities of America World Championships comes to town in Guthrie, Oklahoma, at the Lazy E Arena from November 12–20, 2021.

Check back here with Barrel Horse News magazine and follow along on social media @BarrelHorseNews for BFA World Championships live updates, results, stories, videos from our friends at 3-2-1 Action Video, and more from the capstone futurity.

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Derby Finals draw

Futurity Finals draw

Notes for the Futurity Finals: Danyelle Campbell and Return Of The Mac enter the finals with the fastest qualifying time of 15.355 from winning the second go. Futurity first-go winners Andrea Cline and Pop The Bubbly improved their time with a 15.396 in the second go. Leslie Richards is also a heavy contender with a 15.386 on VF Design My Rocket. Though no one can be counted out in the finals, a few of the year’s winningest horses will also make their bids to take the title—Sharin Hall and Hello Stella are in with a 15.584; Latricia Mundorf and DM High Roller enter the finals with a 15.528; Kassie Mowry and Sand In My Socks have a 15.508; and Ms French Walla Walla and Hallie Hanssen have a 15.659. The championship is determined by an average of finals time and fastest go-round time.

Photos and stories by Blanche Schaefer

Juvenile Second Go-Round

*updated Nov. 20

With a 15.560, Craig Brooks rode his own 2018 gelding Nopressurenodiamonds to the win in the second round of the BFA World Championship Juvenile, earning $7,739. The gelding is by No Pressure On Me and out of JL Dash Ta Heaven daughter Heavens Sakes, a mare Brooks also trained and rode to much success. The time ultimately helped the team finish eighth in the average for $2,584.

Derby Second Go-Round

*updated Nov. 19

Blaise Bercegeay and Brian Wheeler standing with sorrel horse
Blaise Bercegeay won the second round of the BFA World Championship Derby on her 5-year-old gelding SBW Copy Cat, who was trained and raised by her boyfriend Brian Wheeler and his mom Stephanie Wheeler. Photo by Blanche Schaefer

After a fall in the first round, Blaise Bercegeay and her 5-year-old gelding SBW Copy Cat (Blazin Jetolena x SX Dr Peacharita x Dr Nick Bar) had some catching up to do. They came back in the second go and smoked a run for the new fastest time of the week, clocking a 15.256 to win the second round of the BFA World Championship Derby.

“He fell down at the second barrel the first go, so it made the pressure be on for the second round. I knew we only had one more chance, and you’re sitting there listening to everybody run right before, and the bubble to make the finals is changing with every horse. It’s so tough. I thought, ‘We’ve got to be clean and we’ve got to be real fast too. I think he heard me,” Bercegeay said with a laugh. “Get around the barrels was the main goal. I got a good first barrel, and all I could think about was get over there to the second barrel, and I almost got out of the saddle trying to get around it.”

“Copy Cat” was bred, raised and trained by Bercegeay’s boyfriend Brian Wheeler and his mother Stephanie Wheeler. The gelding had a successful futurity year in 2020 with Brian, with highlights such as the reserve championship at the Old Fort Days Futurity. Bercegeay took the reins this year and ultimately bought him for herself.

“I don’t know if it makes me look good or look bad, because I didn’t do that on him!” Brian said with a laugh. “He has never not made the finals anywhere with either of us so far.”

The gelding is out of the Wheelers’ great performing and producing mare SX Dr Peacharita, on whom Brian won the 2010 BFA World Championship Derby. Bercegeay and Copy Cat will now look to do the same in the derby finals Saturday.

“I love him, and I think I love him a little bit more each run,” Bercegeay said.

Watch the winning run here.

Futurity Second Go-Round

*updated Nov. 19

Danyelle Campbell with grey horse in wooded area
Danyelle Campbell won the second round of the BFA World Championship Futurity with a 15.355, worth $4,617, on FC Ranch’s 4-year-old gelding Return Of The Mac. Photo by Blanche Schaefer

Danyelle Campbell won Round Two of the BFA World Championship Futurity on Return Of The Mac (A Smooth Guy x Mackilts x Dash Ta Fame) with the fastest time of the week so far, a 15.355 for $4,617. The win was emotional for both Campbell as well as “Creed’s” owner and breeder, past National Finals Rodeo qualifier Felicia (Otis) Taylor of FC Ranch.

“I was really proud of him. I cried a little; so did his owner,” said Campbell, who’s been training for Taylor a little more than five years. “He’s a fun little guy. I take what he gives me, and I have a lot of confidence in him. Honestly, yesterday’s the worst first barrel he’s ever turned in his life. And it wasn’t bad necessarily, but I sent him for everything he had. I already made the short round, so my goal yesterday was to win the round. I didn’t know what was going to happen when I asked him for everything he’s got, but he stepped up and delivered.”

The 4-year-old gelding has already won more than $170,000 so far this year, despite time off due to a cannon bone fracture that took several months to present itself until the breaking point at Fort Smith in May.

“He actually got injured in February at the Royal Crown. We X-rayed him then, and nothing showed up. And no fault of the vet, we have an amazing vet team, but apparently the fracture started internally so he would have had to do a bone scan to detect it and possibly an MRI, so it was misdiagnosed and I continued to run him,” Campbell explained. “We didn’t know, but then he fractured his cannon bone in Fort Smith in my trial run—came out on three legs, non weight-bearing. He had surgery and has two screws in his ankle now. We weren’t sure how he would come back.”

Creed came back stronger than ever, winning more than $70,000 at the Pink Buckle in October and never looking back. Campbell says in hindsight, the injury has helped the two grow as a team.

“When it broke at Fort Smith it was a blessing in disguise, because it needed to break in order to find it. But since that happened, he matured with that injury and grew up a little,” she said. “My mindset with him changed, too. It was like, don’t ride him like a colt anymore, just go and accept what he gives me.”

Campbell is proud of all that the gelding has overcome to get the spotlight he deserves.

“He’s a very quirky little dude. The first time he ever got blanketed, he got his bottom jaw hooked on the strap, flipped himself over and we thought he broke his jaw. This was right before the BFA last year. He was in the slot race, and I couldn’t ride him with a bit because I couldn’t get one in his mouth. I hit all three barrels on him in the slot race,” Campbell laughed. “It’s been one thing after another, just quirky things like that. I told the owners, it’s amazing what a difference a year makes! They’re blessed to own him, and I’m blessed to be his person right now.”

Watch Danyelle’s run here.

Juvenile First Go-Round

*updated Nov. 18

Kassie Mowry standing with brown horse
Kassie Mowry rode Force The Goodbye to a 15.411 to win the first round of the BFA World Championship Juvenile for $7,339. Photo by Blanche Schaefer

“There’s moments where I’ve been like, ‘I feel like Sharin Hall right now on Hello Stella!’” Kassie Mowry said with a laugh about her ultra-consistent 3-year-old gelding Force The Goodbye, who has become the talk of the town as arguably the biggest juvenile standout of the week so far at the BFA World Championships.

He clocked a 15.490 in the first competitive run of his life to finish second in the SuperStakes for $35,000, and the very next day posted a 15.411 to win the first round of the juvenile for $7,739.

“I can’t even believe that. He just has blown my mind this week. I mean, I knew that he was a good horse, obviously, he was my slot horse, but really it was mentally I knew he would handle it better than the other ones. I didn’t expect he was going to win something, but he has,” Mowry said.

Surprisingly, the gelding didn’t have a great first exhibition inside the Lazy E Arena. Mowry says it wasn’t until the slot race horses got their own arena time the morning of the race that she started to feel confident in her mount.

“He’s just handled this so amazing and willingly and with confidence. But like in my exhibition, he was terrified. I almost couldn’t get him to the third barrel at a trot. It was not confidence-building. I was cringing,” the earner of more than $3.8 million admitted. “We got open arena for the slot horses and he got more comfortable, and for the slot race it was like he heard his name called and just rose to the occasion, and that doesn’t always happen.”

Though Mowry’s always believed in his talent, the young gelding’s mental fortitude under pressure during his first week of competition has been his biggest asset.

“I haven’t even done anything to keep him together,” she said. “I walked around the barrels; I don’t really work him much. I just keep him exercised and backed off the bit and listening. He doesn’t really have anything I have to get after him for.”

The 3-year-old gelding, owned by Mowry’s fiancé Michael Boone, is by The Goodbye Lane and out of VF Forcit First by Burrs First Down. Boone purchased him as a weanling from breeder Janelle Blubaugh in Oregon, and the kind and quiet gelding is lovingly known as “Jarvis” after The Goodbye Lane’s owners, the Jarvis family. He is the first The Goodbye Lane that Mowry has ridden.

“He is cool as a cucumber. Easy. Very user friendly, very kind, very sensible. He’s just a really good horse,” she said. “I just appreciate him. It is always nice when you have one that goes easy on you. He’s exceeded my expectations, that’s for sure. I thought, I’ll have a good, fun horse, and he’s like, ‘No, I will WIN.’”

Derby First Go-Round

*updated Nov. 17

Kyle Leleux standing next to gray horse
Kyle Leleux rode 5-year-old stallion Dollys Streaknbadger (A Streak Of Fling x TR Dashing Badger x Mr Illuminator) to win the first go-round of the BFA World Championship Derby with a 15.476 for $1,877. Photo by Blanche Schaefer

Kyle Leleux and Dollys Streakinbadger made it look easy in the first go-round of the Barrel Futurities of America World Championship Derby, easing out to a fast 15.476 to win the round for $1,877.

“He was super quiet going in. I was concerned that he didn’t know that we’re about to run barrels!” Leleux said with a laugh. “I smooched at him and woke him up as I was going down the alley and then let him do his thing. I never really ask him to go fast. I kind of just sit and go for a ride.”

The stallion by A Streak Of Fling and out of TR Dashing Badger by Mr Illuminator, affectionately known as “Bentley,” is a 5-year-old futurity horse this year. Because the BFA World Championship Futurity is restricted to 4-year-olds, Bentley is running in the derby at the BFA.

Going up against the more experienced derby horses didn’t faze Leleux because of the confidence he has in Bentley’s talent.

“Obviously I wish I could have ran against the futurity horses because it’s more money, but I wasn’t worried about it. I know he’s good. I know he can compete with any of the open horses, the derby horses or the futurity horses,” Leleux said. “We may not always win, but we’re going to be in the hunt.”

Watch Kyle’s run here.

Futurity First Go-Round

*updated Nov. 17

Watch Andrea Cline’s winning run here.

Andrea Cline standing with brown horse
Andrea Cline won the first go-round of the BFA World Championship Futurity on Alissa Flores’ 4-year-old gelding Pop The Bubbly (Furyofthewind x Champagne Fame x Dash Ta Fame) with a 15.465, worth $4,617. Photo by Blanche Schaefer

Andrea Cline rode Pop The Bubbly to the win with a 15.465 in Round One of the BFA World Championship Futurity, worth $4,617.

“He’s the perfect old lady horse, because he’s a gentleman on the day-to-day, and then he goes and does that in the arena,” Andrea Cline said with a laugh about Pop The Bubbly. “He’s 4, but he’s like a 14-year-old in that pattern. We got past our first barrel yesterday, but that was kind of me. I sit down in my saddle, and I was late. And I knew it, but it worked out.”

The gelding has been nothing short of a dream come true for the professional horse trainer based in Springtown, Texas.

“He’s a dream horse. He is the closest thing to perfect I’ve ever ridden,” Cline said. “Overall, he’s easy. But as easy as he is, that can be really hard, because you’ve got to relinquish that control to a certain point.”

Cline says Pop The Bubbly’s ability to clock effortlessly fits her signature style of riding quietly and letting her horses run out from underneath her.

“These are the types of horses I get along with the best, because they run so fast. I can never beat a horse. I don’t even try to beat a horse. There’s no way I can. So I set their footsteps up from the beginning and have them travel collected, and from there it’s up to them,” she said. “This whole year, it’s been his idea to clock so well. I have never asked him. I’ve never called on him. I know it’s there, so I don’t have to ask him for his life.”

The gelding, previously owned by Cline and Lee Pedone but recently sold to Alissa Flores, is by Furyofthewind and out of Champagne Fame by Dash Ta Fame. Furyofthewind offspring went two-for-two in the first day of aged-event competition at the BFA World Championships, as Leslie Willis later won the SuperStakes (see below) aboard the 3-year-old Furyofthewind gelding Im Gunnin For Ya.

Interestingly, Todd Matte has a connection to both winning geldings.

“Todd Matte owned both those horses,” Cline explained. “They both were at the track. And I love this part, and I kind of make fun—I don’t know the racehorse trainer, but the trainer told Todd, ‘Those horses can’t run.’ And I laughed; I’m like the two horses that can’t run and got kicked out are the ones that won on the first day. Todd was like, ‘I’ll be damned!'”

SuperStakes Slot Race

*updated Nov. 16

Never—ever—count Leslie Willis out of a high-stakes situation. At draw No. 50 of 60, the veteran futurity trainer made history as the first person in Barrel Futurities of America history to win the SuperStakes slot race three times, clocking a 15.370 on 3-year-old gelding Im Gunnin For Ya (Furyofthewind x Senorita Seis x Tres Seis) to bag $100,000 for a heck of a birthday present.

Leslie Willis holding a big check
Leslie Willis re-wrote the BFA World Championship books in 2021 as the first person in BFA history to win the SuperStakes slot race three times—in 2007 on Bet Or Check, in 2019 on The Midnite Express, and in 2021 with a 15.370 on Im Gunnin For Ya. Photo by Blanche Schaefer

“We’ve been hauling him and exhibitioning him, but we brought him in yesterday and he was real look-y, wasn’t paying attention and I was really worried,” Willis admitted. “This morning, I was the first one in the arena when our time slot was ready so I could be the first one going through. I let him see the atmosphere that he was going to see tonight. He’s actually not clocked until tonight. He’s been about anywhere from half a second to seven-tenths off everywhere we took him, and I think the crowd tonight when they screamed, it pushed him on across the pen. That’s where he’s lacked a bit of his speed.”

Willis took the lead from fellow veteran futurity competitor Kassie Mowry’s 15.490 on Force The Goodbye, which put four-tenths on the rest of the field at the time. Ironically enough, Mowry also could have made history tonight as the first three-time SuperStakes champion. The two have battled it out closely—Mowry claimed SuperStakes titles in 2008 and 2020, and Willis in 2007 and 2019, and now, 2021.

“I tell everybody, it’s either your night or it’s not your night, and that’s the way the slot races work. And it’s been a wonderful blessing three times now,” Willis said, adding thanks to her sponsors Classic Equine and Cox Veterinary Lab for their support in keeping her horses outfitted in top-of-the-line gear as well helping them stay healthy and feeling good.

Watch the video of Leslie Willis’ winning run here.

Pro Series Tack $2,500-added High Roller Open Stakes Race

*updated Nov. 15

Hello Stella is just getting warmed up for the BFA World Championship Futurity with a win early in the week, clocking a 15.422 to win the High Roller Open Stakes Race.

The 4-year-old mare, who is by The Goodbye Lane and out of Go Go Fame by Dash Ta Fame, is one of the biggest futurity contenders of the year and has already won well over $400,000 for owner, breeder and rider Sharin Hall.

Sharin Hall and Hello Stella win BFA High Roller Open Race.

Sunday Open Nov. 14

Sunday Open 1D Champion—Janet Staton on 2014 gelding Chargin Ta Fame (Dash Ta Fame x Charge A Moon x Bully Bullion), 15.580, $1,776

2D: Suzanne Brooks/Fortune N Fame/ 16.101/$1,523; 3D: Kylie Brueggeman/Fames Dash To Vegas/16.596/$1,015; 4D: Devon Robinson/Happy B N Me/17.089/$761

Janet Staton and Chargin Ta Fame won the Sunday Open at the BFA World Championships with a 15.580, worth $1,776. Video courtesy 3-2-1 Action Video

Saturday Open Nov. 13

Saturday Open 1D Champion—Dr. Rob Blohowiak, DVM, on 2012 mare Glorygloryhallelujah (Stratospheric x Tejereta x Coup De Kas (TB)), 15.425, $1,432

2D: Candace Stephens/Torch Of San Lena/15.953/$1,228; 3D: Rass Pederson/California Cash 37; 4D: Haylee Layman/Frenchmansfamouslady/16.958/$614

BFA Saturday Open 1D champion Rob Blohowiak on Glorygloryhallelujah ran a 15.425 for $1,432. Video courtesy 3-2-1 Action Video

Blanche Schaefer is an avid barrel racer and managing editor of Barrel Horse News. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

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