Brandon Cullins and MCM Imasharpguy take over the lead at RFD-TV’s The American Semifinals after Performance Two with a 13.402. Photo by Kenneth Springer

March 4, 2021 — Fort Worth, Texas — Brandon Cullins and MCM Imasharpguy took over the lead of RFD-TV’s The American Semifinals after turning in a time of 13.402 in Performance Two.

While unfamiliar with each other as partners, the two individuals are no strangers to Cowtown Coliseum. The Dunn Ranch-owned “Sharpie” previously held the arena record of 13.40 with his main jockey Stevi Hillman from a rodeo performance in November 2017. Hillman and Sharpie held that record until this year’s Semifinals barrel racing slack round, when Janna Brown and Hodge Farms’ DH Jess Stellar topped that with a 13.387.

Cullins is just as accustomed to sweeping the field inside the historic Fort Worth, Texas, coliseum after holding the previous RFD-TV’s American Semifinals record with a 13.523 aboard A Cornerstone and advancing to AT&T Stadium a total of four times in his career—2021 would mark the fifth.

It just seemed natural for Cullins and Sharpie to pair up and make strides together inside Cowtown Coliseum when Sharpie’s owners Matt and Bendi Dunn offered the superstar gray gelding to Cullins while A Cornerstone recovers from an injury.

All-time leading barrel racing earner Troy Crumrine campaigned the gelding by A Sharp Frenchman and out of the legendary Mulberry Canyon Moon during his futurity year after taking him over from Jolene Montgomery, who is credited for the beginning stages of Sharpie’s training.

As a 5-year-old, Sharpie found fame on the professional rodeo circuit with National Finals Rodeo barrel racer Hillman. In 2017 alone, the pair accomplished big wins like the Cheyenne Frontier Days championship, Sharpie’s first NFR qualification and more than $110,000 in earnings that year alone. Sharpie has gone on to earn more than $271,000 in Equi-Stat reported lifetime earnings, mostly from Hillman at professional rodeos and multiple NFR qualifications, and also from Crumrine from futurities and a stint of open races in 2019.

Cullins picked up Sharpie from Hillman only two weeks ago in preparation for The American and says he relied on advice from Hillman and Crumrine to learn the NFR horse’s style.

“He is who he is; I’m not gonna change anything about him,” Cullins said. “We got him a few weeks ago and started legging him up, and I called Troy and talked to Stevi and asked them what to do and put on what they told me to and did what they told me and went through the barrels. I mean, he’s a good one—a great one. You kind of just let him take over.”

Sharpie took over indeed in typical fashion once inside Cowtown. Cullins and the quick-footed gelding turned in a 13.724 in the Semifinals slack round to finish 18th and earn a spot in the performances. The Equi-Stat earner of more than $1.2 million opted out of taking the 9-year-old gelding through exhibitions prior to Monday’s slack round.

“I figured as much as he wants to turn he didn’t need to see them, and he had the arena record in here until Monday, so I figured he had it figured out,” Cullins said. “Before it started, I walked up on foot to remind myself how close the first barrel was. But that’s all we did.”

The strategy worked out as Cullins and Sharpie moved into the No. 1 position overall for a chance to advance to RFD-TV’s The American. Thursday night’s time of 13.402 brought the crowd to their feet inside Cowtown Coliseum as Cullins demonstrated his expert riding by reaching down to hold up two barrels on his way to the first-place time.

“[It felt] wild and fast. Like he knew where he was going. I think I let go of the reins at the second and the third to try to pick the barrels back up, and he put me right there. Those barrels are tricky to set up and not like the metal ones. They say they are the same, but I’m not convinced,” Cullins said with a laugh.

Cullins and Sharpie have to sit through 10 more runs in Friday’s final performance round before it’s official if their time will earn a qualification to AT&T Stadium, but the odds are in their favor. Cullins says he’s excited about the opportunity to run an experienced rodeo mount inside AT&T Stadium, especially Sharpie who excels in similar situations.

“It seems like no matter what it is and how the setup is [inside AT&T Stadium each year], the barrels are set off the walls. As much as he wants to turn and as much as Stevi won on him outside at those big rodeos, I think that’s his deal,” Cullins said. “This is the first time I’ve ever been on one that’s a real rodeo horse there, so I think he’ll handle that great. I mean, you’ve seen him at the NFR walking down the alleyway flat-footed. I don’t think he’s too worried. He’s pretty confident in his abilities.”

RFD-TV’S THE AMERICAN SEMIFINALS PERFORMANCE TWO RESULTS

  1. Brandon Cullins, MCM Imasharpguy, 13.402 
  2. Kassie Mowry, CP He Will Be Epic, 13.649 
  3. Sarah McCormick, Down Town Streakin, 13.716 
  4. Ilyssa Glass, Championofthehouse, 13.723 
  5. Troy Crumrine, Blazin Boss, 13.898 
  6. Cindy Patrick, Flitin N Dashin, 13.995 
  7. Sue Smith, Dashs Centerfold, 18.489* 
  8. Bailey Belcher, Pocket Coin Five, 18.581* 
  9. Bristan Kennedy, Copies Famous Saint, 18.907* 
  10. Jenny Born, Hot Lil Scooter, 24.395***

*denotes penalty

RFD-TV’S THE AMERICAN SEMIFINALS TOP 10 OVERALL

  1. Brandon Cullins, MCM Imasharpguy, 13.402 
  2. Taylor Smith, Cash Flow Depot, 13.573 
  3. Janna Brown, DH Jess Stellar, 13.649
  4. Kassie Mowry, CP He Will Be Epic, 13.649 
  5. Kassie Mowry, (Buy-Back) Epic Guy, 13.678 
  6. Shannon Lillard, LZK Dashus Rockstar, 13.702 
  7. Sarah McCormick, Down Town Streakin, 13.716 
  8. Ilyssa Glass, Championofthehouse, 13.723 
  9. Emily Wilkins, Chasin Easy Money, 13.815 
  10. Troy Crumrine, Blazin Boss, 13.898

The American Semifinals Buy-Back Round full results

The American Semifinals Slack Round Top 30 results

The American Semifinals Slack Round full results

Author

Kailey Sullins is editor of Barrel Horse News, and an avid barrel racer and breakaway roper. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

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