Burger Claims the $100,000 at Calgary
Article and Photos by Deanna Kristensen
As the 2006 World Champion Barrel Racer Mary Burger, crossed the timers at the 2016 Calgary Stampede, the crowd attending Showdown Sunday, jumped up from their seats and roared – with deafening-excitement. The 67-year-old, fought through one of the muddiest Showdown Sunday performances on record, and claimed the largest check of her 31-year professional barrel racing career.
History has been made. Burger is now the oldest winner of the coveted $100,000 grand prize and explained that the excitement at the final go-round was electrifying.
“When I came up through that alleyway and they started cheering,” said Burger. “I thought… I hope this turns out!”
It certainly did! Burger and her 7-year-old buckskin gelding –SadieFamousLastWords a.k.a. “Mo” (Sadies Frosty Drift x Porky And Bess), crossed the timers and claimed a winning time of 17.99 seconds – in the midst of a thundering rainstorm, in Calgary. The champ said this astonishing victory, felt unreal.
“When I looked up at the clock and I saw he turned a 17… I thought oh my gosh, he did okay!”
The Pauls Valley, Okla., cowgirl said she had foreseen the challenging weather conditions that typically materialize at Calgary. However, she knew she had a tough horse that Moe could certainly handle the sloppy Stampede arena.
“I’d only run him in the mud a couple times, and basically I did it because I knew I was running here… and I knew it would rain!”
The 2012 World Champion Mary Walker, the 2015 Calgary Stampede Champion Lisa Lockhart and 2015 WNFR Qualifier Jackie Ganter, all sailed through the Stampede Long-Go, into the final $100,000 round. Walker and her great horse “Latte,” managed to claim the fastest time of 17.97 seconds in the first go-round. Walker had secured her position on Showdown Sunday, after winning the fastest time (17.94 seconds) on Wild Card Saturday.
For the 2016 Calgary Stampede Champion, it’s been a golden season. Burger qualified for Calgary, through RodeoHouston in March. And their $54,750 win from the NRG Stadium, had given them a lot of fuel early in the WPRA standings.
Burger and Mo can now rest easy, for the remainder of the 2016 WPRA season. After Calgary, this team now has a very safe first-place qualifying position for the WNFR, this December. The champ came into the Calgary Stampede, with over a $30,000 number-one lead, in the WPRA Standings. A whapping $72,000 of Burger’s whopping $122,000 Calgary Stampede payout, goes towards her position in the WPRA standings. And now – one decade after she claimed her World WPRA title – the 2006 World Champion, is certainly back in contention to claim a second world title, at the Thomas & Mack arena, in Las Vegas.