Chloe Gray and 5-year-old mare Designer Rockette bested more than 1,500 runs to secure the top spot at the 2022 Spring Showdown Barrel Race in Perry, Georgia, from May 12-15. The pair qualified back to the Finals in the first round, running a 14.640 to place eleventh amongst a tough field. In the Finals, the 2017 daughter of Designer Red stepped up her effort and turned in a 14.310, ultimately earning $5,047 and the Open championship.
For Gray, taking the win aboard “Broadway” was a welcome surprise.
“At the time of the Finals, she was my sleeper,” Gray shared. “She wasn’t the best bullet in my gun. She’s a young mare, and we were just trying to season her, so I wasn’t putting a whole lot of pressure on her.”
Despite Broadway’s lack of experience, the mare laid down a stellar run for Gray during the Finals round.
“She was really sharp on the first barrel. She was flying to the second barrel, and she was so smooth and snappy around it. When she went to the third, she was running so hard, and when she snapped back around it, she had the whole tail swish and everything,” Gray said with a laugh. “Every turn was in and out, and she hustled hard.”
Gray fell in love with barrel racing as a young child when she started attending the annual rodeo in her hometown of Macon, Georgia.
“My dad has had horses all his life, but [that rodeo] sparked my interest in barrel racing. I was 8 years old when I started. Way back then, I would cry if my pony started trotting. I’ve come a long way,” Gray said with a laugh.
Gray, who took in her first outside training horse at age 16, now trains horses full time in addition to helping run a breeding facility. Broadway is one of several horses that she has in training for owner Rob Bondurant.
“I actually just got this mare in training in January,” Gray explained. “She was started and hauled a little. She was exhibitioning as a 4-year-old but didn’t have many competition runs—she is just starting to peak and find her style now.”
Gray says the mare’s style is what allows her to be a tough competitor.
“She’s a little bit stiffer, so she can be straight in and straight back out. She doesn’t waste any steps, so that’s where she makes up all her time,” Gray said.
In addition to her quick turn style, Gray likes the mare’s easy-going personality.
“She’s a super kind mare,” Gray said. “She’s just nice. Her demeanor is one of my favorite things about her. She’s very loving, pretty chill and there’s no drama.”
Gray thanks owner Rob Bondurant for the opportunity to ride for him, her family for their steadfast support, and—above all else—God.
“I’m just so grateful to God for allowing me to do this,” Gray said. “I’m thankful that I’m healthy enough to do this job, and that I get to do what I love every day.”
2022 Spring Showdown Barrel Race Open Finals Winners
- 1D—Chloe Gray on Designer Rockette, 14.310, $5,047
- 2D—Madi Jones on Downtown Cashbrown, 14.812, $4,326
- 3D—Donna Daughtry on High Bonus Ronas, 15.312, $2,884
- 4D—Deena Lowery on Spicy, 16.318, $2,163
For complete results, visit saddlebook.com.