By: Katie Navarra

AY6A8741 Kricket Ginter 1 webKricket Gintner amd Dial A Little Fame taking the win and the new arena record in the Slot Race. Photo by Al BraunworthEntering the alleyway at the Minnesota Equestrian Center, Kricket Gintner of Eau Claire, Wisconsin knew she and Dial A Little Fame, “Jax”, had to run their hardest. Prior contestants in the Horse Hair Analysis Slot Race, held during the DeKalb Fall Classic had already turned in clean, fast runs.

On course she sensed a good time in the making, but had no idea it was fast enough to win the event. “I got more determined with each turn,” she said.

Stopping the clock in 14.562, she quickly learned it was not only fast enough to win, but it was also a new arena record. “I never thought in a million years it was going to be an arena record!” she said, “when I saw the time and heard the announcer, I right away looked for my mom. I knew she would be running out to the holding pen to meet me.”

The weekend was profitable for the team. The slot race paid $1,827 adding to the $265 paycheck for a fifth place finish in Friday’s Open 1D. Winning the Open 1D on Sunday in 14.727 added $1,185 to their paycheck.

“Even though he’s technically easy to ride, at the same time it makes me super nervous to run him because I know his potential and I don’t want to mess up the run,” she said, “it’s a pleasure to put a proud, happy smile on my mom’s face. I know she wants nothing more than for my sister and me to succeed.”

Hauling to barrel races, is whole family event. Her husband, Mike, and 3-year-old son, Braham, ride as well. In the near future, their 7-month-old daughter, Morley, will join the racing team. “It is definitely not easy trying to make all the rodeos with a family, so that is why we did more picking and choosing which ones we could make work,” she said.

She acknowledges success on the circuit isn’t without Mike’s support and the support of her father, her grandparents and her sister, who all help with the kids when needed.
“A supportive family is definitely a necessity at home. I also couldn’t do it without my mom who is an amazing hauling partner,” she said.

The DeKalb Fall Classic
Hosted by SC Productions, LLC, owned by Shawn and Casey Varpness, the DeKalb Fall Classic Barrel Race Futurity and Derby paid out more than $84,000 in prize monies, September 25-27, 2015. Racers also received saddles, trophy buckles and an assortment of other awards. Each fall, the event is held at the Minnesota Equestrian Center in Winona, Minnesota.

Contestants like the event because of the diverse race options, which range from futurity and derby events to pole bending, to open barrels, a slot race, sidepots and pee wee races.

Known for its motto, “Expect the Unexpected”, riders look forward to the unique atmosphere which pairs rock ‘n’ roll music with the traditions of sport. The Varpness family blends the essentials of barrel racing with a touch of Hollywood glam to provide participants of all abilities a memorable experience.

Futurity race
AY6A1528 Hilary Swanson webHilary Swanson aboard Saltybug tallied the fastest 1D futurity average taking home $1,737. Photo by Al BraunworthFirst time attendee Hilary Swanson from Mendota Heights, Minnesota, finished big in the futurity race. Clocking a 14.909 in her first go and a 14.961 in her second go, she tallied the fastest 1D futurity average. The finish aboard Saltybugz earned her $1,737.

“Her first run was her better run, the ground there is deep and she favors that,” Swanson said, “we got a bit by the first barrel, which cost us a little time, but we still held onto the average.”

The mare’s racing career started later than usual due to unforeseen circumstances. The now 5-year-old by Famous Bug, is making up for lost time. “Even though she sat for a little while she is holding her own,” Swanson added.

Since the event in late September, she has since been sold. “She’s with her new owners now and hopefully they’ll have a lot of success together,” she said.

The top 2D futurity slot went to Shawn Varpness, Rochester, Minnesota, and SC Raising The Bar. The pair sat in fourth place after the first go when they clocked 16.072 and earned $145. Moving up to third during the second go with 16.05, earning $193, it was fast enough to cinch the average win, which paid an additional $579.

A total of 51 entries participated in the race. Each of the two-gos paid $2,413 and the average paid out $4,827.

AY6A1122 Kim Chesmore webConsistent runs in both derby go’s set Kim Chesmore and BV Take My Wagon up for the 1D Average win. Photo by Al BraunworthConsistent runs in both derby go’s set Kim Chesmore and BV Take My Wagon up for the 1D Average win. “She’s fast. She makes up her time running,” Chesmore said.

Chesmore of Independence, Iowa, purchased the now 6-year-old mare three years ago from the Heritage Sale in Oklahoma City and did all the training herself. “Her sire, PYC Paint Your Wagon, caught my attention,” she said, “she’s turned out to be a really sweet horse.”

A 15.036 in the first go paid $337, a 15.075 in the second tallied the fastest 1D time. Her average 30.111 paid $673.

The top 2D derby honors went to Michelle Bagniewski of Arcadia, Wisconsin. Aboard Jewels Frosted Charm, she finished second in the first go with a 15.716 claiming $135. The winning 2D average time was 31.277, which paid $449.

A total of 30 entries raced in the Derby. Each go paid out $1,122 and the average paid out $2,244

Senior and Youth riders had opportunities to win sidepots each day.

Posting the fastest senior time of the weekend, Jan Bell from Dubuque, Iowa won the Friday Senior Sidepot in 14.848 aboard Roan Bar Rocket. “When he gets a really good second barrel like he did in that race, he clocks his fastest times,” she said.

They also finished third in the Horse Hair Analysis Slot Race, posting a 14.778, earning $1,197.

“Winning these races holds a special meaning for the two of us,” she said, “he was my late husband, Dave’s, horse. I’ve taken over riding him and we’ve formed a bond.”

The Saturday and Sunday Senior Sidepots went to Ronda Potts from Boone, Iowa with Miss Skippy Blankus in She clocked 14.945, collecting $148 and 14.864 for $133, respectively.

Posting the fastest youth times of the weekend, Ellie Johanson, St. Michael, Minessota, won the Youth Sidepots on both Friday and Saturday. Racing against 44 entries, she clocked a 14.817 earning $127 on Friday.

As the gelding trotted into the alley for their Friday run, Johanson sensed it was going to be a good run. Then, when they nailed the first barrel she knew if she could keep all three barrels standing she would post fast times. “It was a great run,” she said, “Boon (LB Boon) really likes that pen.

Saturday’s entries increased to 67. She stopped the clock in 14.838 for another $246.

The Peptoboonsmal bred gelding was intended to be a cutting horse. “I fell in love with his disposition and his roan color,” she said.

She bought the horse three years ago and trained him to run barrels herself. “He’s extremely fast, even though he shouldn’t be because of his bloodlines,” she said, “he’s quick with his turns and he’s level-headed.”

The quick-footed team won the Open 1D on both Friday and Saturday adding $1,840 to their weekend earnings.

The Youth Sidepot on Sunday went to Alexis Baratke and Queen Red Cash, “Lucy”, from Phillips, Wisconsin. Running a 14.942 earned them $237. A total of 63 entries vied for a share of $1,695.
“Lucy is a machine, any ground, any pen, she works hard,” Baratke said.

In addition to winning the Youth sidepot on Sunday, they finished seventh in Friday’s Open 1D in 15.16 for $177. In the Saturday Open race they tipped a barrel, but came back in the Horse Hair Analysis Slot finishing in 14.969 just outside the money. They also finished fifth in the Open 1D on Sunday in 14.942 adding another $561 to their weekend winnings.

“Although a run may not go as planned there will always be one positive thing about the run,” she said, if I tip a barrel or don’t have the run I planned, I make myself say one positive thing before I say anything else.”

Pee Wee
AY6A1748 Jazilyn Buys webThe fastest Pee Wee contestant of the weekend was Jazilyn Buys and Love N Nicki. Photo by Al BraunworthThe fastest Pee Wee contestant of the weekend was Jazilyn Buys and Love N Nicki. The 9-year-old from Minnesota ran a 13.844 earning her $13. She also finished first in Sunday’s Pee Wee run in 17.012 adding another $13 to her winnings.

“As long as she leaves the barrels standing she’s fast,” said her mom, Casey. “Her horse has taught her to ride. He’s not automatic for a kid, she has to drive him past his barrels.”

The young cowgirl also qualified for the Little Britches National Finals Rodeo in 2015. She’ll be a contender to watch out for as she gets older. “Barrel racing is fun. I get to hang out with my friends and ride,” Jazilyn said.

Cecely Riesselman won the Friday pee wee with Oreo 17.567 for $7.

AY6A0157 Craig Dahlen webOP Dashing Sammy, “Mandy”, surprised rider Craig Dahlen, Iowa City, Iowa, with a winning run in Friday night’s poles clocking a 20.665. Photo by Al BraunworthJockeys were pleased to have the opportunity to run poles. OP Dashing Sammy, “Mandy”, surprised rider Craig Dahlen, Iowa City, Iowa, with a winning run in Friday night’s poles clocking 20.665 earning $119.

“I don’t know that Mandy has ever run poles before,” he said, “she’s a natural at it. She’s quick on her feet and turns good at the ends,” he said.

The mare’s owner Ron Roberts work for Dahlen and suggested Dahlen take the mare to the DeKalb event along with the other horses scheduled to compete.

The duo also ran in the Open barrels events finishing just outside the 1D pay window in 15.096 on Saturday. A strong finish on Sunday in the Open barrels landed them in sixth clocking 14.95 and earning a $499 check.

Wisconsin cowgirl, Hannah Schreck, and Drifters Lady Rose, “Rose”, took the top 2D spot in the Friday Poles event in 21.863, cashing in for $143. The 16-hand roping bred horse has taken a liking to poles.

“She’s fluid and consistent between the poles and rarely knocks a pole or barrel,” Schreck said.

The Friday race tallied a total of 25 entries. Rounding out the 3D, Stephany Benson and Olenas Peppy Tee won the 3D in 22.775 claiming $48. They also finished 2nd in the Open 2D on Sunday in 15.242 adding $722 in winnings. The team won the Open 2D on Friday in 15.324 adding $530 to the weekend winnings.

Saturday’s event line-up also included poles. Jenna Johnson from Arkansas and Eddie won the 1D. The pair finished in 20.321 taking home a $138 check. “He loves poles, I can feel his heart start to beat faster when he sees the poles set up,” she said.

They’ve been running together for 12 years, including Johnson’s time on the high school rodeo cirucuit. When the team raced together on the High School Rodeo circuit they earned the Wisconsin year end state championship in poles four-years in a row. “We’ve won a lot of poles events,” she said.

South Dakota racer Lacey Wagner earned the top 2D poles pot on Saturday. Stopping the clock at 21.528, she and Ima Hot Sissy Twist earned $69.

Running the mare is a flashback to Wagner’s high school rodeo days. While in high school, she ran a full sister to Ima Hot Sissy Twist and qualified for the High School Rodeo National Finals Rodeo. “It’s cool to have her coming along nearly 12 years after riding her sister,” Wagner said.

The 3D win went to Tom Liebert and Mooned By A Bully. The pair from Brooklyn, Wisconsin posted 22.767, earning $46.00.

Event recap
View videos recapping each day’s events on YouTube.





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