The rodeo, which runs January 19 through February 4 and adds $30,000 per event, featured one preliminary round of barrel racing, which allowed contestants the chance to qualify for the rodeo’s progressive round by being among the 90 fastest runners. After 20 performances held over the course of a 12-day period, the preliminary round is now in the books. The progressive round gets underway beginning with the afternoon matinee on Tuesday, January 31. The top 90 are now gunning for a spot among the top 12 fastest to be featured during the rodeo’s final round, which takes place on Saturday, February 4. The unofficial cutoff time to make the top 90 was a 17.37.

Pierce Leads the Pack


Carlee Pierce dominated round one of the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo barrel racing.

Carlee Pierce, Woodward, Okla., doesn’t need any special advantage to pull off a win. But give her the top of the ground on Sunday night, January 22 and the outcome is fairly predictable. The 2011 Wrangler NFR qualifier took a commanding lead with a scorching 16.45-second run, which held strong through the course of the entire first round.

Interestingly enough, it’s the first time Pierce has seen her name in the Fort Worth lights, but her buckskin gelding Rare Dillion has been there before. In fact, before making his home with Pierce in early 2011 he took his previous owner, rider and trainer Annesa Self, Carrollton, Texas to several top 12 finals berths at the Fort Worth Stock Show rodeo, one of the first major big time rodeos the brilliant buckskin became famous for winning.

Defending Champion Moves to 2nd


Defending champion Kay Blandford finished second in round one.

Defending Fort Worth Rodeo champion Kay Blandford, Sutherland Springs, Texas could be on her way to another championship if her 11-year-old black mare Talents Dark Angel stays hooked. Blandford and Angel didn’t waste an ounce of their first place draw and a fast track during the Sunday matinee on January 29.

“Her run was simply awesome,” said Blandford who has been to the Wrangler National Finals 12 times over a span of four decades. “Last year I felt like I made my time at the first barrel. She turned every bit as good of a first barrel today as she did on either of her two runs last year. The only difference in the runs was it seemed last year it was a little more of a struggle to get across the timer coming back. This year it felt like we back in the alley before I knew it.”

Clocking the only sub-17 second time of the 17th performance, Blandford moved to second in the first round and to within six one-hundredths of the 16.45 posted by current leader Carlee Pierce.

Blandford planned to “stay put” on the grounds of the Fort Worth Stock Show—not necessarily by choice. Her mare has become so horrible to haul that she can’t risk taking her home or anywhere else until she’s finished at Fort Worth.

“It has become such an issue to get her to the rodeos, because of her kicking and fighting the trailer that I have no idea how much longer I’ll be able to continue fighting the battle,” admitted Blandford. “Unless you’ve had hauling difficulty you can’t image what a nightmare, both physically and emotionally it is. I never know if she’s going to be sound when I unload her or not. We’ve tried everything and nothing works. She gets worse not better.”

Driving to Fort Worth with husband Robert Blandford, she was tempted to turn around because Angle was kicking the trailer uncontrollably. “I called my friend Jymmy Kay Cox, who buddied with me but had to turn out to attend to her daughter who is in the hospital, and she told me not to dare turn around because Angel likes Fort Worth and I’d better keep on trucking. Thank goodness I took her advice.”

Unofficial first go round results: 1. Carlee Pierce, 16.45; 2. Kay Blandford, 16.51; 3. Benette Barrington-Little, 16.55; 4. Randa Kellogg, 16.59; 5. Callie Chamberlain, 16.64, 6/7. Rachel Primm, 16.65; 6/7. Nikki Steffes, 16.65; 8. Trula Churchill, 16.67; 9. Stacey Grimes 16.70; 10/11. Layna Kight, 16.73; 10/11. Tana Renick, 16.73.


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