“It gets the momentum going,” said Cervi. “It feels awesome every time you win a round, but it’s a long week and there are 14 other girls with just as good an opportunity to win. My plan is just to run out as fast as I can every night.”
Making the victory even sweeter was the fact that the Top 15 WPRA barrel racers voted Stingray as the Horse with the Most Heart during an awards ceremony earlier in the day.
“She is an awesome horse that gives 110 percent every time, so she deserves it,” said Cervi. “But, all of the girls love their horses. I can’t describe how it feels for them to give Stingray this award.”
Ever gracious, the 16-time NFR qualifier and three-time WPRA world champion was complimentary of conditions inside the Thomas & Mack.
“It was a fast barrel race tonight,” said Cervi. “The ground is very important to the barrel racers. I was at the bottom of the ground and it felt fast. We are lucky to have the best in the business here to take care of the ground.”
As is characteristic of the competition each year at the WNFR, first round times were tight, an indication of the poise of veteran qualifiers and the skill of this year’s NFR rookies. Two-time NFR qualifier Sydni Blanchard, Albuquerque, N.M., finished second with a time of 13.80, while Whitesboro, Texas cowgirl Fallon Taylor, who has been absent from the NFR since last qualifying in 1998, earned third aboard AQHA/PRCA Horse of the Year Flos Heiress with a 13.83. Unfortunately, 2012 WPRA World Champion Mary Walker and her 9-year-old bay gelding Purculatin (“Latte”) tipped the second barrel. Walker entered the Finals ranked No. 2 in the world, trailing Cervi by $10,303.
Don’t miss the February issue of Barrel Horse News to read in-depth coverage of all the great stories from the 2013 Wrangler NFR.
Barrel Racing Results – 1st Go Round:
1. Sherry Cervi, Marana, Ariz., MP Meter My Hay, 13.77 seconds, $18,630;
2. Sydni Blanchard, Albuquerque, N.M., Pure Victory Dash, 13.80, $14,724;
3. Fallon Taylor, Whitesboro, Texas, Flos Heiress, 13.83, $11,118;
4. (tie) Sabrina Ketcham, Yeso, N.M., Swivel Ta Fame, and Trula Churchill, Valentine, Neb., A Streak Of Rita, 13.88, $6,310 each;
6. Jane Melby, Burneyville, Okla., First Down Perk, 13.91, $3,005;
7. Brittany Pozzi, Victoria, Texas, Terrible Tommy Twist, 13.94;
8. Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D., An Oakie With Cash, 14.06;
9. Michele McLeod, Whitesboro, Texas, Slick By Design, 14.11;
10. Christy Loflin, Sheza Blazin Move, Franktown, Colo., 14.13;
11. Kaley Bass, Kissimmee, Fla., Wonders Cowboy Dan, 14.37;
12. Shada Brazile, Decatur, Texas, Dial It Fast, 14.44;
13. Taylor Jacob, Carmine, Texas, Honor Thy Frenchman, 18.73;
14. Jean Winters, Texline, Texas, Crickets Peppy Zan, 18.90;
15. Mary Walker, Ennis, Texas, Perculatin, 19.03.