LAS VEGAS, NEVADA—December 5, 2021—With the fastest time of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo so far, Wenda Johnson laid claim to Round Four with a 13.46 aboard 5-year-old gelding Steal Money for a payday of $26,996.97.

Impressively, Mo only has one full year of competition under his belt. He was a futurity horse this year and has now added an NFR go-round win to his young but robust stats column.

“It’s a tribute to his personality. He has a lot of try and really wants to go in there and run barrels. He likes it, so it makes my job easier. That’s my No. 1 goal is I want them to love their job,” Johnson. “That was Mo’s second run in that pen, so to come in and run a 13.4, I’m pretty excited about that. Inside the pen, I’m not worried. He listens good, he tries hard, it’s just the other factors he hasn’t been exposed to. That’s my responsibility to help it not be overwhelming, because I definitely don’t want to blow him up.”

Mo is one of three 5-year-olds competing in the 2021 NFR. However, he’s the only one that also futuritied the same year he ran at the Finals. Stevi Hillman’s mount Famous Lemon Drop futuritied in 2020 as a 4-year-old under DaCota Monk, while Molly Otto futuritied Teasin Dat Guy in 2020 as a 4-year-old as well.

“This is pretty challenging for any 5-year-old, and there are three of them here. Some horses just have the personality and can handle the pressure, and you have to assess the individual horse’s maturity level,” Johnson said.

Johnson rode 8-year-old Macgyver Moonflash (First Moonflash x Touched By The Moon x Black Moons Arising) the first two rounds, hitting two barrels the first night but making a solid run in Round Two. She made the switch to Mo for Rounds Three and Four, admitting that the commotion of rodeo’s Super Bowl was a bit much for the young horse outside the arena. In hindsight, she was glad to have hopped on her steady “Mac” the first two days to allow Mo some more time to get acclimated.

“I knew ultimately I wanted to run Mo first, but he was still fresh and if he’s fresh, he doesn’t focus, so I needed to get him ridden down a little more,” Johnson said. “I didn’t know the unknowns in the back alley, so it was easy to get on Mac first, and I’m glad I did, because the music was so loud that first night. Then the flag girls came by, and that’s not something Mo is a fan of at all. I still can’t even go in the warm-up pen where the flag girls are standing; he gets that worried. The first night it rattled him just being here, so I did some work on him those couple days to prepare him to make a run and know what’s going to be coming at him. Tonight he didn’t get worked up. He handled it like a champ, and I feel that he’s growing and getting stronger and understanding what’s going on around him.”

Like Johnson’s other winners, Mo is another successful product from the Tres Mesa Horses program—Mark Singletary as owner, Luis Hernandez as trainer and Johnson as jockey. Johnson’s first Tres Mesa-owned winner was Dreams First Flash, followed by her two-time NFR mount Macgyver Moonflash, and now Steal Money. 

—>Read more: Luis Hernandez on Training the Tres Mesa-Wenda Johnson Winners

Mo was trained by Tres Mesa resident trainer Hernandez, futuritied by Kassie Mowry this year and then partnered with Johnson’s jockeying abilities at the rodeos mid-year. Johnson says her first Wrangler NFR go-round win is special, but she’s not necessarily surprised simply because she believes so strongly in both of her horses’ abilities.

“It’s not surprising—both horses are so amazing and talented. I got the wins on Mac this year at Reno and San Angelo. I can always count on him; he’s solid and loves his job. As for Mo and the barrel run itself, he’s just a really nice horse. He did great at Calgary and the other rodeos where I ran him this year,” she said. “Both can be go-round winners, so I just try to make this a good experience for them so that they come in here strong with each run. I’m just grateful for both of them. I’m so proud of them.”

All 15 barrel racers went clean in Round Four. Stevi Hillman holds onto her lead in the aggregate race, while Hailey Kinsel still sits atop the WPRA world standings.

—> 2021 WPRA Top 15 Stats

—> 2021 NFR Horse Pedigrees

—> Blood, Sweat and Cheers: 2021 NFR Horse Struggle Stories

Round Four Results

Place, Name, Horse, Time, Money Won

  1. Wenda Johnson, Steal Money, 13.46, $26,996.97
  2. Amanda Welsh, Frenchman Fire Fly, 13.61, $21,336.32
  3. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Ima Famous Babe, 13.62, $16,111.10
  4. Emily Miller-Beisel, Namgis D 33, 13.63, $11,321.31
  5. Dona Kay Rule, High Valor, 13.69, $6,966.96
  6. Hailey Kinsel, DM Sissy Hayday, 13.70, $4,354.35
  7. Stevi Hillman, Famous Lemon Drop, 13.75
  8. Shelley Morgan, HR Fameskissandtell, 13.76
  9. Ivy Saebens, KN Fabs Gift Of Fame, 13.77
  10. Cheyenne Wimberley, VQ Sucker Punch, 13.78
  11. Nellie Miller, Rafter W Minnie Reba, 13.82
  12. Jordon Briggs, Famous Lil Jet, 13.91
  13. Lisa Lockhart, Prime Diamond, 13.92
  14. Jessica Routier, Fiery Miss West, 13.94
  15. Molly Otto, Teasin Dat Guy, 14.06
Amanda Welsh and Frenchman Fire Fly
Amanda Welsh and Frenchman Fire Fly finished second in Round Four of the 2021 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, worth $21,336.32. Photo by Kenneth Springer
Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi Ima Famous Babe
Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi and Ima Famous Babe finished third in Round Four of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, worth $16,111.10. Photo by Kenneth Springer
Emily Miller Beisel and Namgis D 33
Emily Miller Beisel and Namgis D 33 finished fourth in Round Four of the 2021 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, worth $11,321.31. Photo by Kenneth Springer
Dona Kay Rule and High Valor
Dona Kay Rule and High Valor finished fifth in Round Four of the 2021 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, worth $6,966.96. Photo by Kenneth Springer
Hailey Kinsel and DM Sissy Hayday
Hailey Kinsel and DM Sissy Hayday finished sixth in Round Four of the 2021 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, worth $4,354.35. Photo by Kenneth Springer

Aggregate Standings on Four Runs

Rank, Name, Aggregate Time

  1. Stevi Hillman, 55.14
  2. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 55.16
  3. Amanda Welsh, 55.25
  4. Jordon Briggs, 55.44
  5. Jessica Routier, 56.17
  6. Molly Otto, 56.34
  7. Cheyenne Wimberley, 59.95
  8. Hailey Kinsel, 59.99
  9. Emily Miller-Beisel, 60.28
  10. Shelley Morgan, 60.45
  11. Nellie Miller, 60.78
  12. Lisa Lockhart, 60.83
  13. Dona Kay Rule, 64.75
  14. Wenda Johnson, 64.87
  15. Ivy Saebens, 65.76

WPRA World Standings

Rank, Name, Hometown, Earnings

  1. Hailey Kinsel, Cotulla, TX, $143,994.04
  2. Dona Kay Rule, Minco, OK, $135,920.85
  3. Amanda Welsh, Gillette, WY, $132,422.44
  4. Jordon Briggs, Tolar, TX, $128,293.86
  5. Stevi Hillman, Weatherford, TX, $123,851.12
  6. Wenda Johnson, Pawhuska, OK, $122,669.80
  7. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Lampasas, TX, $121,233.12
  8. Shelley Morgan, Eustace, TX, $120,340.43
  9. Cheyenne Wimberley, Stephenville, TX, $111,298.94
  10. Emily Miller-Beisel, Weatherford, OK, $106,115.76
  11. Ivy Saebens, Nowata, OK, $96,917.18
  12. Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, SD, $96,380.03
  13. Jessica Routier, Buffalo, SD, $88,847.28
  14. Nellie Miller, Cottonwood, CA, $85,519.15
  15. Molly Otto, Grand Forks, ND, $74,172.51

Blanche Schaefer is an avid barrel racer and managing editor of Barrel Horse News. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

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