LAS VEGAS — DECEMBER 16, 2023 —  It’s been a fairytale year. There’s no other way to describe the 2023 pro rodeo year for Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi. The wins kept coming, and the records kept falling.

Tonozzi set the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association regular-season earnings record this year with $270,563. She took home the 2023 Calgary Stampede championship; Dodge City, Kansas; Odessa and Stephenville, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Reno, Nevada — including setting the arena record in Reno. She also took home the win at Salt Lake City, Logan and Vernal, Utah; Preston and Caldwell, Idaho; Puyallup and Ellensburg, Washington; and was the 2023 Reserve Champion in Austin, Texas — just to name a few. She crossed the $3 million mark in WPRA career earnings in August after winning the the Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo.

She qualified for her 17th Wrangler NFR, and during this year’s NFR, she crossed the $1 million mark in career NFR earnings. She followed that by besting Hailey Kinsel’s single-year earnings record of $350,700, set in 2018. Tonozzi finished the year with $496,498.82 in world standings earnings.

The Lampasas, Texas, resident claimed her third WPRA world championship, and as the 2023 season comes to a close, it’s to no one’s surprise to see Tonozzi on top of the field.

Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi with world championship saddle
Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi wins her third WPRA World Championship. Photo by Kenneth Springer

“It’s kind of crazy. I’ve never rode other people’s horses; they’ve always been mine,” Tonozzi said of the difference this year. “It was fun to get on horses that were trained that I could just go have fun on, and they were solid and seasoned. It was also a little different for me where I had this support team and this group of people who rallied behind every win and every loss. It was really enjoyable.”

Tonozzi stepped on Busby Quarter Horses-owned and -bred Jets Top Gun in Round One of the NFR and only stepped off him once. The 2015 sorrel gelding by the late stallion Blazin Jetolena and out of GL Famous First Lady by Dash Ta Fame picked up his first NFR paycheck in Round One and placed in eight of the nine rounds in which he ran. For Round Six, which was held the morning of December 13 as a make-up performance due to the cancellation of the first performance, Tonozzi got on her own Babe On The Chase (“Birdie”) to give “Benny” a much-needed rest from running what would have been three runs in 24 hours. The EquiStat All-Time Leading Owner was back on Benny for Rounds Seven through 10.

All totaled, Benny earned $225,935.40 in Las Vegas.

“It’s been incredible to be able to ride those three horses and win as much as I had,” Tonozzi said of Benny, Birdie and SR Industry Titan, all of whom she ran during the regular season. “It seemed like the first places never ended, and it’s sad to see the season end, because it was such a great one. But, you know, hopefully there’s more great things to come.”

Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi turns first barrel
Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi claimed her third WPRA World Championship with a record in single-season earnings, mostly thanks to Busby Quarter Horses-bred and -owned Jets Top Gun, trained by Janna Brown. Photo by Kenneth Springer

Tonozzi has certainly put an exclamation point on her already outstanding career as both as an owner, breeder and trainer of barrel horses, but it’s not an accomplishment she takes lightly. Through her 20 years of professional rodeo, she was quick to admit this type of success — even though it might seem so from the outside eye — isn’t something typical for the $4.4 million EquiStat earner.

“I just kept going. I was going and going and going, between the futurities and the rodeos, and it was like I had a way about running barrels this year that I never had,” Tonozzi said. “Almost, I would say, like a clarity. I knew if I went and put my horses in the positions where they needed to be, that they won, and this has never happened for me like this. My futurity season was unbelievable. The rodeo season was unbelievable. I feel like I was so in-tune with my horses and my job. Maybe that’s the fact I’ve been doing this for 20 years now and those little things don’t really come in factor anymore, like the setups and the ground, it’s more of going out there and putting that horse in that position, hitting that spot and and letting them do their jobs.”

Lisa Lockhart Wins Round 10, NFR Aggregate, Reserve World Championship

Round 10 of the Wrangler NFR had fans on the edges of their seats. Several ladies were poised to set records, win titles and pick up big paychecks. And, when opportunity knocked, Lisa Lockhart answered the call. At draw No. 2 on the ground and sitting No. 5 in the world standings and No. 4 in the aggregate, Lockhart knew she had to come out smart but aggressive. Aboard Teton Ridge-owned gelding Promise Me Fame Guys, the WPRA All-Time Leading Rider turned in a time of 13.54 to take the lead in the round.

Still, there were 13 more contenders to run down the alley of the Thomas and Mack. Coming down the alley right behind Lockhart and with the potential to make a big move in the aggregate and world standings was back-to-back round winner Kassie Mowry and Force The Goodbye. They were currently sitting No. 2 in the aggregate race. Unfortunately for Mowry, the duo downed a barrel, upsetting the applecart and opening up the average race for Lockhart. Still, No. 1 cowgirl Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi and No. 3 in the aggregate Jordon Briggs each had the chance to secure the aggregate title as well. At draws No. 11 and 12, respectively, the former world champs each also hit barrels. This catapulted Lockhart to the top of the aggregate race and ultimately to the WPRA Reserve World Championship.

“It was such a surprise,” Lockhart said of winning the aggregate and the reserve world championship. “There’s a lot of surprises tonight, whether it be even the go-round win. When I was the [13.5], I thought ‘Well, that’s pretty good,’ but full well knowing what they’d been running, you didn’t know if you’d even pull a check. There’s a lot of surprises, and a lot was handed to me at the end. It’s a pretty emotional thing.”

Lisa Lockhart with 2023 NFR average saddle
Lisa Lockhart wins Round 10, claims her third NFR average title and finishes as 2023 WPRA Reserve World Champion. Photo by Kenneth Springer

“Levee,” who’s by Aint Seen Nothin Yet and out of Bar Blue Lass by FC Aboo, has been the picture of consistency for Lockhart in Las Vegas. He ran down the alleyway of the Thomas and Mack Center all 10 rounds and picked up a total $209,096 and a round win. Levee joined Lockhart’s string of talented mounts in 2021 after being started on the pattern by breeder and previous owner Tenley Epperson and then futuritied to more than $120,000 with trainer Samantha Flannery. Teton Ridge purchased Levee the same year, and Lockhart and Levee went to winning together right away. By 2022, Levee and Lockhart had earned more than $197,000, including about $161,000 from the 2022 Wrangler NFR. This year, throughout the regular season of pro rodeos, he’s added another $160,000 to his earnings, bringing his total lifetime earnings to $490,465, according to EquiStat. Pair that talent with Lockhart’s 30 years of experience in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association, and it’s a recipe for success.

“It started out a little slow this week,” Lockhart said. “You start questioning your sanity, and you know, your ability, and it was all about patience and trying to gain momentum, and with the young horse gaining confidence as we go. I was sure he was going to gain momentum and confidence and get stronger as we went up, and he did just that. Sometimes horses weaken at the end, and he got stronger.”

First-time NFR qualifier Ilyssa Riley earned her first paycheck of the 2023 Wrangler NFR in Round 10 with a time of 13.79 aboard Mistys Money Blurr for sixth place, worth $4,952, and finished seventh in the aggregate for another $13,372. Photo by Kenneth Springer

2023 NFR Barrel Racing Round 10 Results

Place, Name, Horse, Time, Money Won

1. Lisa Lockhart / Promise Me Fame Guys / 13.54 / $30,706

2. Summer Kosel / Firewaterfrenchfame / 13.59 / $24,268

3. Hailey Kinsel / DM Sissy Hayday / 13.67 / $18,325

4. Jessica Routier / Fiery Miss West / 13.73 / $12,877

5. Paige Jones / Famous Hayday / 13.76 / $7,924

6. Ilyssa Riley / Mistys Money Blurr / 13.79 / $4,953

7. Sissy Winn / A R Dash Ta Flame / 13.81

8. Stevi Hillman / Sand In My Socks / 13.85

9. Sue Smith / Diamond Center / 13.97

10. Kassie Mowry / Force The Goodbye / 18.28*

11. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi / Jets Top Gun /  18.52*

12. Jordon Briggs / Famous Lil Jet / 18.92*

13. Wenda Johnson / Steal Money / 19.74*

14. Emily Beisel / Namgis D 33 / 18.56*

15. Taycie Matthews / Stoli My Firewater / NT

2023 WPRA Top 15 Stats

2023 NFR Barrel Racing Horsepower

2023 NFR Barrel Racing Horses Connections and Stats

Aggregate Standings on 10 Runs

Rank, Name, Aggregate Time

1. Lisa Lockhart / 137.18 / $78,747.07

2. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi / 141.18 / $63,889.14

3. Kassie Mowry / 141.20 / $50,516.99

4. Paige Jones / 142.21 / $37,144.85

5. Jordon Briggs / 142.23 / $26,744.29

6. Jessica Routier / 142.76 / $19,315.32

7. Ilyssa Riley / 144.54 / $13,372.14

8. Hailey Kinsel / 148.67 / $7,428.97

9. Sue Smith / 149.00 10. Summer Kosel / 152.66

11. Sissy Winn / 156.64 12. Stevi Hillman / 158.09

13. Emily Beisel / 161.48 14. Wenda Johnson / 163.64

15. Taycie Matthews / 154.88 on nine runs

2023 WPRA World Standings (after Round 10)

Rank, Name, Hometown, World Standings Earnings / Total NFR Earnings

1. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi / Lampasas, Texas / $496,498.82

2. Lisa Lockhart / Oelrichs, South Dakota / $343,688.04

3. Kassie Mowry / Dublin, Texas / $322,592.71

4. Jordon Briggs / Tolar, Texas / $272,518.53

5. Emily Beisel / Weatherford, Oklahoma / $246,674.04

6. Sissy Winn / Chapman Ranch, Texas / $229,961.77

7. Summer Kosel / Glenham, South Dakota / $228,696.65

8. Paige Jones / Wayne, Oklahoma / $217,138.87

9. Jessica Routier / Buffalo, South Dakota / $194,843.40

10. Stevi Hillman / Granbury, Texas / $173,989.82

11. Hailey Kinsel / Cotulla, Texas / $154,406.41

12. Taycie Matthews / Wynne, Arkansas / $154,161.40

13. Ilyssa Riley / Hico, Texas / $139,798.16

14. Sue Smith / Blackfoot, Idaho / $133,968.73

15. Wenda Johnson / Pawhuska, Oklahoma / $130,506.57

Author

Kailey Sullins is editor of Barrel Horse News, and an avid barrel racer and breakaway roper. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

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