Article by Michael Mahaffey Photo by ProSportsPix
Fomer NFR qualifier and barrel racing instructor Sharon Camarillo headed east, Sept. 30-Oct. 2, to host her annual Sharon Camarillo Eastern Classic barrel race at Wahl Equestrian Center at Double G Farms in Gifford, Ill. Produced exclusively for Camarillo’s former students to showcase the abilities of their horses, as well as their own abilities as riders, the Eastern Classic once again fielded one of the toughest draws in the sport.
Donna Irvin and PC Fancy Smoak (“Sharke”) ruled the top of the 1D standings for most of the event. The coach of the Black Hawk College Equestrian team and her 7-year-old gelding by Fire N Smoak and out of a granddaughter of Frenchmans Guy began their attack by winning round one with a run of 14.953 seconds—just 35 thousandths of a second ahead of reserve winners Kristen Meyer and AG Famous Hot Rod.
Sharke missed his mark in round two, finishing in the 2D hole after scoring a 15.496-second run, but Irvin helped him regain his previous form in the third go round, where they posted the fastest time of the event—a 14.856—to top reserve winners Lori Blum and Curtain Call lady by nearly seven hundredths of a second. Their three-run Average time of 45.305 second earned the duo the Eastern Classic Grand Championship by almost a tenth and a half over reserve Average champions Blum and her mount.
Irvin, who also serves as the WPRA Great Lakes Circuit Director and a traveling instructor for the Sharon Camarillo Better Barrel Racing Clinic programs, has competed at the Eastern Classic since its inception in 2001, having earned more divisional placing’s than any other rider aboard five different horses. She continues to be a mentor for students and fellow contestants, demonstrating that good horsemanship techniques paired with a mental plan that never goes out of style.
Irvin said she was thrilled with her win, but admits that one of her biggest rewards comes in the opportunity to compete with the students she has inspired and taught and who share her passion for barrel racing competition and horsemanship education.
Sharke made his Eastern Classic debut by winning the Vaquero Award as a 4-year-old in 2008. Together with Irvin in 2011, he won a Courts Saddle for his Average win, a Rambo blanket for the In Pursuit of Excellence Fast Time Award and Gist buckles for win in both the Senior 1D and Appreciation 1D races. Sharke also took Camarillo clinic instructor Storme Camarillo to a 1D time in the Saturday evening Fun and Fast Times Jackpot, proving that a consistent foundation on the part of both horse and rider makes the duplication of success a formula not lucky run.
Cal VanderMyde rode Lacey Bar Leo to the 2D Average championship, while Penny Bound and Smartchic Investment earned the 3D Average win. Paula Stephani rode MML Jessies Only Fool to both the 4D Average title and the Kalyn Brooks Memorial Award. Each of the 2D-4D winners received custom-designed ostrich boots by Anderson Bean.
Camarillo offered a heart-felt thank you to all Eastern Classic contestants for their generous combined donation of over $1,800 to the Wrangler National Patriot Program program, which lends a helping hand to support veterans and their families.
For more information about Sharon Camarillo or one of her Classic races, visit SharonCamarillo.com.