Sarah Rose McDonald
By Jolee Lautaret-Jordan
San Antonio, Texas — She may not have won any firsts during the second semi-finals competition at the 2015 San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo but Sarah Rose McDonald is still the talk of the rodeo world.
Currently the No. 1 ranked barrel racer in the WPRA World standings, McDonald has been undefeated in pro competition since January, including a clean sweep of three rounds at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. Then she won every round of bracket two in San Antonio to qualify to the semi-finals as the high money winner of the rodeo.
Competing in the second semi-finals, McDonald and her amazing mare Fame Fling N Bling, aka Bling, finally got outrun during the opening round on Thursday night, February 26. . . but not by much. Her 13.98 second run was eight one-hundredths behind four-time WPRA World Champ Sherry Cervi.
Twenty-four hours later, McDonald again ran second; this time her 13.98 was behind Alexa Lake, the third ranked cowgirl in the 2015 WPRA World standings.
The only cowgirl in the field to make five sub-fourteen second runs, McDonald added $6,416 to her San Antonio earnings during the two-run semi-finals to move on to the Championship Round on Saturday night, February 28. She has already won $13,259 in the Alamo City with the biggest checks getting paid out on the final night.
Cervi was second in earnings coming into the semis and held her position with another round win and a share of fourth on her two semi-final runs. Cervi is riding Trip and Callie DuPerier's Atlas Peak while regular mount MP Meter My Hay waits in Tucson for the short round there on Sunday.
Cervi earned $4,811 during the semi-finals to push her total earnings to $11,085, second best of the bracket and third overall.
The rodeo started with 50 cowgirls divided evenly into five brackets. Four made the move from the brackets to the semi-finals. Only five from each semi-finals will compete on the final night of this year's rodeo, leaving 10 cowgirls to battle for the big check for first worth $14,476.
Second place in 2015 will pay $10,857, third earns $7,238 and fourth $3,619. The rodeo's champion is the cowgirl with the highest earnings at the conclusion of the final night.
McDonald is one of a slew of lefties leading the WPRA in the early going of the 2015 season. While horses that run to the left barrel first are outnumbered overall in the ranks of the WPRA, they are dominating in San Antonio. Two of the five from the semi-finals are lefties and another four advanced from the second semi-finals.
Montana cowgirl Shelly Anzick is one of those. Riding Scooten ta Fame, Anzick pulled a pair of third place finishes in the semi-finals to solidify her position in the San Antonio Championship round for the second straight year. She won $4,278 to push her total earnings in San Antonio in 2015 to $8,269.
McDonald and Cervi could have advanced without winning a dime in the semi-finals as both cowgirls had plenty of earnings coming in and advancement is based solely on total money won.
While McDonald, Cervi and Anzick's positions were assured before the final night of the second semi-finals, Alexa Lake needed a big win in round two to have any shot at a Championship here. Riding Sure Down Dash, aka Viper, Lake scorched the pattern inside the AT&T Center, turning in a 13.75 second run that's the fastest run since McDonald posted a 13.70 back in the second round of bracket two.
Lake collected $4,277 for the win, enough to push her total earnings to $7,128 and punch her ticket into the finals as the fourth qualifier from semi-finals two.
The field for the finals is completed with Rockdale, Texas cowgirl Kelly Tovar. While most of her fellow finalists have rolled into the final night with wins in their respective semi-finals, Tovar actually didn't win any money in the semis.
In fact, she didn't even get to ride the horse that brought her. BB French Fooled Ya, aka Edwin, carried Tovar to $5,132 in earnings, the best of bracket four. But Tovar noticed her big yellow partner having respiratory problems following his final run and sent the gelding to Dr. Marty Tanner at Elgin Vet Hospital. Fellow competitor DuPerier came to the rescue, loaning Tovar a horse to ride for the semi-finals.
"I jump rode him the first time ever here at San Antonio," Tovar said, laughing as she added, "I'm not the best at jump riding and I would have preferred it be at a $1,000 added rodeo in the slack instead of San Antonio."
While Tovar failed to earn any cash, her previous earnings were enough to move her on to the finals and Dr. Tanner assures her that Edwin is ready to roll.
"He told me he's good," she said, adding that she was aware she had a shot to advance. "It was so kind of the DuPeriers to let me ride their horse and he's a really nice horse; if it wasn't for them, I really don't know what I would have ridden. I just have to thank them so much."
With Edwin back and ready to run, Tovar will be one of the six lefties vying to be the 2015 San Antonio Champ, joining McDonald, Anzick, Lake, Jana Bean and reigning WPRA World Champion Fallon Taylor. Both Bean and Anzick were in the finals a year ago. At least one cowgirl from each bracket will compete in the finals with brackets three and four sending three cowgirls each into the finals.
For more information on the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, visit them on-line at www.sarodeo.com and stay tuned to www.wpra.com for continuing updates.
Name, Horse, Bracket, Semi-Finals Earnings, Total Earnings
Sarah Rose McDonald, Fame Fling N Bling, Bracket 2, $6,416, $13,259
Sherry Cervi, Atlas Peak, Bracket 3, $4,811, $11,085
Shelly Anzick, Scooten ta Fame, Bracket 5, $4,278, $8,269
Alexa Lake, Sure Down Dash, Bracket 4, $4,277, $7,128
Kelly Tovar, BB French Fooled Ya, Bracket 4, $0, $5,132
Other Money Winners
Kaley Bass, Wonders Cowboy Dan, $1,603, $4,455
Sarah Kieckhefer, Cruisen Okey Dokey, $3,422
Britany Diaz, Dasher Dude, $2,281
Christine Laughlin, Guys Six Pack to Go, $2,281
Carley Richardson, Doda Flit, $2,281
Field for the Finals
Name, Horse, Bracket, Total Earnings
Sarah Rose McDonald, Fame Fling N Bling, Bracket 2, $13,259
Jana Bean, Dashing Klee, Bracket 4, $11,976
Sherry Cervi, Atlas Peak, Bracket 3, $11,085
Fallon Taylor, Flos Heiress, Bracket 5, $11,049
Shelly Anzick, Scooten ta Fame, Bracket 5, $8,269
Alexa Lake, Sure Down Dash, Bracket 4, $7,128
Pam Capper, Sheza Smooth Flight, Bracket 3, $6,629
Callie Duperier, Rare Dillion, Bracket 3, $6,629
Kenna Squires, Dashing Trace, Bracket 1, $5,631
Kelly Tovar, BB French Fooled Ya, Bracket 4, $5,132