We all know the saying “If you build it, they will come”. Well, in the sport of barrel racing, it goes something more like “If you add the money, and the prizes, get the ground just right and have good weather – they might show up”, and show up they did! Spurr Ranch, nestled in the quiet town of Shandon, California was host to the largest one day race California has seen in many years. The 2015 Spurr Ranch Barrel Challenge presented Nutrena boasted over 500 entries and a payout in excess of $70,000 as a part of the West Coast Barrel Racing Association. In conjunction with the Barrel Challenge, Spurr Ranch was host to the 2015 California Circuit Divisional Finals for the top twelve card holders, permit holders and juniors for the fourth consecutive year.
Friday evening, as the sun set and the temperature dropped, the competition heated up as 326 contestants raced against the clock in the $500 added open 5D warm up race. As the race ended, atop the 1D leader board was the talented Darleen Alves riding her 10-year-old mare Nic N Shine better known as Nicolette. Alves’ time of 16.551 earned her $792 for their efforts. Nicolette was purchased from top trainer and NFR qualifier, Jerri Mann. Darleen attributes most of her success to Mann’s training. Running hot on Darleen’s heals were the likes of the talented Katie Pascoe on JR Naughty Jet with a 16.576 and Shelby Tuck on Bullion Dollar Bay who clocked a 16.594. The 2D honors went home to Sherrie Jones on Streaker Shoots Six ($604), the 3D to Kim Brown on Savannahs Showdown ($587), the 4D to Jaycie Branch on Bar Bug Ike ($499) and the 5D win went to Doreen Drummond on Music To My Ears ($352). Alves would like to say a special thank you to her husband, her father and her children for being her largest supporters.
Saturday’s Barrel Challenge offered up some the best ground conditions to all of its 510 entries, compliments of the Black Widow Arena Groomer and the efforts of the owner of Spurr Ranch, Dave Spurr. The sub-seventeen second runs began rapidly by only the third run of the day. However, when rider #212 entered the arena, the competition became real. Angie Hardin of Cottonwood, California and her ultra-compact 14.2 hand horse, Smartys Real Rock, also known as Cajun, clocked a 16.373 on a flawless run that left with goosebumps. Hardin and Cajun earned the top Open 1D check in the amount of $1,852. “This little horse runs hard and can rate even harder. It can be a challenge to make clean back to back runs. My goals were pretty simple, ride hard to each barrel and bump my outside rein as I got there, keep him square and elevated in his turn. He was pretty honest in both runs (Friday and Saturday) and that seems to be coming with age!” said Hardin. “The ground conditions speak for themselves…five hundred plus runs in one day without the slightest bobble. Spurr Ranch provides that safe and fast ground we all crave”.
This Cottonwood team made their 800 mile round trip to Spurr Ranch worth every mile, as their open time also carried over to the 2nd annual Sweet 16 Invitational Slot Race, placing them 1st in the 1D for another check in the amount of $1,692. The pair took home more than $4,200 in total, a Weatherby PA-08 Upland Shotgun and a Sweet 16 Benchmark Buckle for their efforts over the weekend. Angie would like to thank the following individuals for their help and support: Cathy Ruda, Equine Acu/Myo Therapist, Sam Willis, Equine Chiropractic and Dr. Jeff Jones, DMV.
The Barrel Challenge 2D win belonged to Carollann Scott of Agua Dulce aboard Fit To Race cashing in $1,646. Lodi, CA’s own, Jamey Wells and her stead Smokin Lady Yellow tied for the win with Noel Cosca from Friant, CA riding Red Hot Howie, both earning $1,296 each. Benny Maddox and Wrangler’s Biankus from Sherman oaks won the 4D for $1,166 and the 5D was won by Dustie Christensen on Remedys Sunshine Kay of Bakersfield, CA for a $823 pay day.
High money winner on the weekend belonged to Katie Pascoe of Morro Bay, CA riding her home grown 6-year-old Blazing Jetolena gelding, JR Naughty Jet. The duo banked $4,371 dollars on the weekend, placing 2nd in the warm up race, 2nd in the Barrel Challenge, 2nd in the Sweet 16 Invitational Slot Race, 1st in the WCBRA Average and taking home the top honors in the 2015 WPRA Permit Finals as well. Katie was awarded a Cactus Saddlery gift certificate presented by Marguerite Happy of the WPRA CA Circuit for the fast time of all the WPRA Finals (Divisional, Permit and Juniors) with her 16.407.
“The Spurr Ranch crew is famous around here for putting on incredible events. The Barrel Challenge was no exception. It’s evident that the entire crew cares deeply for the sport of barrel racing, the contestants, and their equine partners. The ground was safe and consistent throughout the barrel race. The awards were amazing, the amount of money added was awesome, and to top it all off, everybody at Spurr Ranch is always extremely pleasant and accommodating. I feel very fortunate to have had such a good weekend, and I’d like to give a sincere ‘thank you’ to all of the people who made that happen. To all of the sponsors, barrel setters, gate people, etc., you are very much appreciated!” states Pascoe. “One of my favorite things about attending their races is watching everyone support each other and cheer on one another. It really is like a small community out there, and I think I speak for everyone when I say I appreciate having such a great place to go.”
Spurr Ranch would like to congratulate all who joined in the 2015 Barrel Challenge. We would also like to thank the title sponsor of the Spurr Ranch Barrel Racing Productions, Nutrena accompanied by an extensive list of additional sponsors and fans of the barrel racing industry that have made this all possible. Keep a look out for a full 2016 race schedule coming soon.