The dirt was flying during the 2015 Paint Barrel Racing Incentive Program Sweepstakes at the APHA World Championship Show. More than $11,000 was up for grabs, bringing 50 Paints to the Will Rogers Coliseum to vie for the championship titles. The two 4-D sweepstakes classes were split between Regular Registry and Solid-Paint Bred events, with an additional $2,000 awarded by Farnam to the fastest overall time.
Sweepstakes entries were up 48 percent from 2014, and the competition was tough. Coming hot off a world championship win in Senior Barrel Racing the night before, Montie Ledford and EZ Jet Express rose to the challenge and captured a win in the Regular Registry sweepstakes. Only paired together since March, Montie says “Hawk,” a 2009 black tobiano gelding by Lucky Bug Pilgrim and out of Expressive Clabbers (QH), is a true athlete.
“When I bought Hawk from my friend, Teresa Watson, I had never even stepped up on him, but I just knew his style of running would fit my style; I like a really free running, flexible style of horse,” Montie said. “It was just a matter of timing and us coming together as a team.”
Together, Montie and Hawk ran a 15.388-second pattern to finish on top of the 1-D standings, taking home a check for $1,180. Hawk also ran the fastest time of the two sweepstakes classes, earning an additional $2,000, sponsored by Farnam.
This win is extra special for Montie, as she had a guardian angel of sorts watching over her runs.
“My mom had to have open-heart surgery at the beginning of October, and she managed to pull through; it’s truly a miracle because she’s not supposed to be here,” Montie said. “But she came and watched all of my barrel runs this year, and she’s really enjoyed it.
“It’s been tough, but I think I had such a different perspective coming into my runs. I was just grateful to be here and so grateful to have my mom in the stands watching me. I didn’t have any pressure on me, and that’s a great way to run.”
A staunch advocate for fast-moving Paints, Montie says she’s thrilled to see PBRIP grow.
“I’ve waited a long time for a program like PBRIP, and I think it’s fabulous,” she said. “What I really like about PBRIP and APHA is that they’ve worked together to be flexible and listen to the barrel racers, take in the ideas and adjust the program accordingly. That’s amazing, and I think it shows in the quality of the barrel horses that are now coming to the APHA World Show.”
A Solid Sensation
Lance Graves is certainly no stranger to the winner’s circle, but his APHA World Show wins with LLP Susies Witch have a special place in his heart. Earlier in the week, “Haven,” a 2008 solid palomino mare by Streakin Again (QH) and out of Go Too Susie, helped Lance clinch his 20th career world championship as they topped the charts in Open Solid Paint-Bred Barrel Racing. Susie, who is owned by Lance’s friend, Belinda Wheeler, didn’t disappoint in the PBRIP Solid Paint-Bred Sweepstakes, either. Clocking a 15.617, Lance and Haven won the 1-D and $947 of the $4,510 up for grabs in the class.
“Haven had an equally good run as when she won the world championship last night,” Lance said. “She was a little more up and a little more strong in the alley because she knew she was going to compete again, so I took her in and out of the alleys a few times to just calm her down and then she backed off and she was right on target.”
The runs were just as special for Belinda, whose excitement refused to be contained.
“It’s probably the most exciting thing I’ve sat through, watching Lance run my mare,” Belinda said. “Watching him win the world championship yesterday, that was wonderful. But to come back and win the PBRIP sweepstakes championship, that’s just icing on the cake.”
A seasoned veteran in the barrel world, Lance had nothing but praise for PBRIP’s influence on the industry.
“I have to applaud the APHA for the PBRIP program, and I applaud APHA for adding those solid-bred classes; I came back to the World Show because of the renewed support of solid-bred horses.” Lance said. “I think PBRIP is a very positive thing for all of us in the industry. For that, my hat’s off to APHA.”
Want to earn extra money for barrel racing with a Paint? Discover PBRIP and find events in your area at pbrip.com.
[Reprinting all or part of this news release is permitted, so long as credit is given to the Paint Horse Journal and a link provided back to apha.com.]
The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest international equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded. APHA creates and maintains programs that increase the value of American Paint Horses and enriches members’ experiences with their horses.