WPRA News March 2020

DENVER RECAP DENVER’S TOP DIVA Taylor Top Barrel Racer at National Western By Bonnie Wheatley W hen Carly Taylor and her 9-year-old mare Diva Deniro loaded up to leave the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, Taylor had banked $9,844 as the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association barrel racing champion.

Among the pre-eminent annual winter rodeos in the nation, the NWSS in Denver, Colorado, closed out 16 days of action featuring 20 rodeo performances, which concluded on the afternoon of Sunday, January 26. Taylor, of Andersonville, Tennessee, moved to eighth in the WPRA ProRodeo World Standings following the event thanks to the win. Taylor says Diva rocked the first barrel leaving it in the Finals and she didn’t know if the barrel was up until she turned the second, but was pleasantly surprised to see it standing. “After the second barrel everything was just real smooth,” said Taylor. “She was just really running. I knew she’d be fast, but when I saw how fast the time was, that was kind of unexpected. It felt amazing.” The 2019 WPRA Rookie of the Year is no stranger to the winner’s circle and neither is Taylor’s partner Diva.According to Equi-Stat, Diva has amassed $224,663 in lifetime barrel racing earnings, most of which has been with Taylor in the saddle. Sired by PC Frenchmans Hayday

Carly Taylor got her 2020 rodeo season off to a hot start with a big win in Denver aboard her 9-year old mare Diva Deniro. Photo by Ric Anderson

and out of the Bully Bullion daughter KC Bully, Diva and Taylor have celebrated wins at major races like the Barrel Futurities of America World Championships, All American Youth and WPRA World Finals since becoming a team in 2015. “I started running barrels when I was pretty young,” said the 21-year-old. “I had mostly gone to the bigger barrel races, futurities and derbies so I was pretty new to rodeoing, but my mare has always tried so hard.” Taylor and Diva’s biggest rodeo win together next to Denver happened when they earned the

Each of the three rodeo performances on Saturday, at 11 a.m., 3:30 and 8 p.m., featured eight contestants in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing and bull riding. The four best from each of those performances advanced to Sunday’s championships. Taylor drew up in the 11 a.m. semi-finals performance where she posted a 15.49 to finish second behind Texas cowgirl Sissy Winn, whose time of 15.21 topped that set. Taylor returned with determination in the Finals to stop the clock in 14.99 seconds, earning the title. Taylor attributes her win to nailing the approach to her first barrel in the Denver Coliseum, where the offset angle of the pattern can pose problems for some horses. “It took me until the semi-finals to really decide how I needed to approach first,” she said. “I sat there and studied it and decided I needed to try something a little different. I started from the left side of the alley, which sounds like it wouldn’t be what you’d do, but it worked better.” Taylor’s traveling partner Abby Phillips, of Marshall, Texas, posted the fastest time of the 19th perf, a 15.07 worth $3,403, to make the Finals where she finished fourth for another $1,851. Phillips was ranked No. 14 in the world standings the first of February. Taylor was grateful that her traveling partner experienced success on their trip and added thanks to her parents, Ben and Suzanne Taylor, for their constant support. Holding down the No. 2 spot in the Finals was 2018 WPRA Rookie of the Year Jimmie Smith who rode her palomino mare Lena On The Rocks “Lena” to a rock-solid 15.07 in the Finals. Lena On The Rocks is by Firewaterontherocks and out of the Smart Cash Cutter daughter Tourlena. Cashing in for a little more than $11,083 in Denver helped Smith move to third in the WPRA standings.

Taylor was all smiles in the winner’s circle after winning the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver. Photo by Ric Anderson

prestigious Cody Stampede title in 2019 for a $10,000-plus payday. Taylor finished 18th in the world in 2019 with $72,300 and hopes to stay ranked among the 2020 WPRA Top 15 and earn her trip to Las Vegas in December. “My rookie year was tough,” said Taylor. “What’s tough is to not let yourself think about it if you make a bad run. I had to learn to be mentally strong and not let myself dwell on one bad run for too long. I realized I had a really good horse, which makes it worth it to keep going.” Denver’s new tournament-style format whittled the field of 80 WPRA barrel racers down to 24 semi-finalists who competed in the three Progressive round performances held on Saturday, January 25.


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