It was a rapid night of barrel racing for the ladies of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association here at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nev., but none was faster than Ivy Saebens riding the great mare KN Fabs Gift Of Fame (“J-Lo”). Saebens and J-Lo tied the fastest time of the 2021 NFR with their 14.43, the same time run by Emily Miller-Beisel and Namgis D33 to win round 5. Saebens and J-Lo banked $26,997 for their efforts. J-Lo is owned by Kenny Nichols and Dale Barron.
A WPRA career earner of $981,235 coming into the NFR, Saebens, of Nowata, Okla., has added $53,108 to that total so far here at the Thomas & Mack Center arena in the course of the past week. Unofficially, this makes her a $1 million dollar cowgirl. With seven of the 10 NFR go rounds now in the books Saebens is out of the average, but has moved up from where she came in at 12th to ninth overall in the WPRA world standings with $123,914.
Listen to Saebens’ post-round interview on “The Money Barrel” podcast!
“I finally felt like I got my timing down at the first barrel the past two runs,” said the 2019 WPRA Reserve World Champion and NFR Champion, who tipped second last night. “So, I felt confident there and she’s been so honest and true at the second barrel that I had no worries going into that turn. My mistake last night was just not riding all the way around the turn and clearing her shoulder. I was sure to ride all the way around the turn tonight, and after that her third is really easy, so she just did her deal there. I was very excited after I turned the third barrel to make a clean run.”
This year marks Saebens fifth trip (2016-2019, ’21) to the Wrangler NFR. The Colorado native is thrilled to be back in Las Vegas, but said with the gap between her qualifications that it has taken a minute to get tapped off with the blind first barrel. In fact, at the beginning of the season Saebens’ partner J-Lo was an unlikely candidate to be running at all, let alone running against the best in the world at the NFR.
“I don’t even know if you call it an accident as much as someone just made a huge mistake on trying to take care of her,” said Saebens. “The chances of her coming back were slim to none and the only reason she did is because she’s got the biggest heart of any horse I’ve ever seen. I know there’s other horses that have won more than her and that have more clout, but really the only reason she’s here is that she loves to run barrels and she loves to be the center of attention.”
Accompanying Saebens each night in the alley is her husband, past NFR heeler Billie Jack Saebens. Behind the scenes helping she has Cody O’Donnell, who has helped her at three previous NFR’s.
“Cody takes care of J-Lo out at the place she stays,” said Saebens. “She’s got a really big stall with a turnout, a huge sandy arena she gets turned out in, and a big grassy turnout too. She’s got it going on where she stays. Cody’s awesome help.”
In addition to her husband and O’Donnell, Saebens graciously thanked J-Lo’s owners.
“Of course Kenny and Dale, the owners of J-Lo. They let me feel like J-Lo’s mine. They’ve been very good at sticking with me through all of the hard stuff. They understand rodeo,” she said.
When she moves to the bottom of the draw tomorrow night for round 7, Saebens says she doesn’t have plans to ride her back-up “Reba,” who is sired by A Streak Of Fling and actually out of J-Lo. She said it’s tempting to take a spin in the Thomas & Mack aboard the 5-year-old, but she’s doing so well on the youngster’s dam that Billie Jack has urged her to stick with the one that brought her to the dance.
Two-time NFR qualifier Jordon Briggs moved to the lead in the average tonight with a total on six runs of 82.61 seconds. WPRA World Standings leader Hailey Kinsel is third in the average and has racked up $73,138 in NFR earnings through round 6. With $186,667 in total earnings, Kinsel leads the world standings by roughly $35,000 over second-ranked Briggs.
Follow Barrel Racing Magazine to stay up to speed on our coverage of all the great stories coming out of the 2021 Wrangler NFR. Catch our lengthier interview with Saebens on “The Money Barrel” podcast where she explains the strategy that’s letting her win rounds, her practice routine and how J-Lo’s owners are cooperative and supportive partners.
National Finals Rodeo – Go Round 6 Results
- Ivy Saebens, KN Fabs Gift Of Fame, 13.43, $26,996.97
- Hailey Kinsel, DM Sissy Hayday, 13.55, $21,336.32
- Shelley Morgan, HR FameKissAndTell, 13.56, $16,111.10
- Emily Miller-Beisel, Namgis D33, 13.58, $11,321.31
- Jordon Briggs, Famous Lil Jet, 13.63, $6,966.96
- Lisa Lockhart, Prime Diamond, 13.70, $4,354.35