Barrel Racer’s Guide to The American Rodeo Contender Finals 2024

Here's all the scoop on the final stop on the tour to a potential $1 million for barrel racers in 2024.
Rylee Jo Maryman American Contender barrel racing
Rylee Jo Maryman is the 16-year-old who topped The American Contender Eastern Regional Finals and will compete in Abilene. The American Rodeo photo by Click Thompson.

On Saturday, Feb. 10, 15 barrel racers will look to keep their dream of earning up to $1 million alive at The American Rodeo Contender Finals in Abilene, Texas, and here’s everything you need to know about how to watch the event, who’s entered and more.

What is The American Contender Finals Rodeo?

Held at Taylor Telecom Arena in Abilene, Texas, on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, The American Contender Finals is the final step in the journey toward a potential life-changing $1 million bonus at the “Crown Jewel of Rodeo,”The American Rodeo on Saturday, March 9, 2024 at Globe Life Field. 

How did contestants qualify to The American Contender Finals?

Barrel racers vying for a spot in The American Contender Finals faced a rigorous qualification process. Athletes had two main avenues to secure their spot at one of three regional finals: The Western, Central, and Eastern events. These regional finals took place over the past two months in Las Vegas, Oklahoma City, and Lexington, Kentucky, respectively.

To earn a coveted spot in the Regional events, barrel racers had to either:

  1. Qualify via WPRA World Standings: Athletes who ranked in the No. 6-20 positions in the WPRA world standings for 2023 had the opportunity to secure a position in one of the three regional events. These positions were randomly split between the Western, Central, and Eastern events, offering a pathway to the next stage of competition.
  2. Succeed at American Qualifier Events: Alternatively, barrel racers could earn their spot by competing at American Qualifier events held across various regions.

Following the tournament-style format of the Regional events, the top five winners from each event emerged as the contenders who would advance to Abilene for The American Contender Finals.

The American Contender Finals event format

The stakes remain high in Abilene as the top 15 barrel racers face a pivotal one-round shootout on Saturday night. With only the fastest five barrel racers advancing to The American Rodeo, scheduled for March 09, the pressure is on to secure a coveted spot.

At The American Rodeo, these top contenders will have the opportunity to vie for a remarkable prize purse of up to $1.1 million ($100,000 event win + $1 million in Contender bonus money that can be split between events if a Contender emerges victorious). However, their path to glory won’t be without formidable competition. Alongside those who earned their spot through The American Contender Series, they’ll also have to contend with the top performers from the 2023 WPRA World Standings.

The top five barrel racers in the world standings, ranging from No. 1 to No. 5, secure direct qualification to The American Rodeo.

How to Watch The American Contender Finals

All the action from Abilene’s Contender Finals will be on Fox Sports 1 on Sunday, Feb. 11 at 1030AM EST.

Which barrel racers are competing at The American Contender Finals?

The following 15 athletes will compete on Saturday night.

Lisa Zachoda

Kathy Grimes

Darian Raupers

Lakken Bice

Kelly Yates

Brandon Cullins

London Gorham

Marrick Moyer

Grace Hancock

Latricia Duke

Rylee Jo Maryman

Emma Parr

Christian Shipley

Liz Pinkston

Mindy Holloway

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