The Top 15 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifiers rely on the grittiest and most freakishly talented horsepower in the world to win at the highest level of the sport. The Women’s Professional Rodeo Association’s best rely on proven racing and performance bloodlines for their success, and fans can expect to see these superstars soar to greater stardom in Las, Vegas, Nevada, December 1-10, 2022.
No. 1 Jordon Briggs, $177,779 regular season earnings – Famous Lil Jet (“Rollo”), One First Class Lady (“Lola”) and Roll O Lena (“Camo”)
Defending world champ Jordon Briggs’ No. 1 mount, Famous Lil Jet, “Rollo,” has earned household name status in the Western industry. Sired by Dash Ta Fame and out of the powerhouse daughter of Blazin JetOlena, Blazin Black Beauty, Busby-bred Rollo is barrel racing royalty. Blazin Black Beauty is out of the great Lady Perks, the 2004 Barrel Futurities of America reserve world champion and earner of more than $250,000 herself.
“It’s really crazy that I got a gold buckle last year before I was even able to get in the big winter rodeos like Houston. The reason I got a gold buckle is because the COVID cancellations made it to where I could heal up from my broken ankle and rodeo in the summer and still make up ground. It’s really a good feeling this year to be able to jump out and get into the big rodeos and get more won early in the season.” — Jordon Briggs
Maternal lines run deep with Briggs’ mother being barrel racing icon Kristie Peterson. The Peterson’s beloved Bozo brought industry-changing notoriety to his three-quarter brother Frenchmans Guy (Sun Frost x Frenchmans Lady x Laughing Boy), who became a barrel horse sire for the ages.
Briggs says she plans to have Rollo’s sibling One First Class Lady, aka “Lola,” with her in Vegas. As a futurity horse, Lola carried Briggs to major victories at events like the Better Barrel Races World Finals Futurity, Kinder Cup and the Colorado Classic Futurity. She will also haul homegrown Roll O Lena (Mr Cinnamon Roll x Stoli And Cream x Stoli) to the NFR.
Fun Maternal Fact: Lola’s dam GL Famous First Lady (Dash Ta Fame x Lady Perks) is a full sibling to Kassie Mowry and Michael Boone’s NFR qualifier Famous Ladies Man.
No. 2 Dona Kay Rule, $127,442 regular season earnings – High Valor (“Valor”)
Dona Kay Rule and her Appendix registered gelding High Valor are bound for their fourth NFR. In 2021, Rule rode Valor exclusively and won multiple go rounds en route to finishing sixth in the aggregate and fifth in the world with $195,575.
Valiant Hero (First Down Dash x Corona Chick x Chicks Beduino), a multiple Graded Stakes winner of more than $668,000 (Equibase), is Valor’s sire. Valor’s dam Rare High by Rare Form was also an earner of more than $30,000 (Equibase) on the track.
No. 3 Wenda Johnson, $121,594 regular season earnings – MacGyver Moonflash (“Mac”) and Steal Money (“Mo”)
Wenda Johnson makes her third NFR appearance thanks to two standout geldings sired by First Moonflash. The 2013 bay gelding MacGyver Moonflash, “Mac,” set back-to-back arena records in Dickies Arena during the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo back in February and earned major checks at rodeos like Days of ’47 in July. The 6-year-old Steal Money, “Mo,” closed out the season winning Stephenville, Texas. Known for his record-setting speed, Mo carried Johnson to the Round 4 win at the 2021 NFR. Between the two geldings she earned $70,961 at last year’s NFR.
In August via Facebook, Highpoint Performance Horses announced that that the two standouts had joined their program: “Thank you Tres Mesa Horses for allowing us to own these incredible individuals. We are looking forward to new adventures with Wenda, Mac & Mo!”
No. 4 Stevi Hillman, $120,602 regular season earnings – Cuatro Fame (“Truck”) and French Zone (“Hollywood”)
Stevi Hillman achieved her seventh NFR qualification due in no small part to the 6-year-old standout and 2021 NFR go-round winner Famous Lemon Drop owned by Matt and Bendi Dunn, who tragically succumbed to colic while in the Northwest this summer. In the style of a true champion, Hillman finished the 2022 regular season strong thanks to the gritty veteran gelding Cuatro Fame, “Truck.” According to her husband Ty, Stevi will have French Zone, “Hollywood,” owned by Highpoint Performance Horses at the NFR and potentially a youngster, RV Brijett.
No. 5 Hailey Kinsel – DM Sissy Hayday (“Sister”) and DH Jess Stellar (“Jules”)
While rodeo fans pondered all summer long why Hailey Kinsel’s great mare “Sis” or “Sister” wasn’t hot on the trail with the three-time WPRA World Champion (2018-2020), her jockey was out on the road with DH Jess Stellar and two youngsters—and not in the least bit worried about it. Sis announced that she was back at the Caldwell Night Rodeo in August, stopping the clock in 17.27-seconds to win the round and kick-start a dominant assault on the Northwest. Approximately $44,000 of Kinsel’s regular season money was earned in the final quarter of 2022.
Helping Kinsel at her sixth consecutive NFR will be Women’s Rodeo World Championship winner DH Jess Stellar. “Jules,” who is by Mighty Jess and out of PC Frosted Stellar, by Sun Frost, was raised and is owned by Hodges Farms, and had a successful futurity career with Janna Beam Brown before being placed with Kinsel in 2020. Kinsel earned checks throughout the season riding youngsters VQ Nonstop Stinson “Valentina,” owned by Jeff Varner, and TR Judges Doll, “Reese,” but says Sis and Jules will likely be her main mounts in Vegas.
No. 6 Shelley Morgan, $110,461 – HR Famekissandtell (“Kiss”) and Kinda Heavenly (“Phoebe”)
Shelley Morgan had a hot summer run, capturing her fourth Greeley Stampede title to kick off the Fourth of July. She and Kiss banked $14,079 in Greeley, then placed at both St. Paul, Oregon, and Cody, Wyoming, to be the second-highest earners over the Fourth of July run with $20,868.
Sired by CEO (Bugged With Honor x Imafasterdancer x Shoot Yeah) HR FameKissAndTell is out of the Dash Ta Fame daughter Fames Fiery Kiss.
Morgan’s backup is the 7-year-old mare Kinda Heavenly. Her sire JL Dash Ta Heaven is owned by Whitmire Ranch and was bred by the late leading breeder Jud Little. JL Dash Ta Heaven was an NFR qualifier himself with Benette Little and is out of the WPRA World Champion Dynas Plain Special.
The First Down Dash Influence: Dash Ta Fame, by First down Dash, appears no less than six times on the maternal side and nine times on the sire side of the NFR pedigrees reviewed for this report. Dash Ta Fame sired the most NFR horses at five: Rollo, Truck, Scoop, Dash and Preacher. Dash Ta Fame is not the only First Down Dash son to sire NFR qualifiers or their dams. Others include: Valiant Hero, Stoli, Eddie Stinson, Carrizzo, JL Dash Ta Heaven, Central Station, Royal Quick Dash, Holland Ease and grandson First Moonflash.
No. 7 Sissy Winn, $101,848 – ChewingTheHotWire, (“Chewy”) and A R Dash Ta Flame (“Scoop”)
The 2021 Texas Circuit Finals Champion and her steady partner “Chewy,” are bound for their first NFR. Chewy and Winn ascended the WPRA standings through the winter months, then in April the 2013 sorrel gelding Scoop joined their team. Scoop is a product of multiple NFR qualifier and BFA World Futurity Champion Danyelle Campbell’s program. Winn and Scoop showed out immediately, topping the second round in Clovis, California, then carrying their winning trend through summer at rodeos like Livingston, Montana, the Calgary Stampede and more.
History Making Bloodlines: ChewingTheHotWire’s sire Flaming Fire Water, himself an AQHA Superior Barrel Horse, carries barrel racing history in his veins. His maternal grandam Otoe Glo Miss was the 1973 Texas Barrel Racing Association Barrel Futurity Champion winning both go rounds and average as a 2-YEAR-OLD with his 12-year-old rider, Shanna Bush, daughter of rodeo icon Wanda Harper Bush and National Cutting Horse Association Hall of Famer Stanley Bush.
No. 8 Margo Crowther, $96,973 – Shes Packin Fame (“Sissy”), DG Excuse My French and Im Stylin Like Sissy
In the final month of the regular season Floridian Margo Crowther won the NFR Playoff Series Finale in Puyallup, Washington, to secure her first trip to the NFR. Crowther’s 10-year-old sorrel mare Shes Packin Fame is the Southeastern Circuit standout’s main mount.
Crowther’s NFR backups are DG Excuse My French owned by Cassidy Champlin, and Sissy’s appropriately named sibling Im Stylin Like Sissy, owned by Crowther.
NFR Freshman Sire Alert: Carrizzo appears to be a newcomer to NFR sire status. The 2002 Dash Ta Fame son was ridden by Talmadge Green and Jeremy Moore to win 15 AQHA Barrel Racing Points and his Open ROM. Carrizzo has sired the 2017 Fort Smith Super Derby Champion, rodeo winners, circuit finalists, American Rodeo qualifiers and NBHA champions.
No. 9 Emily Miller Beisel, $93,973 – Namgis D 33 (“Chongo”), Namgis D 56 (“Foxy”), Biddin On Fame (“Beau”) and Namgis D 35 (“Pipewrench”)
Beisel will set out for her fifth NFR with four familiar mounts, three of which represent the Hondo, Texas-based Namgis Quarter Horses bloodline.
The 12-year-old gray gelding Namgis D 33, “Chongo,” is sired by Bucks Hancock Dude and out of Track Goddess. Beisel and Chongo teamed up to win NFR Round 5 in 2021. Beisel earned $129,091 and split fourth in the aggregate with Hillman at last year’s Finals.
Chongo is backed up by Namgis D 56, “Foxy,” a 9-year-old mare also by Bucks Hancock Dude and out of Central Station. Foxy and Namgis D 35, “Pipewrench,” are full siblings. Biddin On Fame, “Beau,” is an 8-year-old gelding by PC Frosty Bid and out of Jaxsons Olympic Fame. Beisel says that if plans go awry with her veteran mounts, she has a young horse by the name of Ivory On Fire that could make the trip if necessary.
Fun Paternal Fact: Bucks Hancock Dude earned AQHA Superiors in tie-down roping and heeling as well as the 2007 AQHA Reserve World Champion Junior Tie-down title. The versatile sire has produced earners of $823,145 across multiple disciplines.
No. 10 Kassie Mowry, $92,553 – Famous Ladies Man (“Emmitt”)
Mowry shot to No. 6 in the WPRA World Standings as of August 15 with just 19 rodeos. The consummate full-time futurity trainer had to rework her schedule for the remainder of rodeo’s regular season in order to make it to the requisite 25 rodeos needed to fulfill her count. With an arsenal of the toughest aged event horses in the country in her barn Mowry and Emmitt will be well backed up at the NFR.
“I always want to get into Houston because I just love Houston. So that was my goal this year and my horse just kind of hit a home run at Calgary and put me in a different situation I didn’t see coming. Famous Ladies Man, he’s won 100 percent of my rodeo money this year.” — Kassie Mowry
No. 11 Bayleigh Choate (R), $90,470 – TJR Stinson Blue (“Boozer”), LK Heza Fame (“Preacher”) and Hail To Be Famous (“Dash”)
Her steady climb to the top of the WPRA Resistol Rookie of the Year standings demanded notice in 2022. Then Texan Bayleigh Choate really turned heads when she blasted into the top 15 and was there to stay after winning every round at the Ponoka Stampede in Alberta with Hail To Be Famous, then placing at Williams Lake, British Columbia; Raymond and Airdrie, Alberta, to be the high Fourth of July money winner with $26,267.
Choate started out her season with Boozer, a 5-year-old bay roan bred by Cody and Luann Johnson’s Twisted J Ranch, Dublin, Texas. Choate bought Boozer in April of his 3-year-old year and had success with him as her first futurity horse. She says Boozer prefers the rodeo life because he loves crowds, which should make him a prime candidate for the packed Thomas & Mack Center arena.
LK Heza Fame came from Aimee Kay’s program and Hail To Be Famous was trained by Kassie Mowry.
No. 12 Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, $88,432 – Babe On The Chase (“Birdie”) and Rock On Guys (“Lefty”)
The two-time WPRA World Champion (2006-2007) and 16-time NFR qualifier bred and raised both of her main horses. Babe On The Chase, “Birdie,” owned by Teton Ridge Ranch, is backed up by Rock On Guys, a 4-year-old futurity colt sired by Pozzi-Tonozzi’s stallion A Guy With Proof.
No. 13 Jessica Routier, $86,864 – Fiery Miss West (“Missy”)
Owned and bred by Gary Westergren, Fiery Miss West is by the late Firewater Frenchman and out of Frenchmans Bo Dashus, by Royal Quick Dash. Firewater Frenchman was sired by the legendary Fire Water Flit and out of the only full sister to Bozo, PCFrenchmansLisbet.
No. 14 Lisa Lockhart, $84,876 – Rosas Cantina CC (“Rosa”), Prime Diamond (“Cutter”) and Promise Me Fame Guys (“Levee”)
Lisa Lockhart kept rodeo fans on the edge of their collective seats when she placed at six rodeos during the last 10 days of the regular season to earn $7,098 and move from No. 16 to No. 14 clinching her 16th trip to the NFR. Lockhart relies on three standout equine athletes. Alan Woodbury’s 12-year-old buckskin mare “Rosa,” and Lockhart’s 11-year-old black gelding “Cutter” have NFR earnings to their credit, while Teton Ridge Ranch’s “Levee” made his go-round debut last year. Tenley Epperson trained Levee and he was futuritied by Samantha Flannery Flannery won the 2021 Ruby Buckle Open 1D Futurity reserve champion with Levee whose earnings exceed $141,000.
NFR Freshman Sire Alert: Aint Seen Nothin Yet adds NFR sire to his growing list of accolades. The 2008 palomino stallion is a money earning barrel horse and sire of multiple arena record holders, open, aged event and rodeo winners with limited crops of performance age.
No. 15 Leslie Smalygo, $84,453 – JustaHeartBeatToFame (“Gus”)
A grandson of the great Lanes Leinster (SI 101) and out of the Dash Ta Fame mare Yawl A Fame Maker, Leslie Smalygo’s JustaHeartBeatToFame kept her in the standings with short round qualifications and big checks at everywhere from Reno Rodeo to Cheyenne Frontier Days, the NFR Open, NFR Playoff Series Finale and many more.
Fun Paternal Fact: Lanes Leinster was a Stakes winner of $342,780 that placed in five Grade 1 Races as a 2-year-old and sired offspring with more than $1.8 million in earnings.
NFR Freshman Sire Alert: JustaHeartBeatOfAWarrior has gained NFR sire status thanks to Smalygo’s Gus. The 2002 AAA stallion with a 98 SI is owned by Ann Hansen and stands in West Haven, Utah.
Eighteen geldings and 15 mares appear on this list of NFR horses. Stay tuned for further analysis as we count down the days until the curtain opens on NFR 2022.