Previous NFR qualifier, Stephanie Fryar had a good feeling about her Wednesday night run at the 2022 Cowtown Christmas Championship in Fort Worth, Texas.
“I know when he stands there and licks his lips before he goes in, he’s going to be Fast Frank,” Fryar explained. “If he’s bug-eyed and watching, then he’s Ratey Frank. He was licking his lips tonight.”
Fryar was right about Fast Frank. He turned in the quickest time of his performance on Wednesday, December 15 with a 13.386, punched his ticket to the Showdown Round and earned $1,600.
Fast Frank, or “Frank,” is registered Some Streakin French and by Frenchmans Fabulous. He turned into first string after Fryar lost her standout gelding, Streakin Ta By Fame, “Romeo,” in September 2022. 7-year-old “Frank,” was a traveling buddy and constant companion to Romeo before he died. When Frank proved he could handle the pressure without his companion, Fryar found herself in awe of the kind, red horse.
“I don’t know how, but this horse literally has stepped up and is trying to hold his own by himself,” Fryar said. “I owe him the world.”
Fryar notably came in full speed up the long Cowtown Coliseum tunnel—quite faster than the other cowgirls opted to cross the mouth of the alley on night one.
“It’s his choice,” Fryar said of running in the arena full speed. “Whether I’m walking or running, I know exactly where my spot is to ride to, where my eyes go. It’s all about knowing those spots and those angles so I can adjust no matter where he takes off. ”
Fryar’s confidence comes in part from years of experience in Cowtown Coliseum. eHer first and second turns were effortless, but things got wild at the third barrel, when Fryar released her reins and grabbed the steel drum partially behind her horse.
‘I chickened out,” Fryar said of the turn. “And then I got real scared, so I just let go and went for the barrel.”
Fryar admitted that she was gunshy from downing the third turn on the backside at the Tammy Kidd Memorial Race at Cowtown Coliseum just weeks prior. Her internal dialogue was loud during the run.
“I didn’t really care if I fell off, I was just going for the barrel,” Fryar remembered. “I was like ‘Frank, I’ll be there shortly! You just keep going.”
Fryar has been a fixture at nearly event WCRA event in the past several years and has come to enjoy the repreive from the hard, full-time rodeo road.
“I love the WCRA,” Fryar said. “You can go run for money without having to drive 40,000 miles in three months—and it’s good money,” Fryar said.
Fryar’s run upset Andrea Cline’s 13.381-second run for No. 1, but Cline will still earn an advancing position and $1,200. In the No. 3 slot, Mallee Jones clocked a 13.461 but will not advance. Jones earned $800 for the run, and Madison Iager took home $400 for her 13.517 run that landed in fourth place.
Fryar and Cline will join No. 1 seeded athlete, Kassie Mowry and the four cowgirls who snag qualifications in the remaining two performances in the Showdown Round on Saturday.
Not all barrel racers favor the format that calls for barrel racers to make two runs within a few hours of one another, like Saturday’s Showdown and Triple Crown of Rodeo rounds demonstrate, but Fryar is eager to strike.
“I wish they still had an extra round,” Fryar said. “Frank is the kind that if you keep telling him to turn around and do it again, he’ll do it. And he just keeps getting stronger. He loves it.”