Around 10:30 P.M. on March 11, fans cheered as Lisa Lockhart and Promise Me Fame Guys won the $100,000 purse in a dramatic four-man shootout round at The American Rodeo—a first for “Levee,” but a third time for South Dakota native Lockhart.
Even though Lockhart arrived to Globe Life Field for her first runs on Saturday as an invite because of her top-five finish in the 2022 WPRA world standings, her day started long before that second run aboard 7-year-old Levee, a 2016 gelding by Aint Seen Nothin Yet x Bar Blue Lass x FC Aboo. She talked Barrel Racing Magazine through the full day and all the moments that made her third The American Rodeo win special.
The $100,000 Day:
- 6 A.M.- 12 P.M. Feeding, Driving and Open Arena
- 12- 5:45 P.M. Meetings and More
- 5:45- 8 P.M. The American Rodeo Long Round
- 8-10:30 P.M. Regroup
- 10:30 P.M. The $100,000 Winning Run
- 10:35 P.M. Now What?
- 10:45 P.M. The Briggs Enter The Chat
- 12:30 A.M. Depart Globe Life
- Sunday Reflection
- The American Rodeo Final Four Results
- The American Rodeo Long Round Results
6 A.M.- 12 P.M. Feeding, Driving and Open Arena
“There’s a lot to the day, and it starts early” Lockhart explained. “There’s a scheduled riding practice from 11 to noon, and I’m staying about an hour and a half from there. So it starts that morning—I’m setting up the horses that I’m leaving behind with extra feed and all that. I needed to get there around 9:30 or 10 to set up my stalls, get checked in and ready so I can be at the arena right at 11 to get my full hour in.”
Lockhart noted that she and other contestants were grateful for the stall barn that producers Teton Ridge had setup in the parking lot for contestants with dirt, shavings and temporary stalls that contestants could use to tie their horses up in a safe space away from the elements and off the concrete parking lot.
12- 5:45 P.M. Meetings and More
“I like to be prepared, organized and structured in what I do,” Lockhart added. “I knew I had some sponsor obligations, meet-and-greets, a contestant meeting and had to care for my horses–so being there early helped make sure I could do all those things without rushing around.”
To get to the six-figure prize, Lockhart had to first finish in the top four in the first round out of 10 athletes. Of those 10, four other barrel racers were in attendance by way of the 2022 standings, and five had qualified through The American Contender Series to comptete. The pattern at Globe Life field had a few potential pain points that Lockhart had identified and prepared for.
5:45- 8 P.M. The American Rodeo Long Round
“I had concerns about it being a little straight to the first,” Lockhart said. “Then, you have to be ready for whatever (your horse) throws at you with the second and third being kind of—not too far out, but kind of out in the middle of nowhere. I think it can be hard for horses as far as depth perception goes when one barrel is on the fence, then they’re kind of expecting that out of the next two but that fence isn’t there. You have to just be prepared to help them out in case they aren’t ready for those turns.”
While the contenders had made multiple runs inside Globe Life that week prior, the top five had another. fresh obstacle to conquer if they wanted to clock well in the unique setup: the black bucking chutes and short alleyway set up inside the roping boxes.
“I did worry about him running up in the alley,” Lockhart said. “My intuition was correct because he did have a hard time finding it. That was a little nerve wracking. I tried to give him confidence to keep going straight and point him in that direction, but it wasn’t really happening on our first run and he kept getting wider—he definitely hesitated, but we found the alley and I didn’t fall off. Those were my main goals.”
Lockhart made it out of the knifefight in the fourth-place position with a 15.461-second run, behind Bayleigh Choate’s 15.460, Jimmie Smith-Tew’s 15.416, and Jordon Briggs’ 15.145-second run that topped the first set.
8-10:30 P.M. Regroup
Then, it was back to the trailer to care of Levee in the nearly 90-degree weather outside.
“It was so hot and humid when the wind died down,” Lockhart said. “So, it was hard for the horses to cool off. I did a lot of brushing, talking to Levee, petting and found a grassy patch to walk him around. Then I waited. The hardest thing is trying to time everything perfectly.”
As she prepared for the short round, Lockhart found herself in a situation many barrel racers can relate to—fighting a trailer dilemma.
She waited during the Cody Johnson concert in between performances and anxiously tried her best to see if the production would run according to the schedule provided to barrel racers. It’s about a seven-minute walk from the stalling area to the arena. Lockhart found herself a tick ahead of schedule and waited in the tunnel with the other top-four barrel racers due to a ride-off happening in the saddle bronc riding between Stetson Wright and Dawson Hays (spoiler alert, Wright got the win).
10:30 P.M. The $100,000 Winning Run
“I knoew how tough it was going to be, but I knew he would have more confidence his second run,” said Lockhart, who ran fourth in the running order. “I wanted to just go as fast as we could to try to get in there with those tough times. Horses can get tight when it’s a straight first barrel like that and I just didn’t want him to crowd it. I ended up having to lift my leg because he came back so hard on his first. On my second, I probably asked him to come back a little hard, too. At that point, I’m going to the third and I’m just thinking that I needed to get by it. I just needed to get him to his spot. So, I rode two-handed a little longer to get him to that spot. He was very sharp and very fast around the third.”
“So, you can’t hear anything when you come out,” Lockhart said. “It’s just a dull roar. I thought they said I was a 15.7 or 15.8 and I was kind of disappointed. Then, I got behind the stock pens and saw the scoreboard. I glanced over my left shoulder and saw the screen to my left, looked up and saw my name at the top. That’s when it hit me. I was in absolute disbelief—it’s hitting me again, just talking about it—I was so surprised. I wasn’t expecting that.”
10:35 P.M. Now What?
The next feeling that set in before Lockhart was a sinking one. She didn’t have anybody on the dirt whom she trusted to take Levee before she was swept away to interviews.
“I started panicking because I didn’t have help,” Lockhart said. “I was riding past and saw some people sitting on a fence. I’m looking for a female, any female. I see Sammy Taylor, a breakaway roper. I didn’t even know who it was at the time, but I just said ‘Can you help me?’ I said here’s his halter, that’s all I got to tell her.”
Lockhart made a statement to the world in that moment—she took off toward the Polaris Ranger to take her victory lap, then doubled back to loosen Levee’s cinch despite the shouts of the production staff.
“They’re yelling ‘You have to go, you have to go up there!'” Lockhart said. “All I could think about was Levee. They let me run back out after the victory lap—at that point, (breakaway roper) Taylor Munsell had him. She had no clue where my stalls or trailer were. Everybody was gone by then.”
10:45 P.M. The Briggs Enter The Chat
When it came down to it, Jordon and Justin Briggs were Lockhart’s first call for help immediately after Jordon’s reserve finish at The American.
“I called Jordon Briggs and asked if there was any way she and Justin could help me,” Lockhart said. “Justin immediately came up and got Levee and I had time to pull his boots off as I called my husband quickly. I’m crying, giving Levee his cookies and then they’re telling me they need me NOW for another interview.”
Lockhart had shavings, a haybag and water bucket prepared by the trailer for Levee, but the Briggs didn’t just drop the gelding off and head out for the evening. Jimmie Smith-Tew later wrote on social media that she witnessed the Briggs take top care of Levee, even before fully caring for Rollo while Lockhart was inside dealing with media obligations in a moment she raved was a display of top-tier sportsmanship. Later, Lockhart’s daughter, Alyssa, and friends made it back to take over.
12:30 A.M. Depart Globe Life
“I got back that night and I was totally spent,” Lockhart said. “It was about an hour-and-a-half long drive and I got home just after 2:00 A.M. Levee was tired. Even the next day, he just kind of sauntered out to his field, he didn’t run out or anything. We were both worn out.”
Here’s what Lockhart wants to relay to fans about her years at The American Rodeo since her first win at the inaugural event at 2014.
Note: Lockhart won the $100,000 The American Rodeo championship on legengary gelding An Oakie With Cash, “Louie,” in 2014 and again on Louie in 2015.
Lockhart nearly didn’t attend the first The American Rodeo in 2014, but she knew she wasn’t missing it in 2023.
“I haven’t been back in a couple years, so I was excited to go back,” Lockhart said. “If I didn’t get invited, I was going to do whatever it took to get through those channels to qualify. I just knew I had the horsepower. Whether it was going to be a setup for (Rosas Cantina CC) or Levee, I wanted to go.”
The American Rodeo Final Four Results
- Lisa Lockhart and Promise Me Fame Guys, 15.248, worth $100,000
- Jordon Briggs and Famous Lil Jet, 15.289, worth $25,000
- Bayleigh Choate and Hail To Be Famous, 15.309. worth $10,000
- Jimmie Smith-Tew and A Valiant Nicky, 15.548, worth $5,000
The American Rodeo Long Round Results
- Jordon Briggs and Famous Lil Jet, 15.145
- Jimmie Smith-Tew and A Valiant Nicky, 15.416
- Bayleigh Choate and Hail To Be Famous, 15.460
- Lisa Lockhart and Promise Me Fame Guys, 15.461
- Wenda Johnson and Steal Money, 15.468
- Latricia Duke and DM High Roller, 15.547
- Hailey Kinsel and VQ Nonstop Stinson, 15.581
- Tamara Barnhart and Guys Sweet Design, 15.971
- Sherry Cervi and MP Ray Of Fame, 19.202
- Shelley Morgan and HR Fameskissandtell, 20.602