When hometown girl and NFR barrel racing qualifier Sissy Winn entered the American Bank Center Wednesday, May 10, 2023, for Rodeo Corpus Christi the building erupted—but the crowd sang even higher when she went to the lead of the progressive round with a 14.500-second run.
The $1,600 Winn earned for topping the performance won’t be going in her diesel tank—Winn lives less than 20 miles from Corpus Christi in Chapman Ranch, Texas.
“It’s so nice because I grew up here,” Winn (25) said. “I did the mutton busting, I was a rodeo queen, I carried the American flag. I did hometown feels. You do all of it. And coming back and seeing all the volunteers, everybody that has a hand in the little things that make it a big thing to make the rodeo happen. And they’ll say, ‘Oh, I remember when you were just a little kid.’ It’s just really special to go back and feel like it’s family. And I’m just excited that I get another chance to hopefully smoothen things out and see everybody again Saturday.”
While Winn has had her fair share of high-pressure situations, her equine counterpart, JL I Am Reddy, has not.
“I’m really proud of him,” Winn said. “That was like our third perf this year, and I was just really focused on getting across to the second, and obviously we definitely did that. I know it was wild, but I know he’ll settle in, and I just need to relax some more and make sure he is confident but slow him down, his brain, just a little bit and I need to slow mine down.”
“Ted,” is a 6-year-old gelding by JL Reddy To Charm and out of JL Seraphina x Dash Ta Fame that Winn purchased from decorated trainer Mark Bugni. Bugni futuritied him his four-year-old year, but the horse was sidelined due to a hoof injury. Winn is working to catch Ted up while learning how to jockey the quick horse in varied setups.
“I’m going to take him this summer, and I need to get to know him,” Winn said. “I’ve only ran him like five times this year, and I need to see what he is going to do in the performances, the carnivals, all of it. It’s just seasoning. I rode (AR Dash Ta Flame) Scoop through the whole winter—that’s the main goal for what I want to do this year, but I need to see what Ted’s going to do and how he’s going to help the team.”
Winn had some concerns about the tight setup inside the American Bank Center.
“I was so worried about the first barrel,” Winn admitted. “Mark makes it look so easy. Mark will sit a little bit earlier when Ted’s rolling in there and I was really just focusing when I got to the barrel to just sit down, and he nailed it. And then I was so excited, I was like, ‘Well, I better hustle! I better get up in that second.’ And I was like, ‘Shoot. He listens very well.’ So, I wanted a smooth run, obviously. It was a little wild, but it worked. And we were clean, and I was just proud of him, even though it was crazy, he really honestly did what I asked.”
Although Winn overshot her second barrel slightly, her recovery was smooth and Ted’s speed made up for the bobble. Coming in behind Winn in the No. 2 position was Oklahoma’s Hazlee McKenzie and “BB,” with a 14.549-second trip.
Winn was seeded in the top four of the WCRA’s Rodeo Corpus Christi Virtual Rodeo Qualfiier leaderboard, so she was able to skip past the preliminary round that took place for the top 48 open barrel racers and top eight Division Youth barrel racers just down the road from the American Bank Center on May 9 and get seeded directly into the progressive performance.
To qualify for Corpus, she nominated major winter rodeos like the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo and RodeoHouston to get to earn her leaderboard position. Winn schedules two WCRA events into her busy ProRodeo schedule each year because of the opportunities presented by the associaiton.
“It’s nice to run at big money and not have to travel far,” Winn said. “For me, (Rodeo Corpus Christi and the Women’s Rodeo World Championship) work best (in May)—before it gets really hot. I just try to pick it where it’s right before the summer and we could still keep everybody in shape and everybody sharp.”
Winn will run again Saturday night in the Triple Crown of Rodeo Round, where she’ll focus on smoothing out the run.
“I’m just needing to help him more,” Winn said. “Because he is a baby and I need to remember, I’m not on Scoop, and I need to hustle, but I need to make him feel relaxed and help him where I need to help him faster because people like don’t get it, that this is a very tough pen for experienced horses.”
Rodeo Corpus Christi Barrel Racing Results: Wednesday, May 10
Athletes with a * will advance to Saturday’s Triple Crown of Rodeo Round
- Sissy Winn, 14.500-second run, worth $1,600
- Hazlee McKenzie, 14.549, worth $1,200
- Mallee Jones, 14.740, worth $800
- Cassidy Deen, 19.038, worth $400