Ryann Pedone got a merry surprise just one week before Christmas: the WCRA’s Virtual Rodeo Qualifier $25,000 year-end bonus.
“(The Cowtown Christmas Championships) were close to the house for me, so I just nominated for points,” Pedone said. “I didn’t even realize they were giving away a (VRQ) bonus.”
The Cowtown Christmas Championships took place on December 14-17 in Fort Worth, Texas, and marked the end of the VRQ season, which is open to all contestants who wish to nominate any type of barrel race for any WCRA segment in 2022. By the time Pedone’s husband, Don Lee, realized that the VRQ bonus existed and that she was in the running for it, Pedone had turned out because her most seasoned horse had sustained an injury before the event. Pedone and Lee had already packed up and headed to Perry, Georgia, for an event with a trailer full of young horses.
“He said I was in the lead, but Kassie Mowry had a chance to beat me,” Pedone said. “And I mean, it’s Kassie.”
Pedone had every reason to feel nervous—not only was Mowry fresh off 10 runs at the National Finals Rodeo, she earned over $1 million barrel racing in 2022 alone.
Mowry was No. 1 on the Cowtown Christmas Champiosnhips leaderboard going into the event and therefore was directly seeded into the Triple Crown of Rodeo Showdown Round on December 17. However, the took the option to run in the preliminary round of competition in an effort to earn extra money and points on the VRQ leaderboard. A downed barrel took Mowry’s chance at the points away during that round.
In the Triple Crown of Rodeo Showdown Round, Mowry won first aboard CP He Will Be Epic, earning herself $15,000 for the event win. The announcer and broadcasting mentioned that the win meant that Mowry had also locked up the VRQ bonus—something Pedone heard while watching the event on PBR Ridepass from Georgia.
“I was like super happy for her, obviously, but it was still so cool to think I could have won that bonus money and still been watching it from somewhere else,” Pedone said. “Then, the WCRA text me and said ‘Hey, you actually won it!’ I was like, really? Can I call you guys Monday so I can understand how I did this?”
Training and competing on young barrel horses is Pedone’s main gig. She used that to her advantage and nominated incentive races and futurities with big payouts like the Ruby Buckle and Pink Buckle.
WCRA is helping to bridge the gap between the jackpot, futurity and rodeo industries and Pedone—who is an NFR qualifier on top of being a $2 million-earning jockey— plans to be along for the ride. In 2023 she will have horses like HP Feel the Fame and Thirty Six Roses, her 2022 standout futurity horses, back on the derby trail and is excited for her 2023 string of futurity colts to hit the trail. Pedone is confident that WCRA will be in her plans in 2023 and is already nominating for Fort Worth’s Women’s Rodeo World Championship in May.
“I think the WCRA’s nice for people trying to season out young horses with the points system,” Pedone said. “Then, when you do go to their events, they let you get in the pen, they drag after four and the ground is good. They’re nice people and good businessmen.”
To learn more about the WCRA and the VRQ system, click here.