First Time in Fort Worth Yields $27,000 Payday for Sara Winkelman and Fairway Ta Fame

Here's how Sara Winkelman and Rory brought home the FWSSR title on their first appearance at Dickies Arena.
Sara Winkelman at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo
Sara Winkelman earned the 2024 FWSSR win. FWSSR Photo by James Phifer/RodeoBum

Sara Winkelman and Fairway Ta Fame let the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo know they won’t be denied in 2024 and put on a stunning performance en route to clinching the 2024 barrel racing title.

This isn’t just Sara Winkelman’s first FWSSR win—it represented her first trip to an invitational winter rodeo, and her first time running inside Dickies Arena.

“I watched Bracket 1 and tried to figure out what was going on (in Dickies Arena),” Winkelman said. “I saw a lot of horses struggle with their right-handed first barrel. So, I took Rory into practice the morning before we ran and showed him the path, let him get familiar with the arena. Then we went for it that night!”


When you’re first out on the ground in the finals at @fwssr, you’ve got two options: Play it safe or send it. And with $20,000 on the line, Minnesota’s Sara Winkelman and Fairway Ta Fame, “Rory,” sent it to clock a 16.40 at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo and take home $20,000. Story to follow at link in bio, but you can see full results and pedigrees on all eight barrel racing horses from last night’s short round at the link in bio. #BarrelRacing #ProRodeo #Cowgirl #FWSSR

♬ Legends Are Made – Sam Tinnesz

“Rory,” and Winkelman kicked off Fort Worth in Bracket 2 with a third-place finish in 16.63 second—their personal slowest of the tournament— worth $1,000, then won the second progressive section in 16.48 seconds, earning another $2,000. After a quick trip back to Minnesota, then North to Rodeo Rapid City, Winkelman came back to Fort Worth to clock the fastest time of the entire 2024 FWSSR tournament in 16.26 seconds, adding $4,000 more to her earnings at the top of the ground.

When Winkelman saw that she drew the first-gunner position once again in the short round, she couldn’t help but smile.

“I was feeling so blessed,” Winkelman said. “That’s a great place to be, and to draw it two nights in a row? It did a lot for my confidence.”

Winkelman capitalized on her draw, stopping the clock in 16.40 seconds, which held through the field of eight talented ladies to earn the $20,000 finals win. In total, Winkelman added $27,000 to her 2024 WPRA earnings, putting her name on the 2024 WPRA world standings in the No. 2 position.

With her two children, aged 6 and 4 by her side, Winkelman is pumped up to make her first appearance at the rest of the winter invitational rodeos like San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo and RodeoHouston. Winkelman plans to adjust her strategy for 2024 thanks to the massive boost up the standings.

“For (Rory) and I, it’s not about the attention or the fame. Nothing like that. He’s my best friend.”

Sara Winkelman

The Rory Story

Rory was special from the start for Sara Winkelman. His dam, Fair Lady Perks was deepy special to Winkelman, and Rory was her first and only foal before she passed while carrying his unborn sibling the year after his birth.

“Growing up, my dad and I raised a lot of horses,” Winkelman said. “But we had never had tragedy like that. I thought if I bred this mare that I loved, she would be fine. But that’s not how it went. So, Rory’s my one and only in a lot of ways. It makes him all the more special to me.”


“He’s my best friend.” Sara Winkelman and Fairway Ta Fame, “Rory,” went 16.26 seconds in Semifinals B last night to earn $4,000 for the fastest time of @fwssr 2024 so far. They’ll return as one of eight barrel racing teams in the Finals tonight in Fort Worth. See full results and the pedigrees of all eight horses competing this evening at the link in bio, brought to you by @Equinety. #BarrelRacing #FWSSR #SaraWinkelman #Cowgirl #ProRodeo

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After finding success in the futurity ranks, Winkelman purchased her permit and filled it at WPRA-sanctioned races before her 2021 WPRA Resistol Rookie season, where she qualified to Lexington, Kentucky’s Great Lakes Circuit Finals. She returned to the GLCF in 2022 and clinched the aggregate win, qualifying her for the NFR Open in ’23 and giving her the confidence to put her career on hold as a speech pathologist to pursue full-time professional barrel racing.

Fast forward to the tail end of 2023, and Winkelman narrowly missed out on a qualifying positon to the NFR. So, how does a barrel racer go from a ProRodeo newcomer to a ranking amongst the toughest professionals in the game in just a few years?

“You have to just go for it,” Winkelman said. “Find somebody who’s been there and can help, and ask them questions. You only live once, so you’ve got to go if that’s what’s been put on your heart.”

WPRA World standings

As of Feb. 5, 2024

1Hailey KinselCotulla, TX$27,998.196
2Sara WinkelmanBig Lake, MN$27,000.003
3Ashley CastleberryMontgomery, TX$21,585.059
4Abby PhillipsMarshall, TX$20,843.8711
5Sissy WinnChapman, TX$19,931.416
6Katie Jo HalbertPort Lavaca, TX$18,381.246
7Taylor CarverBroxton, GA$18,198.305
8Rainey SkeltonLlano, TX$16,813.9510
9Tayla MoeykensThree Forks, MT$16,750.534
10Brittany Pozzi TonozziLampasas, TX$16,203.728
11Chloe GrayYatesville, GA$14,442.838
12Sadie Wolaver-TroyerWeatherford, OK$13,752.077
13Lisa Lockhart (G)Oelrichs, SD$13,087.444
14Preslie ReidSan Angelo, TX$12,971.8114
15Maggie PoloncicGillette, WY$12,629.464
16Jymmy Kay Cox (G)Ruidoso Downs, NM$12,625.893
17Skyla PetersLiberal, KS$12,417.135
18Shelley MorganEustace, TX$12,154.889
19Halyn LideChina Spring, TX$11,328.5812
20Andrea BusbyMillsap, TX$10,770.027