Teton Ridge rolled out their new format for The American Rodeo qualifying system in an exclusive barrel racing panel held on June 29 virtually.
The corresponding presentation hosted by Better Barrel Races and Teton Ridge outlined a new contender qualifying system with the goal of increasing television exposure for athletes and keeping barrel racers’ money in their pockets. Barrel Racing Magazine will continue to follow this story and provide accurate updates in a timely manner as it evolves, but for now this is what we know.
Note: Even with all the changes, Better Barrel Races will still handle entries and events. The American will also still take place in Arlington, Texas, at AT&T Stadium in 2023.
- The former qualifying events will now be regional Contender Series events. Advancement at that level will still look pretty similar to the old format, except instead of advancing to Cowtown Coliseum for The American Semifinals, up to 95 athletes in each of the eight disciplines will head to a Regional Semifinals.
- The three regions are West, Central and East.
- The Contender Series season will take place between July 1, 2022 and January 31, 2023.
- From the Contender Series, up to 95 athletes will head to the Regional Semifinals and meet up with five seeds from the WPRA World Standings (see below for more info on World Standings advancement.)
- No. 6-15 in the WPRA World Standings will be automatically seeded into respective regional semifinals, five in each. These athletes will have to pay an entry fee.
- From the Regional Semifinals, only 10 will advance to Round 3. However, an additional 30 will advance to the Contender Wildcard Round.
- From the Regional Semifinals, the top 10 athletes will advance to the Regional Finals, along with two athletes from a Redemption Round, held at each Regional Semifinals.
- The Regional Finals will take place in February 2023 and will offer $180,000 in prize money.
On March 7, 2023, the Wildcard round will take place. This round consists of 30 athletes from each Regional Semifinals, eight from each Regional Finals, and four from each Redemption Round—130 athletes in total. One athlete will earn an exemption into the Contender Finals and revive their chances at running at The American Rodeo.
- The top 4 athletes from each Regional Finals will advance to the Contender Finals.
- The Contender Finals will offer $380,000 in prize money.
- It will take place on March 8, 2023.
- The American Rodeo will have one round of 10.
- It will feature the Top Five Tournament Contenders vs. the Top Five WPRA Barrel Racers.
- The top four in each discipline will advance.
- The American Rodeo will have $900,000 guaranteed payout and a $1,000,000 Contender Bonus.
- It will take place on March 11, 2023.
- You can now qualify on as many horses as you would like—as opposed to the former maximum of two per rider.
- Horses can only compete one time in the Contender Tournament semifinals.
- Be sure to check The American Rodeo site for more details and information on July 6.