What is the WCRA and How Can Barrel Racers Play? (Part 1)

Everybody's talking about the World Champions Rodeo Alliance, but what is this elusive association, and how can barrel racers take advantage of the lucrative payouts?
Ivy Saebens Barrel Racing
Ivy Saebens at the Women's Rodeo World Championship. Image courtesy WCRA by Bull Stock Media.

Since the World Champions Rodeo Alliance came around in 2018, it’s been a source of confusion for rodeo athletes, so here’s the 101 to the elusive association, descriptions of basic terms and more to help barrel racers understand how they can get in on the action.

What is the WCRA?

According to the WCRA,

“Since launching in May of 2018, the World Champions Rodeo Alliance (WCRA) and its partners have awarded millions in new money to rodeo athletes. Qualifying is based on points, rather than dollars won, through our world ranking points system.

The WCRA is a professional sport and entertainment entity, created to develop and advance the sport of rodeo by aligning all levels of competition. In association with PBR, WCRA produces major rodeo events, developing additional opportunities for rodeo industry competitors, stakeholders and fans.”

Here’s the translation….

For most of the year, think of the WCRA as a sidepot that’s just in the background—a floating association. They don’t require co-sanctioning with any associations, there’s no membership fees. But, they have “Triple Crown of Rodeo,” events that happen throughout the year, which are comparitive bonus finals.

So how do I enter WCRA events?

The ticket to entry in the WCRA is the nomination process through their online system.

You can choose to just go to one and nominate for that single event, or you can nominate to multiple on one entry and try to hit all of their events in a given year.

The WCRA just makes sense to me. It allows me to nominate any event, anywhere, anytime—regardless if it’s a WPRA rodeo, open rodeo, or I’ve got multiple horses on the trailer at a barrel race. So, not only do I get to compete at events I planned on entering, but with WCRA I get to double dip and earn points to make a segment finals. On top of the payout at the event, I’m also eligible for weekly bonuses. The WCRA is like, it’s own sidepot in a sense.

Multiple-time First Frontier Circuit Finals qualifier, Madison Ann Iager

So, how do barrel racers nominate and earn points in the WCRA?

The Virtual Rodeo Qualifier System

Think of the VRQ your call-in office to nominate for WCRA points. You can access the VRQ through the WCRA’s website or app. The site has a list of all rodeos, jackpots, futurities and other events that are in the database and you can select which event you’re attending.

If you don’t win money at the event, the WCRA will still award consolation points in small amounts. Think of WCRA or VRQ points as adjusted earnings to help rank WCRA members in a specific event segment leaderboard. The WCRA looks at the size of the event, total payout and number of places paid out to assign a point value to the athlete’s placing at the event instead of looking at dollars won. Athletes are ranked by total points in Triple Crown of Rodeo event leaderboards. For example, here’s the top five athletes in the 2023 Rodeo Corpus Christi leaderboard.

Want more information on VRQ points? Use this points calculator to see how many points are possible at your next event and learn more about the points system.

Note: At this time, only female athletes are permitted to nominate and earn points through the WCRA in the barrel racing.

When can I nominate for Triple Crown of Rodeo events?

Great news. The WCRA puts the nomination dates right on the leaderboards, so it’s always front and center. The app also alerts athletes to which events are open at which times. Athletes can expect segments to stay open for six months prior to the event, and they usually close about a month before the event.

Find nomination dates for Triple Crown of Rodeo Leaderboards here.

You can earn points in event segments, which are selected at the time of nomination. The events will have different codes for the Triple Crown of Rodeo events. There are different times during the year that segments are open.

Right now, nominations are open until April 09 for Rodeo Corpus Christi, until April 09 for the Women’s Rodeo World Championship, and nominations JUST opened for Rodeo Carolina, the upcoming rodeo bringing more money than ever to the rodeo community East of the Mississippi River.

Wait…what if the event I’m entering isn’t on the VRQ list?

No problem. Chances are, the team at WCRA just doesn’t know it’s happening. You can nominate any event in the WCRA app and the team will find out for you what classification the event is and plug points in accordingly.

For more information on adding an event in the app and the formal process, click here.

“If you play, you can win. It’s confusing at first, but (WCRA staff) are so nice and you can call and they’ll explain everything to you about it. I am a slow learner, but I just started nominating and got into it.”

$2-Million-earning trainer and NFR Qualifier Ryann Pedone

Why does the classification matter?

Events in different brackets award a different number of points. They also have different price points to nominate. For example, RodeoHouston, which featured multiple rounds of competition and paid out $50,000 for the championship will cost more to nominate and award more points than a $500 added 4D barrel race down the street.

Here’s where you can gind the classification breakdown for D1-D5 events.

Can barrel racers earn points in the 2D-5D at races?

Earning points in the 1D at divisional races earns the athlete WCRA points. Unfortunately, there is no system in place for other divisions at this time.

Why is it worth it to earn VRQ points?

Not only are VRQ points your ticket to qualifying for major events, playing can mean bonus money for the athlete, even if they don’t actually go to any WCRA events.

Wait, what?

That’s right. Anytime you nominate an entry into any barrel racing competition, the earned points go to a year-long total in a separate leaderboard. At the end of the WCRA year, the athletes with the most points earned all year long have big chances at bonus money and prizes.

See the Reliance Ranches VRQ Bonus leaderboard here.

Take it from Ryann Pedone, who nominated all year long and didn’t have a chance to attend any WCRA events, but got a surprise call about a major win. Pedone won the 2022 VRQ year-end bonus, worth $25,000 and didn’t even know she was eligible for the bonus.

Read: Ryann Pedone’s $25,000 WCRA Surprise

Here’s the simplest version: You can pay a small fee, just like a sidepot anywhere you’re already running barrels, become eligible for cash bonuses during the year and qualify for events that have BIG payouts, no age or breeding restrictions, and drag every five.

Are you ready to play the WCRA game and learn about 2023 events? Click here.

Want to learn more?