The Xtreme Million Finals along with the Blackhawk Reunion, held June 15-26 in Salina, Utah, featured the richest open-to-all payout in the country, awarding more than $1.115 million not including $175,000 in prizes. With more than 4,942 entries—707 in the Xtreme Million Race alone—the third annual event drew contestants from 30 states.
Guthrie and James collected $32,061 for two runs. She also collected $6,262 aboard her 6-year-old gelding FurociousLadyChaser (“Mac”). Her total earnings for five runs in Utah totaled $38,323.
“They kept calling it life-changing checks, and at the end of the day, that’s what it really is,” said Guthrie. “It’s really neat to be able to win that kind of money. I knew the top prize was quite a bit, but I had no idea that we had won that much money. When they turned around at the awards ceremony with the huge checks with the amount written on them, it brought tears to my eyes. I was in complete shock. I felt so blessed just to be able to be there. I’m just blown away by what the Xtreme Million producers have done for the barrel racing industry.”
Guthrie shared the win with her trainer and traveling partner Carlos Renato, who owns Waylon James.
“I couldn’t do it without Carlos Renato,” she said. “I have a full-time job as a realtor in Texas. It’s hard to do this rodeo life and work. Carlos keeps the horses in top-notch shape. It really makes it easy for me as a jockey to jump on and go win.”
Guthrie just started riding Waylon James this spring. She made huge waves on the gelding at the Women’s Rodeo World Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, this spring. They’ve been on a hot streak since placing at their first pro rodeo in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and now they’re testing the waters some this summer with a small Fourth of July run.
Rodeos are actually the gelding’s birthright. He was bred by 11-time Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Champion Charmayne James and is by Clayton, a clone of her 10-time World Champion Gills Bay Boy, known worldwide as “Scamper.”
Waylon James’ maternal line is also loaded with James-bred winners. After winning her 11th world championship on Cruisin On Six (“Cruiser”), a son of Streakin Six, James started breeding to sons of the late stallion before she purchased his son Black Dash. Waylon James is out of the Black Dash daughter Shiney Black Dasher, a full sister to Easys Tiny Streak that carried a young Rainey Skelton to her first RFD-TV’s The American semifinals, and a three-quarter sister to Streak Sense, who won the 2013 Better Barrel Races World Finals with Andrea Cline and James Jolly Taylor (“Grasshopper”), James’ personal rodeo mount.
Guthrie said she’s had to work at riding Waylon James.
“I think I’m still learning to ride him if I’m being honest,” she said. “We instantly got along, but I definitely had to get a lot of pointers from Carlos. He knows that horse like the back of his hand. He’s had him a long time and they really share a special bond.
“Really I just follow Carlos’ lead. He’s trained this horse to be really light in the face and easy. You just have to trust him. It’s hard—going 900 miles an hour to a barrel and giving the horse all of the reins! It’s been very, very exciting. Waylon has definitely taught me to be a better rider!”
Running both Mac and Waylon James at Salina, Utah, was challenging for Guthrie. While Mac shined on Saturday, she tipped a barrel on Waylon James because she didn’t have his correct approach to the first barrel.
“Their styles are very different, just complete polar opposites,” she said. “It has been very challenging for me to get off of one and get on the other. It definitely goes better when I just ride the one.”
On Sunday, after a little coaching from Renato, Guthrie opted to only enter Waylon James. The result was the fastest time of the Xtreme Million Final, a 14.839. Up to that point, last year’s champions Harlee Barela and Thlastwicked—who is also by a Streakin Six son—held the lead with a 14.943 posted earlier in the week. “I got my first barrel approach really good and just nailed it,” she said. “He ran across the pen and nailed the second. I knew all I had to do was ride him all the way up into the third. Waylon—all you have to do is ride him up into the turn and leave your hand on his neck and let him do the work. I was really able to stay focused and let him work and do his job. He did and it was a lot of fun.”