It had everybody and their duck out in the stands to watch Dana Lovell aboard JG Hectors Infinity claim the $6,880 slot race grand prize but it was the infectious smile of nine-year-old Josie Young who won $5,160 in the 3D event that stole the show.
Lovell, who hails from Cypress County, Alberta, won the 2022 Aurora Wind Feeds/BUCKEYE Nutrition Slot Race 1D with a time of 17.891, followed by Kerri Manes on Sweet Chili Heat in second place with a time of 17.907 (won $5,160,) and in third Rusty Woodward aboard Blaze N Perks with a time of 17.919 (won $3,440).
“I’ve never won this kind of money before; it’s incredible,” Lovell said moments after being presented her prize winning cheque.
Lovell said she was happy to come to Moose Jaw as it has been an off year for her and her 14-year-old horse JG Hectors Infinity.
“Yeah, actually my horse has been out all year and we run CCA (Canadian Cowboy Association). This year he wasn’t feeling good…he had surgery and hasn’t been feeling good. This was our last run of the year and we hadn’t made many runs this year. We did a few in the last couple of weeks so I am feeling incredibly happy and good about it,” she said.
Lovell said she had attended the event alone between her work as an air ambulance pilot.
She said she had already phoned family back at home and “they were super happy. They couldn’t believe it.”
“I just lucked out and it was my time.”
Lovell said it was great to win in the last run of the year.
“This is my first big win in slot racing. My horse has been CCA champion in 2019 and 2021 but normally we stick with the rodeo stuff…but we came to Moose Jaw and it all worked out…I have won before in rodeo championships.”
Despite the drop in numbers versus last year, co-organizer of the event Kara Drake said the committee is very happy with this year’s event.
“It was awesome,” Drake said about the 2022 event.
Last year’s higher numbers can be attributed to the COVID - 19 pandemic and the inability for barrel racers to attend other events due to restrictions. That allowed for a four-day event versus this year’s two-day event.
“With things opening up here different associations were able to run this year that couldn’t last year; that took away from some of our numbers and the price of fuel. People that were farther away and some of the Alberta people just weren’t driving this far this year,” she said.
Despite JG Hectors Infinity being 14 years old, older for a competition horse, Lovell said “I am thrilled with my run. I couldn’t believe it.”
The draw and track were both good for the pair.
“We ended up with a pretty good draw. He is a really small horse. So when it is deep he has a harder time getting out of it, so we drew up right at the top of the ground and I think it made the difference.”
The warmer temperatures on Saturday were no problem for the duo. Lovell said that because of being from close to Medicine Hat, she is used to the heat.
“We’re from Medicine Hat but we are used to the heat. So we were good.”
Lovell said she would like to express her gratitude to the organizers for putting on the event.
For nine-year-old Josie Young, this is the largest prize she has ever won in barrel racing — although she has won at other events.
Young aboard SR Jess So Classy put in a run of 18.901 seconds to capture the 3D Division, while Chantel Kesslering finished second aboard DF Hint Of Frost with a time of 18.941 seconds (won $3,870);Jenna Chamberlain aboard Elite Classic Crime finished third with a time of 18.961 seconds (won $2,580).
Asked if she was surprised by her win, Young said she was “surprised.”
“It feels good,” she said about winning over $5,000 as a nine-year-old Grade 4 elementary school student in Filmore, Sask.
“I have no idea,” she said about when asked what she would be doing with her winnings.
This is not the first win for Young.
“I’ve won lots of other barrel races.”
Young said she has been barrel racing since she was one or two years old.
Asked if her parents helped her out to barrel race when she started out in the sport, she responded “kind of.”
Many children, when they first start barrel racing, are led through the course with their parents holding the halter as the child rides the horse.
The shortened two-day event was due to the number of other events now able to take place as the COVID - 19 restrictions are now no longer in effect.
“We shortened the event to two days just due to the other events going on this weekend. It made for a super exciting two days where we didn’t get extra exhausted by the end of the fourth day. We are super happy with the decision this year,” Gadd said.
With other events being held elsewhere, many competitors left immediately after the slot races or receiving their prizes because they were off to other events.
“They are pulling out of here right away as they are off to other rodeos tomorrow,” she said, adding “there were a few people who said they were here passing through to other rodeos so they said what a great opportunity to stop in and have the chance to win $7,000 (dollars).”
The original MJ Indepedent story can be found here.