The rodeo world is a small one, and some winners at The American have a lot in common.
By Holly Clanahan | February 26, 2016
Here’s a Monday-morning puzzler: What do PGA golfer Davis Love III, an AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder from South Dakota and a millionaire bronc rider have in common?
Hint: All have ties to RFD-TV’s The American, the world’s richest one-day rodeo held February 28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
So, first: the bronc rider. Wade Sundell of Coleman, Oklahoma, won the saddle bronc competition at the 2014 and 2015 editions of The American, making him eligible for the “triple crown” bonus, a cool million that would be split amongst anyone who won three titles in a row. Team roper Kaleb Driggers and barrel racer Lisa Lockhart were also eligible. In the end, only Wade captured a third win, leaving him with the full $1 million prize, in addition to $100,000 for his event win.
Now, AQHA Media wouldn’t normally interview roughstock riders. After all, we’re interested in registered Quarter Horses who, thankfully, aren’t usually that rank. But Wade is a slightly different story. The 31-year-old Iowa native is an AQHA life member who breeds and trains barrel horses.
“It’s kind of odd for a bronc rider to have barrel horses,” Wade admits, “but it’s something that I’ve always enjoyed, being around Quarter Horses. It was something that intrigued me.”
Wade has two stallions, Streakin Pac Bar (owned in partnership with Jackson Montgomery and Jennilee Thompson) and Streakin Winkin Doc.
Both are by $2 million sire A Streak Of Fling and were bred by AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeders Brian and Lisa Fulton, who live on the South Dakota-Nebraska border. The ranch is in South Dakota but has a Valentine, Nebraska, address.
Lisa was at The American, cheering on Wade and other family friends, including barrel racer Sarah Rose McDonald, whose family has been coming to Fulton Performance Horse sales since 2003.
Sarah Rose rides Fame Fling N Bling, a 10-year-old bay roan mare owned by Larry Ammons and who is also by A Streak Of Fling.
“They are just on fire,” Lisa says of the pair, who won $100,000 as The American’s barrel racing champions.
But Sarah Rose, 23, says she’s been having some recent bad luck, and their last performance, at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo this past week, wasn’t up to par.
Coming in to the AT&T Stadium, though, the 2014 rookie of the year knew her luck was changing.
“The environment that’s here, all the people, the huge crowd, that’s ‘Bling’s’ atmosphere,” Sarah Rose says. “She loves it. She feeds off it. And I can tell when I’m warming up that she’s ready to go. This is definitely her setting. She wants people to see her, and she just goes in there and works hard.
“She turned it on at the right time. I’m super excited that she picked this day (to have some good runs); that worked out good.”
The American’s format is that all contestants – both the top-ranked competitors in their event and others who qualified at the semi-finals – make one run. Then the top four in each event come back for a shoot-out and a chance at $100,000. Second place pays $25,000.
As Sarah Rose made her way into the finals, RFD-TV commentator Dave Appleton was busy texting a mutual friend, pro golfer Davis Love III.
Sarah Rose explains the connection: “My boyfriend’s brother is married to Davis’ daughter. It’s a super-nice family. We live in the same town in south Georgia.”
When Dave told Davis that Sarah Rose had just earned $100,000, Davis replied, “Let her know she won $80,000 more than I did this weekend.” Davis shot a four-over-par in The Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
“It’s kind of cool when you have someone like Davis Love following your career,” Dave told Sarah Rose. “It’s neat to have an athlete in another sport follow somebody in the world of rodeo.”
Other winners at The American included steer wrestler Ty Erickson, riding the 2015 AQHA-Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Horse of the Year KR Montana Shake Em, and tie-down roper Hunter Herrin, who recently sold his 2014 Horse of the Year Dualin Demon to AQHA Professional Horseman C.R. Bradley and was riding “Hustler,” a horse he used to own and who now belongs to Cody Ohl’s mom, Agnes Ohl. Trevor Brazile, who competed in team roping and tie-down roping, was named the all-around champ at The American.
AQHA was a sponsor of The American. Look for more coverage in the May issue of America’s Horse, AQHA’s membership magazine.