LAS VEGAS – Carlee Pierce and Dillion are turning up the heat.
The barrel racer from Stephenville, Texas, and her 12-year-old gelding may have started slow, but they’ve made up ground quickly. On Wednesday night at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Pierce and Dillion rounded the cloverleaf pattern in 13.81 seconds to finish second in the seventh go-round – Pierce’s second runner-up check worth $14,429.
Combined with the $18,257 she earned Tuesday, Pierce has had a pretty strong week in Las Vegas, earning more than $47,000. Oh, and there are three rounds remaining in this year’s championship.
“I’m super proud of Dillion,” she said. “He’s been excited and ready to go.”
Because the order of competitors rotates to give the racers equal footing on the shifting ground, Pierce moved to 15th, meaning she was the last cowgirl to run. Oftentimes, that’s a disadvantage for the world-class racehorses that circle barrels in tight turns while keeping up a fast pace. But it seemed to work just fine for Pierce, now in her second straight NFR.
“To finish second on the bottom of the ground is a testament to how good Dillion works,” she said. “He’s amazing. He’s a gift from God.”
Now Pierce and the buckskin will chase every round win and every dollar possible over the remaining three days of the championship. Her 2012 NFR earnings are just $3,000 shy of the money she earned one December ago, so the Alberta-born, Oklahoma-raised cowgirl is on pace to make a significant living in just 10 days in the Nevada desert.
Even though she’s placed in just three rounds, Pierce is second on the NFR earnings list behind world standings leader Mary Walker, who has won four rounds and placed in two others; Walker has earned more than $95,000. Pierce has also moved from fourth to third in the world standings, having pushed her 2012 earnings to $171,636.
“I’m blessed to be here, and to have success is amazing,” Pierce said.