Nate Shilabar has had foot problems this year. On Monday, Peyton Warner's horse rode just fine.
The Alvord, Texas, native posted a time of 14.460 to defeat Sheri Jones by eight-hundredths of a second and win the Sweepstakes competition on the first day of the 2000 National Barrel Horse Association World Championships at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.
"He really hasn't been firing since June," Warner said. "When I ran him Saturday, he fired hard. But today he ran so hard and turned so quick. He hadn't felt like that since May."
Warner collected $3,144 for her run, while Pam Short, of Faulkner, Miss., won the second division with a time of 14.966 for $2,707. Ryan Melby, of Baccus, Minn., won the third division (15.466, $1,831) and Roy Thompson, of Salley, S.C., won the fourth division (16.473, $1,393).
Warner's run beat last year's time of 14.864 set by Dale Youree. Sixteen riders Monday topped Youree's winning time.
Add Waddell was one of those riders, posting a time of 14.682 on Fleet Feet Flying.
"I never felt him really get hard with the speed he's got," Waddell said. "He floated a little bit on me on the third barrel. I was pleased that he cut the clock off like he did. He didn't have that great a run, but I was pleased he cut the clock off."
The main reason the times are faster this year is because there's no ice underneath the dirt like there was last year, and the riders have less dirt to ride on.
"The ground's not up to his belly (this year)," Warner said. "He's a small horse, so he doesn't have far to go."
"It's a little bit tighter this year than it was last year," Waddell said. "So it's going to help the times be a little bit faster."
There were 688 riders in this year's Sweepstakes, up from 605 riders in 1999. The purse for this year's event is $56,720 with payouts for 15 riders in four divisions.
"What it tells me is that people are coming ahead of time," Sherry Fulmer, national show director for the NBHA, said. "It shows that people are ready to get here."
Typically, the Sweepstakes gives riders an opportunity for a practice run. However, Fulmer said the event has become more than that.
"This has become an event in itself," she said. "It's not just a practice run anymore."
The 348 senior riders begin their first run today at 8 a.m. At 3:30 p.m., the 1,011 open riders will begin their first run which will last until 9 p.m. and will be followed by a Halloween costume contest for riders and horses inside the civic center.
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222.
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