Murrieta’s Rachael Ross and her mare Billie won the Nov.10 benefit barrel race for Christina Roberts held at Mountain Valley Ranch in Ramona.
Ross and Billie had a time of 16.005 seconds in the divisional format barrel race which earned Women’s Professional Rodeo Association sanctioning. Ross won $586 for winning the 1-D. Riders could also use their ride for side pot competitions with an additional entry fee, and the 43-year-old Ross won an additional $84 for first place in the masters (age 18-49) side pot.
“It’s exciting,” Ross said. “She’s coming back better and better.”
Ross and Billie placed 18th in the 2009 Women’s Professional Rodeo Association world standings, but in 2010 Billie developed a life-threatening abscess.
“It’s just been slow coming back,” Ross said. “Every time I get going something happens.”
An attempt to implant one of Billie’s embryos into another mare was unsuccessful in February, but on March 16 an embryo taken from Billie resulted in pregnancy for the other horse, who is expected to deliver the foal in February.
“My goal this year was just to make circuit finals, which I did,” Ross said.
The California Circuit finals were held Oct. 19-21 in Lancaster. Ross hit a barrel the first day, placed fourth for the second go-round, and placed third on her third run.
The Fourth of July weekend is known as Cowboy Christmas in the rodeo world since numerous rodeos give competitors multiple chances for payouts. Ross opted not to pursue a National Finals Rodeo qualification as one of the top 15 in the world standings but instead spent June 29 through July 1 locally at the Wine Country Barrel Racers’ Firecracker Barrel Race. Temecula’s Melanie Southard won the first two go-rounds with Ross placing fifth and fourth before Ross won both the third day and the average (aggregate).
“She did good,” Ross said. “She’s running strong.”
Billie turned 18 in May.
“Any time you have a horse at that age running at that caliber, it’s a blessing,” Ross said.
Christina Roberts, who is 29, has Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She has undergone chemotherapy and is currently taking radiation therapy. Roberts has medical insurance but is independently employed and did not qualify for disability or MediCal, so all co-pays are out of her own pocket along with treatment beyond what is covered by her insurance.
A committee organized the benefit barrel race with Roberts’ stepmother, Selena Roberts, and Jeannie Malone taking the lead.
“It was a huge success,” Selena Roberts said. “It was a fantastic showing of support even in spite of the weather.”
Rain throughout the area that morning limited attendance, but approximately 75 riders competed and more than $17,000 was raised for Christina Roberts.
“It was a good cause that we went for and Selena did a good job,” Ross said. “They raised a lot of money for the cause, so that’s good.”
The rain in days leading up to the benefit race affected the arena.
“The ground was kind of deep and I kind of wondered how she was going to do,” Ross said.
Billie went past the second barrel, although Ross noted that the other horses also took longer paths around that barrel.
“Other than that she was good,” Ross said.
“It was a good win considering her age,” Ross said. “She’s just a pretty special little horse.”
Loeghan Young of Littlerock had a time of 16.300 seconds to finish second in the 1-D. Linda Stenerson of Bonsall had a time of 16.557 seconds to win 2-D while Temecula’s Heather Bergman had a run of 16.659 seconds to place third in the 2-D and win $264 while Temecula’s Denise Munson placed fourth in the 2-D at 16.662 seconds to win $132. Murrieta’s Chris Azevedo took fourth in the 4-D with a time of 18.261 seconds to win $97.