When the dust settled on Championship Saturday at the Pendleton Round-Up, it was Kacey Gartner who took the victory lap in the Barrel Racing on the iconic Green Mile. Having the opportunity to run on the grass and take home the prestigious title is a dream for many, and this year Gartner’s dream came true.
The Walla Walla, Washington cowgirl set the pace for the week with a quick 28.57-second run to win the first round and lead the pack by 0.3 seconds going into the championship round. Gartner explained how exhilarating the first round was and how she anticipated her horse, Mercedes would continue to improve their times if she could only keep all three barrels up. And keep them up she did. Gartner kept it clean and consistent with a 28.54-second run. Second only to Leia Pluemer’s 28.38-second run, which was the fastest run all week.
Running the clover-leaf pattern on the Green Mile is unique to the Pendleton Round-Up and presents many unique challenges and opportunities. Barrel racers and horses alike must prepare to run on the grass and on a significantly larger pattern. Having the opportunity to race at this historic rodeo is something athletes look forward to all year.
Gartner explained, “I wait 365 days a year to return to Pendleton. There is truly nothing like Pendleton and its unique history.” Gartner has previously won the Reserve Championship twice and this year was finally hers to take the iconic victory lap. This exhilarating win has boosted Garner to second in the Columbia River Circut standings, where she looks to continue this momentum at the circuit finals come October.