Jennifer Kent entered the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo wondering how her prize barrel-racing horse would fare.
That was because her gelding, Burnie, underwent surgery several months ago to remove a bone spur in his right foot, and the Fort Worth rodeo was the gelding's first time to compete since the operation.
But after rounding the barrels in dramatic fashion during the Friday matinee show, Kent is tied for fifth in the title race and has all but clinched a berth in tonight's final round.
Kent, who lives in Grand Cane, La., praised Burnie for performing so well.
"To see him come back this strong after having surgery shows that he has heart and it's a testimony of how good he is," she said.
Kent turned in a time of 16.36 seconds at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum and also is ranked second in the second round.
Taylor Jacob, who competed in the Friday evening performance, leads the second round with a 16.28, which is the fastest time of the entire rodeo.
After turning in the 16.36, Kent is tied for fifth in the average with a two-run time of 33.13, which should be fast enough to earn a finals berth.
The finals will feature the top 12 in each event based on their aggregate times and scores from the prelims.
Iowa cowgirl Natalie Foutch will enter tonight's finale ranked No. 1 in the barrel-racing title standings with a 32.84.
Jayne Melby, who competed in the Friday evening show, is ranked second in the title race with a 32.89.
Melby is on a big roll. The Oklahoman won the National Western Stock Show Rodeo in Denver two weeks ago.
A look at other title races:
Bareback riding: Two-time world champion Kaycee Feild is ranked No. 1 with a three-ride score of 245, five points ahead of No. 2 ranked Ryan Gray, a seven-time qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Tie-down roping: Randall Carlisle, a former resident of Lipan who lives in Castor, La., is ranked No. 1 with a two-run time of 17.5 seconds. He had high hopes of winning and qualifying for his first National Finals Rodeo. Former NFR qualifier Clint Robinson is ranked second with a 17.7.
Team roping: Defending Stock Show Rodeo heeling champion Kory Koontz, a 19-time NFR qualifier, and his partner, Brock Hanson, are ranked No. 1 with a two-run time of 9.6, 1.1 seconds ahead of No. 2 ranked Nick Rawlings and Cole Jackson.
Saddle bronc riding: Two-time world champion Cody Wright has the lead with a two-ride score of 156, three points ahead of No. 2 ranked Ben Londo and Dean Wadsworth.
Steer wrestling: Stan Branco leads with a two-run time of 8.0 seconds and Les Shepperson is No. 2 with an 8.1. Defending world champion Luke Branquinho is third with an 8.5.
Bull riding: Friday Wright II is ranked No. 1 with a two-ride score of 164, five points ahead of Tag Elliott and Steve Woolsey, who are tied for second.