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Barrel racer, 18, dashes to title at stock show’s Cowboys of Color Rodeo

Ben Goodman (r) scores a 6.7 during Steer Wrestling as the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo helds its annual Cowboys of Color Rodeo on MLK Day.
Ben Goodman (r) scores a 6.7 during Steer Wrestling as the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo helds its annual Cowboys of Color Rodeo on MLK Day. pmoseley@star-telegram.com

In the 1980s, Sylvester Mayfield commanded respect when he earned two trips to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

In fact, the African-American star clinched the tie-down roping title in 1987 at the Fort Worth Stock Show’s renowned indoor pro rodeo, which was a big step toward earning his second National Finals berth.

Three decades later, Mayfield’s daughter, Shelby, has aspirations of becoming a barrel racing competitor to be reckoned with and competing at the NFR like her father.

Shelby Mayfield, 18, showed promise by clinching the barrel racing title in dramatic fashion at the Cowboys of Color Rodeo during the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday. She turned in a time of 16.90 seconds and earned $2,000 for her victory. She was the only competitor who ran the cloverleaf pattern under 17 seconds before a capacity crowd at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.

Shelby rode her 11-year-old mare that she calls Jewel. Several years ago, Sylvester purchased Jewel at a horse sale in El Paso for a bargain price of $1,600, he said.

At the time, Jewel was unbroken, but she was from great bloodlines for barrel racing. Jewel is a granddaughter of Dash Ta Fame, a famous barrel racing quarter horse stallion.

The annual MLK Day rodeo at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo is in its ninth year.

Sylvester said he was able to purchase Jewel for a lower price because the mare was difficult to deal with.

“Nobody wanted her because she was wild,” he said. “I think she had been through a few guys who tried to ride her.”

Sylvester broke Jewel to ride. Then, Shelby trained the young horse for barrel racing competition.

“I had just had a horse die in a freak accident and I was kind of down on it,” Shelby said. “I didn’t want to run barrels anymore. But my dad came home with this horse and I said, ‘Well, I might as well give it a try.’ 

Shelby said Jewel runs with determination.

“Really, she doesn’t make the most perfect runs,” she said. “But she really runs hard. She always makes up for her mistakes. She turns hard. She keeps me on my toes. I have to make sure to keep my timing right and make sure she’s in the right place at the right time.”

Shelby said Jewel is fast.

“She runs really hard in between the barrels,” she said. “It makes up for everything.”

Shelby Mayfield, from Clovis, N.M., is a freshman at Eastern New Mexico in Portales. She is a member of the school’s rodeo team and is attempting to earn her membership card in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association and has a goal of competing in the Fort Worth Stock Show’s pro rodeo next year.

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Sylvester, 63, who qualified for the National Finals in 1985 and 1987 in tie-down roping, currently has a business of buying and selling cattle.

Asked specifically why his daughter excels on the rodeo circuit, Sylvester said with a laugh: “She likes money.”

In the tie-down roping title race at the Cowboys of Color Rodeo, Keondrick Akins of Fort Worth tied for first place after turning in a time of 11.1 seconds. Akins shared the title with DeWeldon Watson of Huntsville. In steer wrestling, Chase Crane of Tulsa clinched the title with a 4.8.

In bareback riding, Damon Hopkins clinched the title with a score of 68. He was the only cowboy who made a qualified ride. But in bull riding, the bovines shut out the cowboys. The final score: Bulls 8, Cowboys 0.

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