Danyelle Campbell celebrates an emotional first-time BFA World Futurity Championship with "Creed"
Return Of The Mac (“Creed”), ridden by Danyelle Campbell for FC Ranch, capped off his triumphant return from a condylar fracture with a victorious performance at the 36th Annual Barrel Futurities of America World Championship Futurity, held Nov. 12-20 at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Okla.
“It was finally our day,” said Felicia Taylor of Alex, Oklahoma’s FC Ranch, which consists of her, her husband Chris, and parents Freddie and Cathy Otis. “Creed deserved it.”
When Creed placed eighth in the first round with a 15.605, Campbell knew she left some time in the arena. They were out early and fourth on the ground, and Creed had a little bobble at the second.
“He did jump way out for a huge pocket at the second,” Campbell said. “We just kind of took the long way around. I couldn’t allow him to come back in because we were going to hit. I just had to keep him out the whole time.”
Taylor told Campbell that she thought they could run a 15.4, but Campbell thought otherwise.
“He can run .2 in here,” she said.
Knowing they already had the short go made, Campbell knew she had nothing to lose on her second run. She was also trying to capitalize on the Fortunes Round, which paid $25,000 to the fastest eligible horse in the qualifying rounds.
“I was going to send him as hard as I could, basically try to win the round and Fortunes Round,” she said. “He got by the first more than he ever has. He’s a really turny horse. His second and third were flawless. They were so fast and snappy. He ran really well.”
Their round-winning 15.355 was the fastest qualifying time of the Futurity.
Taylor was just ecstatic that Creed finally got to prove he had what it takes to win first.
“He’s won a lot of seconds and thirds,” she said, “but we’ve known he was a first-place kind of horse. I think when he won the second round, that was kind of my moment—he did it!”
Throwing Caution to the Wind
Taylor knew that Campbell had Creed in position to win the BFA World Championship.
“We were going into the finals in the position everyone dreams of being in but very few can finish it and come out first,” said Taylor, who qualified for the NFR as a teenager in 1994. “It’s a very hard position. Danyelle and I didn’t talk about the game plan for the finals. It didn’t need to be talked about. I knew how much confidence she had in him, and I knew she wanted to run a .2 on him for herself. I knew she was going to try to win first.”
Having already run her home-raised Reelected in the short round, Campbell knew she couldn’t be cautious.
“It wasn’t the kind (of ground) that you could safety up on,” she said. “You couldn’t get out of the tracks. They would flounder and get in trouble, but it was also wet and sticky. It was just a little tricky. I tried not to overthink how to ride him and just said the same thing to myself, ‘Just go in to win first.’”
Campbell said Creed got in a little ground trouble at the second.
“You can see in my video I’m just lifting him the whole way around,” she explained. “At the halfway point, I was like ‘Oh my gosh! How am I going to get him around?’ Knock on wood, he’s always been very easy to manipulate in the turn, and when I asked him to step up and out, get himself in a safer position, he did. It slowed him up a little bit, but he went where I asked. At that point, I’m thinking, ‘I don’t care if I have to do a handstand; I’m keeping the third barrel up!’ We are making a clean run! He did everything I asked.”
Creed got Campbell her .2, a 15.299, which made it nearly impossible for the remaining two runners to catch her.
“I’m not a big celebrator or fist pumper, but when I crossed the line and saw he ran the 15.2 that I told Felicia he could do, I was so excited!” said Campbell, a three-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier. “It’s been a dream of mine to win the BFA since I started futurities when I was 16. As soon as he ran that .2 I knew the two horses would have to run 14’s to beat me. It was a very emotional moment.”
The BFA Futurity Championship paid $44,929. They also won the Fortunes Round with their 15.355 for an additional $27,500—of which $2,500 went to Bill and Deb Myers, the owner of Creed’s late sire A Smooth Guy. Their total earnings for the BFA were $74,929.
A Fighter’s Heart
In just seven runs since he returned from surgery, Creed has won more than $154,000.
“What he’s done in the last seven runs is the kind of stuff that stories get written about,” said Taylor, who raised Creed out of her Dash Ta Fame mare Mackilts. “We encountered some really dark days and that made it mean so much more for us.”
Their darkest day was at the Old Fort Days Futurity in Fort Smith, Ark., last May, when Creed came out of his trial run on three legs. He was diagnosed with a condylar fracture, a break of the cannon bone just above the fetlock.
“The injury actually happened in February, but we were just unaware of the extent,” said Campbell. “It was just very innocently misdiagnosed. We had x-rayed it, but it didn’t show up. I guess the whole silver lining is that had it not broken, we would have been fighting it for quite a while not knowing exactly what was wrong.”
Creed had surgery on May 25 to repair the fracture with two screws.
Taylor was just hoping that Creed would be okay, that he would live. Campbell had asked Dr. Chad Marsh, Creed’s surgeon at ESMS in Weatherford, Texas, if he would ever run again.
“I remember asking Dr. Marsh, ‘This may be a stupid question at this time, but is he ever going to be a performance horse again?’ He said, ‘Oh yeah! As long as I go in there and everything looks good, he should be fine. This happens to Thoroughbreds all the time. They come back and win.’ It was hard to imagine that but from the get-go we had a very good prognosis,” said Campbell.
“I think emotionally we weren’t sure how Creed would come back, especially mentally. He came back so strong so fast. It didn’t take any time. Boom! Right off the bat, he came back stronger than ever.”
Taylor said that Creed has the heart of the fighter that her sons named him after.
“In the end,” she said, “I don’t think it would have been possible if he didn’t have a huge heart and want to run barrels.”
Check back for more stories from BFA week as we continue to highlight the champions.