Dollys StreakNBadger delivered a dream season in 2021, now Kyle Leleux looks ahead to 2022 with the upcoming Royal Crown Race in his sights.
Despite the relatively short drive from Kirbyville, Texas, to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Kyle Leleux nearly sat out the Oklahoma City Futurity, which took place from December 7-12, 2021. He decided to finish a strong year out and took Dollys StreakNBadger to compete in the Fiver Futurity, a class strictly for 5-year-old futurity horses. Affectionately known as “Bentley,” the 2016 stud by A Streak Of Fling and out of TR Dashing Badger (“Dolly”) by Mr Illuminator turned in a 15.350 to win the first round and pocket $3,365. A bobble in the second round kept the team out of the money, but their 15.934 still allowed them to capture the aggregate, and cash a check for $4,487. They earned a combined total of $9,345 total in the Fiver Futurity. Kyle sat down with Barrel Racing Magazine to discuss Bentley’s outstanding 2021 year, and what 2022 has in store for the promising stallion.
Barrel Racing Magazine: Rumor has it, you nearly sat OKC out. Talk me through your decision to run Bentley in the Fiver Futurity.
Kyle Leleux: I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to OKC or stay home and let my horse and I rest. It’s been a long year and lots of runs and miles. At the last minute, I thought “What’s two more runs to finish the year with a bang?” and went. Not all futurities have a class just for 5-year-old’s, so I was excited to see that.
BRM: Did you make any adjustments that seemed to contribute to your success in Oklahoma City?
Leleux: I knew that the arena wasn’t Bentleys ideal set up, so in exhibitions I made sure he stayed out in the middle of the arena longer than normal to the first barrel. The first barrel in that arena is far and straight. If Bentley has any fault at all, it’s that he won’t always nail the first turn, but exhibitions went great.
BRM: Walk us through the day that you won the first round with a 15.350.
Leleux: Thursday morning, we rested most of the day waiting for the Fiver Futurity to start. I was first out. He warmed up great, as usual. Maybe a little more relaxed and tired, but that never bothers me knowing how fast he is. When he left the alley, I knew he spotted the first barrel, and I was in great shape. He did his thing and got the win by three tenths.
BRM: In the second round, you ran a 15.934. What happened on that run?
Leleux: Bentley likes to be at home, and I had colts to ride, so I decided to head home and drive back up to OKC on Saturday. Our run Saturday wasn’t great. We were at the bottom of the ground, but it was good enough to win the average. I’m not sure how this horse knows, but he somehow knows just what it takes to win.
BRM: Do you change your game plan due to hauling a stud?
Leleux: Hauling a stud isn’t always easy, but if they were all like Bentley it would never even be talked about. He is an absolute gentleman when on the road and at barrel races. It’s like he knows that he is there for one thing and worrying about mares isn’t that thing. With that being said, I won’t stall a mare on the side of him, nor will I load one beside him in the trailer.
BRM: What is Bentley’s style like? Do you have to adjust your riding style any to win on him?
Leleux: I feel like Bentley and I have an understanding about almost everything in life. He fits my style perfectly. I’ve probably had to learn to go one handed sooner on him. He is so honest that I will miss my turning spot if I stay two-handed too long in between the barrels on him. Other than that, he is super easy to ride.
BRM: How did you keep Bentley consistent throughout his futurity year?
Leleux: I rarely go around the barrels on him at home. He has stayed extremely solid and consistent all year! I feel like you can do more off pattern than you can on pattern. He is extremely fast, so I’ve always just tried to keep him backed off. He gets ridden six to seven days a week. Nothing hard just enough to get him out of his stall for a little exercise. I make sure he stays soft and balanced throughout the week. We work on rolling off the fence and backing circles to keep him sharp and keep him thinking.
BRM: Where does Bentley go from here? What does his 2022 schedule look like?
Leleux: Now that the futurity year has come to an end I’ve decided that he needs a month or two break. I do plan on getting him legged back up before the Royal Crown in Buckeye, Arizona to start our derby year. We will probably take the year easy for the most part, but we plan on hitting the bigger derbies and returning home for collection days.
BRM: What does this win mean to you?
Leleux: For some reason I was more pumped about winning this futurity than probably any other. It was so cool to me that we finished the year with another win. Driving home, I just kept thinking about the past year. I found myself getting a little emotional, knowing that I may never have another year like this. I think Bentley knows that he’s special, but I’m not sure that he understands how special he is and what he means to me. That horse owes me absolutely nothing, and he has literally given me his all every time I’ve asked him for it.
BRM: Bentley was recently purchased by Nickel Bar Ranch. Can you comment on the ownership change and the effects it could have on his performance career?
Leleux: It was a hard decision for me to make but like most trainers, I train, and I have to sell them to make a living. I had quite a few offers on him, but Nickel Bar Ranch was the only party that would let me keep him and ride him. His running career shouldn’t change at all. As long as he is sound and wanting to win, he will be competing. Nickel Bar Ranch does an amazing job at advertising their studs and they put them in almost all the incentives that they can. Being a horse trainer, it’s not always easy to be able to afford all of the stallion incentives.