Stealin’ the Money: Wenda Johnson and Steal Money Top Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Go-Round No. 4

Two-time NFR qualifier Wenda Johnson guides Steal Money to the first Wrangler NFR go-round win of her barrel racing career.

Photograph by Kenneth Springer, courtesy WPRA

Two-time NFR qualifier Wenda Johnson guides Steal Money to the first Wrangler NFR go-round win of her barrel racing career.

Two-time qualifier Wenda Johnson, of Pawhuska, Okla., expertly guided 5-year-old Steal Money (“Moe”), owned by Tres Mesa Horses of Fort Worth, Texas, to the go-round No. 4 victory at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Teton Ridge at Thomas & Mack Center arena in Las Vegas, Nev., on Sun., Dec. 5.

Johnson’s time of 13.46 seconds earned her $26,996.97 and set a new round 4 arena record with what is the fastest time run at the NFR thus far. Johnson had nothing but praise for the 5-year-old lefty sired by First Moonflash and out of the Stoli daughter Ima Chica Stoli.

“When everything is kind of just right for Moe, that’s the kind of run he makes,” said Johnson. “He’s been doing that for me for the past few months, just making these smooth, beautiful runs. I overrode a little bit the night before, so I was able to soften back up. I had to compensate in a couple of spots, but that’s horse racing and we got around them and made a solid, great run.”

Interestingly, of the pair of geldings Johnson runs, Mac (MacGyver Moonflash) runs to the left and Moe runs to the right, which gives her much to consider when choosing which of them gets the call. Johnson added that with Mac being 8 and having had great success for her for a longer period of time, she was inclined to run him in the earlier rounds.

“Moe did run a little bit in the futurity world, Kassie Mowry was able to take him, and he would win goes; he’s a great horse. We kind of just put him on the trailer in June and took him for a little summer run,” she said. “I only ran him at about six or seven rodeos, but he did really well and got a couple wins and definitely placed. As for choosing, I went with Mac in the first go because I didn’t know how some of the unknowns would affect Moe because he’s never been in a setting like this and it’s my responsibility as a rider to build his confidence.”

Accompanying Johnson in the alley is her friend Stephanie Sell, who she says has helped her since she began running Mac and Moe.

“She’s an amazing coach and she’s been a part of this team since the beginning when I first rode Flash (Dreams First Flash), and she’s watched every run I’ve ever made. She has a fantastic eye. She has a way of helping me be my best rider and she has a way with a horse. In that alley, we’ve got both of them so quiet, so happy and ready to go make a run.”

Johnson added that she is happy that Moe and Mac’s owners are here in Vegas and proud to see the horses representing Tres Mesas so well.

Follow Barrel Racing Magazine to stay up to speed on our coverage of all the great stories coming out of the 2021 Wrangler NFR. Catch our lengthier interview with Johnson on “The Money Barrel.”

National Finals Rodeo – Go Round 4 Results 

  1. Wenda Johnson, MacGyver Moonflash, 13.46, $26,996.97
  2. Amanda Welsh, Frenchman Fire Fly, 13.61, $21,336.32
  3. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Ima Famous Babe, 13.62, $16,111.10
  4. Emily Miller-Beisel, Namgis D33, 13.63, $11,321.31
  5. Dona Kay Rule, High Valor, 13.69, $6,966.96
  6. Hailey Kinsel, DM Sissy Hayday, 13.70, $4,354.35
Amanda Welsh and Frenchman Fire Fly laid down a 13.61 for second.
Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi and Ima Famous Babe posted a 13.62 for third in the round.
Emily Miller Beisel was back on Chongo (Namgis D33) posting a 13.63 for fourth.
High Valor and Dona Kay Rule stopped the clock in 13.69 seconds for fifth.
Rounding out the placings was world standings leader Hailey Kinsel and DM Sissy Hayday with a 13.70.