Both 2019 Purina Horses of the Year—head horse Jewels Smoke Screen and heel horse DT Sugar Chex Whiz—will be in the arena at the same time, on the same team, in Round 7 of the 2019 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
While Colorado's Tate Kirchenschlager has been on Smoke for the duration of the Finals, Arkansas heeler Tyler Worley will tap Billie Jack Saebens and Dixon Flowers Quarter Horses to ride the fancy black mare Sugar starting in Round 7.
"If Tate and I don’t win a ton, that’s on me and Tate because that will mean everybody in the PRCA is wrong," Worley laughed. "We're going to be on the two horses that everyone voted for, so we have absolutely no excuses now."
Worley is a good friend of two-time NFR heeler Saebens, and the two talked before the Finals about which horse Worley should ride.
"He offered her to me as soon as he figured out he wasn't making it," Worley said. "People had told me the steers were too strong and hard to get to, and that if your horse is too strong in the practice pen, he'll be just right in Vegas. So my horse has been a touch strong in the practice pen for a month and I thought he'd be just right. Now he’s way too strong out here. I tried to take in everything everybody told me, and it was a little bit overkill."
Saebens had Sugar here in Las Vegas because he roped at—and won—the inaugural Ariat World Series of Team Roping Finale's Gold Buckle Beer Open, worth $56,600 with Bubba Buckaloo.
"She felt great out here," Saebens said. "She worked so good at the South Point and she's healthy."
Kirchenschlager and Worley were 59.6 on five heading into Round 6, winning $17,333.33 each on the week (including the $10,000 they get from the PRCA automatically). But Worley missed in Round 6 and decided to make the call to Saebens, who had Sugar out here for the WSTR Finale.
"I got too close for the sixth time in a row last night," Worley said "I text Billie Jack and said, 'Hey let’s do it tomorrow.' He was excited, and I’m really excited too. I rode her at the World Series Finale in 2017 and flew out here and borrowed a rig and took her out here to the South Point, won good on her, and had her back by grand entry."
Worley won $11,000 on her that year in the #15 Finale, and Saebens rode her as a grand entry horse in 2017. Saebens wife, barrel racer Ivy Conrado-Saebens, rode her as a grand entry horse in 2018, as well, so she's gotten a taste of the bright lights.
"Tate hasn’t been moving them very much, and if there’s something she’s better at, it’s the slower-type steers," Saebens said. "She reads them really good. I told him he can put his hand down and go old school—rope like you did when you were a kid. He just needs to kamikaze it and rope."
Sugar was the 2015 AQHA Junior Tie-Down Roping World Champion, Reserve Champion Superhorse and winner of 498.5 AQHA performance points including 53 performance wins. J.D. Yates showed her, and she's by Shiners Lena Chex, who also sired two-time American Rope Horse Futurity Heading Champion DT Air Jordan, and out of King Snazzy Sugar, by NFR barrel stallion Fols Classy Snazzy, who was jockeyed by WPRA World Champion Marlene McRae.
Yates showed Sugar at the AQHA World Show as recently as 2018, where he won fifth in the Senior Heeling on her. Sugar, with Dustin Rogers on board, also made the finals in the Senior Pole Bending. TRJ