"I'm wore out," commented Bryant Pace, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, after riding Gunner to win the $100,000 Cosequin/USET Reining Championship on Sunday, June 24, at the 2001 Festival of Champions. Gunner's first go round score of 226.5 was combined with his second score of 222 to give them 448.5 and $22,700. Their closest rival was Cattitude ridden by Todd Sommers to 439.5.
Pace had the highest score in both rounds and based his ride on the conditions. He rode cautiously in the final round because torrential downpours the day before had left the arena surface inconsistent. "There were spots that were sticky and spots that were slick," he explained.
Going into that final round Pace was worried something horrible might happen, as was the case with Darren Stancik aboard Chocolate Choc Olena. While Stanick was backing the horse at the beginning of his ride, Choc Olena stepped on his tail and nearly fell dislodging and eliminating his rider in the process.
As Smith left the arena, Pace commented to him, "I feel just as bad as you do." That was the kind of mistake Smith was worried he might make, especially since he knew he was in a very good position for the victory. "I never appear nervous but I was really nervous that something might happen, especially after dreaming that we slipped and fell. The mental level of this is a lot higher and the fact that I am running against the absolute best in the world."