The classic headline, “Local Boy Makes Good,” would be fitting for this story. Pete Oen is originally from Wapakoneta, Ohio, but has gone on to become one of the most revered trainers and competitors in the barrel racing and futurity world. This year, he came home to Ohio and put on a show at the All American Quarter Hors Congress, taking home the Sweepstakes Finals win and being crowned the Reserve Sweepstakes Champion, aboard the stand-out gelding All Bull No Fame. So, what better place for Pete to talk about this Congress than the only place that covers barrel racing in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia: The Barrel Racing Blog.
We’re thrilled to have Pete here for the first (but not the last) time!
Tell us about the horses you ran at the Congress (names, bloodlines, age, owners, running styles).
Both of the horses I competed on at the All American Quarter Horse Congress are by the great, late Dash Ta Fame. Famous Blue Eyes is out of a daughter of Disco Jerry (TB) and All Fame No Bull is out of a daughter of Bully Bullion. He is a full sibling to Famous Silk Panties, all-time money leading barrel racing horse in the history of the event. They are both 4-year-old futurity horses this year. Famous Blue Eyes is now owned by clients of mine from Quebec, Canada Charles and Catherine Jobin. They purchased her this past spring from me. I own All Fame No Bull myself. Famous Blue Eyes is more of a push style horse and All Fame No Bull is very much a free runner.
What classes did you place in at the Congress this year?
I ran Famous Blue Eyes and All Fame No Bull in the Junior Barrels and the Barrel Racing Sweepstakes. All Fame No Bull was Reserve Champion and Famous Blue Eyes placed 7th in the Junior Barrels. All Fame No Bull fell completely down in the first round of the Barrel Racing Sweepstakes, which was our first run of the week. I was concerned about the rest of our barrel racing competition, but it sure got better. He ended up placing 6th in the second round of the Barrel Sweepstakes, bringing him back to the finals in the 6th fastest position as well after both qualifying rounds. He won the final round posting a 14.890, the fastest run of the week of all classes! Unfortunately we had an exact tie for the average and the Champion of the Sweeps, first time in the history of the event. We didn’t want to run our horses again, considering they are only 4 year olds and that was their 4th run so far that week. We had no say in what was to be done. The AQHA rule is that there is to be a run off in the event of a tie for a championship. There really wasn’t any time to regroup or prepare for the run off. I was to run first. My horse gets a bit on the silly side after a run and it takes him a bit to calm down.
We saw you run in one of the most dramatic finishes in Congress Sweepstakes history. What was going through your head going down the alleyway to make your run in the run off?
As I mentioned there was not much time for this to take place. As I got back on him and headed to the alley I told myself to “make a strong, clean run” and “See what happens?” Unfortunately I got a little bit past the first barrel and tried to make up some time, cutting it a lil close at the second barrel, knocking it down. So, unfortunately the outcome was that we were crowned the Reserve Champs. Still completely something to be proud of, because we ran two clocks that proved to be the Champions.
What is it about your horses’ styles that made them so good for the Congress’ tough arena?
I thought All Fame No Bull had a bit of an advantage over Famous Blue Eyes going into the competition before it even started. He can handle firmer ground than her, and he doesn’t mind running up into a wall, as she tends to like it a bit deeper and the barrels off the walls.
What was your strategy going into the Congress this year?
They only strategy I had going into the congress was to try and prepare my horses to be at their peak performance, and to make sure they were healthy and strong. The Congress is not always the easiest thing to prepare for… The ground can change from day to day or from 50 riders to the next 50 riders.
What was your goal for the 2011 Congress, and did you reach it?
I didn’t really have a goal for the Congress. We always want to win so I guess that was my goal. I really wanted to place in the top proving my horses and not letting them down. And this is a big family- and back-home, old-friends kind of crowd I no longer get to see very much. So I wanted them to see the talent that both of my horses have and see how much I have grown as a trainer and competitor.
What is your goal for All Fame No Bull’s career?
I don’t have any real “goals” for All Fame No Bull. I would love for him to win something big before the year ends. He as been reserve champion on 3 occasions at big competitions. He is a great horse and I think he needs a Championship to his name! Most important of all is for him to continue to be a great barrel horse for many years to come… Bo Hill, good friend of mine has set a goal for me… to win $100,000 this season. Famous Blue Eyes has won $37,000 and All Fame No Bull has won $30,000 so far. I will have to let you know if my horses and I reach it as a team.
Tell us what it’s like going off on your own training venture. What have been the biggest challenges, and what’s been the biggest reward?
I have been a bit on edge and unsure going out on my own this past year. It sure has been an experience. My biggest challenge I thought was getting people to send me horses to train. Fortunately that has not been a problem. Guess someone is looking out for me… Best thing is that I have the two very best horses of my barrel racing career and have won the most money in a single season of my career this year!!! A special thanks goes out to my parents, sister Carey, Kyle Leleux and Bo Hill. I am proud to tell everyone that my horses came from Bo Hill and Jeff Switzer as they raised and started both of them.
What colts do you have coming for 2012 that you’re truly excited about?
I have a couple nice colts for the 2012 season. I have the full sibling to Famous Nadine, his name is Power Fame. He is entered in the $100,000 slot race at the BFA World Championships in December of this year.
What has been the biggest win of your career?
The biggest win of my career is difficult for me to determine. I would have to say it’s placing two horses in the top 10 in the same year at Old Fort Days Futurity. Famous Blue Eyes placed 5th and All Fame No Bull placed 9th. I was the only one who placed two horses in the top 10 this year. But a close second is between this Congress Sweepstakes win or Reserve Champion at the Jud Little BFA futurity. All which I consider where we ran with the “cream of the crop!”
Tell us about the greatest horse you’ve ever run.
The greatest horse I have ever ran is All Fame No Bull. He is truly a gifted athlete and has talent that with all the training in the world, you can’t teach other horses!!! And to top that off he is unbelievably fast!
How did you get into barrel racing, and how did you learn to train?
I started barrel racing when I was 6 years old and it has been an addiction I can not go without. My parents’ best friend was a horse trainer and we used to go ride at their house. Next thing you know we had horses and we were doing what we thought was the right thing. We learned things the hard and easy way over the years of barrel racing. I learned to train a lot by trial and error as a youngster. Then I worked with a couple of the professionals that were older and more advanced than me for several years. Ultimately ending up where I am today, on my own doing what I love most, training barrel horses!!!
What are your ultimate goals in barrel racing?
I have set some really high goals for myself. I may never reach them, but if you are going to set goals, set them high. They are to win an AQHA World Championship, BFA World Championship Futurity, NBHA World Championship, and other high profile events throughout the World. Possibly extending into foreign countries such as Italy, Brazil, and China.