Jody Sheffield, of Delta, Colorado, won the slot race at last year’s Barrel for Bucks horse racing event in Moab. [Photo courtesy of Barrel for Bucks]

If you know you have a fast horse it might be worth gambling the $250 entry fee for a chance to win big money at the Barrel for Bucks slot horse race May 26 at the Old Spanish Trail Arena. It proved worth it for Delta, Colorado, resident Jody Sheffield last year when she won the slot race — she took home $1,400.

“It was exciting,” Sheffield said. “It was my first big win on that horse. It was the first ‘buckle’ I ever won on him.”

The three-day horse racing event is free for spectators, and includes open barrel racing competitions each day, May 26-28. The open racing begins at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and 12 p.m. on Monday. After the open race is complete there will be the “novice” class race for new horses.

The fastest horses, however, will race Saturday night in the slot race beginning at 7 p.m.

“It’s going to be loud and exciting,” with music playing in the background, Barrel for Bucks organizer Sally Soltvedt, of Hotchkiss, Colorado, said. “It’s a fun gathering for people who like to run horses and barrel race. The horses are well-loved and cared for.”

For some people, racing horses is a hobby, while other participants race the horses that they have trained to show and sell to others interested in competing, Soltvedt said.

Soltvedt and her friend Lana Sulkey, of Cedaredge, Colorado, founded Barrel for Bucks in Moab in 2010.

There was barrel racing in Grand County prior to 2010, but the sport gained little attention for a number of years until the two women said they thought it would be fun to resurrect the event in Moab.

Now two race events are held each year, one in May, and another in October.

“We love to have people stop and watch, and it’s free,” Sulkey said. “The most exciting one is the slot race on Saturday night. It’s more like an old-fashioned race.”

That means the race is not divisional; it’s just the top racers who win.

Divisional races are established to allow for a greater number of people to have opportunities to win money by breaking up races into various classes, Sheffield said. But after years of divisional races, organizers found that people still enjoy watching the fastest horse winning in events like the slot race.

Moab’s slot race will be limited to 27 participants.

“You don’t have to compete at all,” Sheffield noted. “You can buy a slot and have someone else run it and split the winnings.”

Attending barrel racing events is for people who enjoy rodeo but don’t necessarily want to travel a lot to follow it, Soltvedt said. The Moab barrel racing events are for only three days, she said. Participants generally come from around Colorado and Utah, and sometimes New Mexico.

Sheffield won’t be competing in this year’s Barrel for Bucks event — she and her husband perform team roping events throughout Colorado’s Western Slope and have an event scheduled for that same day.

“I would definitely go again, if I were free,” she said.

When: Saturday, May 26, through Monday, May 28

Where: Old Spanish Trail Arena, 3541 S. Hwy. 191

Cost: Free for spectators

Information: Call 970-210-6712

Barrel racing horses and their riders compete in three-day event