Quarter Horse and barrel racing gaining speed in the Heartland - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Quarter Horse and barrel racing gaining speed in the Heartland

PERRYVILLE, MO (KFVS) -

Place your bets. It's Kentucky Derby Time!

Of course, the race is run annually on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

The race is known as "The greatest two minutes in sports" for its approximate run time.

It's also referred to as "The run for the roses" due to the garland of 554 roses draped over the winner.

The maximum age for a competing horse is three years.

The favorite of 2015 is American Pharaoh.

We found out the Heartland is home to a different kind of racing trend spurred to new heights thanks to Derby fever.

Quarter Horse racing is taking off in a big way.

The newest in the saddle is Krystal Evans and her team at the Hope Therapeutic Horsemanship Center in Perryville, Missouri.

"They're the fastest in the short distance," said Evans.

She explains Quarter Horses are actually built for short distances.

"A good horse has good breeding, good blood-lines, good strong shoulders, a strong back," Evans said. "Their hips are built for speed."

She says its adrenalin filled competition for the short track.

"A lot of races for Quarter Horses are 300 yards," she said. "That's it."

Evans is getting her stock ready and breeding her newest mare.

From there, they'll race at tracks across the country.

Quarter Horse racing is extremely popular in Iowa, Oklahoma, and Indiana.

"When you get into horses it's in your blood, there's a special friendship in the horse world," Evans said. "We cheer on each other's victories in every kind of competition."

Evans isn't the only one in the Heartland into racing.

Gwen and Randy Williams of Williams Racing Stables in La Center remain active in the sport.

They'll have one of their young horses racing for a million dollar purse in Indiana next weekend, according to Gwen Williams.

Their stables have produced numerous past winner like Kool Quick Kid.

Now, Evans says thanks to the attention events like the Kentucky Derby have brought the horse world, Barrel Racing Competition is growing fast.

"I grew up in the saddle," said Sydney Cain, who barrel races. "I just can't imagine not doing it."

The Heartland is producing barrel racing winners too. Kora Bohnert took home third place in barrel racing last weekend.

"When I see others run barrels I stand up and cheer," said Cain.

The Hope Therapeutic Horsemanship Center also offers many therapy programs for people with special needs, veterans and others.

Evans says love for all things equine just sinks into your blood. She believes horses can help you heal, stand strong, and win the race of life - no matter who you are, or how old you are.

"It's joy," said Evans. "I've seen lives change because they fell in love with a horse,"

With tears in her eyes, she says it's more than a passion.

"It's a love you can't put into words," said Evans.

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