PENDLETON - A young man and a seasoned veteran teamed up Saturday to bring home the Indian Relay Race trophy for Grizzly Mountain Express at the Pendleton Round-Up.
Oliver Pakootas, a 17-year-old jockey, and Sonny, a 12-year-old horse, made up major distance in the final lap to earn the victory.
"We made it all up on our last exchange," Pakootas said, adding it helped that Marchand's rider, of the same Colville tribe, fell off his horse while leading in the final lap.
It was Pakootas' first win at the Round-Up in four years of trying and Sonny's final race on the relatively short course. The rider said the Pendleton course is a lot faster than most, and more dangerous on the corners.
Byron Sam, a member of the Marchand team, said the rider was just a little sore after the spill and the trouble didn't put a damper on a strong season.
Each rider gets on three horses during the race, exchanging barebacks after each lap. Pakootas said crossing the finish line after falling ahead early was a great experience.
"It was adrenaline - all adrenaline," he said. "Winning here at the big show, it's awesome."
Indian Relay Races, which begin in June and run through September, are usually conducted on quarter-mile tracks, and the shorter Round-Up race leaves little room for error.
Williams, jockeyed by Tyson Williams, finished second in Saturday's competition.