It’s rare air that Mary Burger has been breathing in Calgary. The Stampede’s 67-year-old sweetheart completed a full sweep of the barrel racing event Monday, winning her fourth straight round, with her fastest time of the week – a 17.33.

“I knew the crowd was up for it,” smiled the Oklahoma cowgirl. “I just wanted to do well for me and my horse, and the crowd.”

“I’ve never been in such an enthusiastic crowd as this. I mean, they really are into it. It kind of geared me just a little bit more, like ‘oh boy, let’s go’. I just wanted to get in there and do it.”

“It’s unreal. It’s just top of the world!”

Burger tops the Pool A race with a whopping $22,000, the highest of any competitor. Also advancing in the barrel racing from Pool A are a pair of Colorado cowgirls, Ivy Conrado ($13,000) and Kelley Schnaufer ($10,500), plus Texan Taylor Jacob ($8000).

Bareback rider Bobby Mote got the job done on Monday, with a little help from Buckskin Sally. The 86.5 point ride topped the round, giving the Texas cowboy the injection he needed to get him all the way through to Sunday, with $8000 in earnings.

“Relief,” is how Mote described his feeling after the ride. “The Wildcard round is great, but it’s hard to make it out of twelve guys and be in the top two. Everything’s got to go right. So to win today and bypass the Wildcard round, I’m happy about that.”

Caleb Bennett continued his regular march to the Stampede bank, placing for the fourth day, to finish first in Pool A with $16,500. Just behind him is RC Landingham of California ($11,000) and Jake Vold ($9000). But with Vold’s injury preventing him from advancing, Dusty LaValley gets the nod ($5500).

Curtis Cassidy of Donalda won the round in steer wrestling, with a 3.7 second run. But his fellow Canadian, Tanner Milan, was only a tenth behind him, and adding in the $4500 was enough to get him through to Sunday.

“I knew I could win no less than second today, and it’s exactly what I needed to do. It’s a lot of weight off the shoulders, just knowing that you’re there on Sunday, and don’t have to worry about Wildcard,” said Milan, who lives in Cochrane.

Milan’s $7000 total equaled K.C. Jones, and they both move on from Pool A. Seth Brockman finished with the highest income, at $15,500. Also advancing is Tyler Waguespack ($12,500).

It’s been quite a debut Stampede for saddle bronc rider Jake Watson. He placed in three of the four Pool A rounds. The 23-year-old B.C. cowboy saved his best for last, spurring out an 84 point ride on a horse called Dark Side for best of the day, and $5500.

Cort Scheer emerged the high bronc rider in Pool A to move on to Sunday ($15,500), followed by Watson and Rusty Wright (both at $11,500), then Chuck Schmidt ($7000).

Dakota Buttar became the only man to cover all four of his bulls, walking away with his third Stampede bronze of the week, this time for an 88 point ride on Neon Magic. That gives him $16,000. Joining him Showdown Sunday from Pool A will be Chandler Bownds and Ryan Dirteater ($11,500 each) along with Nathan Schaper ($10,500).

In tie-down roping, Ryle Smith of California finally found his stride and won Monday’s round in 8.2 seconds, for the $5500, his first cash at the Stampede. The four Pool A qualifiers from the event are Shane Hanchey ($12,500), Rhen Richard ($10,500), Marcos Costa ($9000), and in a tiebreaker, Clint Robinson ($8500).

Any contestants who didn’t make the top four in Pool A get one more shot to be among the two best in their event on Wildcard Saturday. Pool B competitors begin their journey Tuesday.