9-year-old barrel racer rides in honor of her father

Little barrel racer honoring her dad

ABILENE, Texas - For Bree Vitek riding horses isn't just in her heart, it's in her blood.

"You get to watching her she gets to leaning forward and trying to get that jockey look about her... In her heart, her manners, her wants to please you I mean her dad was the same kind of person," said Bree's grandmother Kay Eppenauer. 

"He was a thoroughbred jockey. We watched races so I got to watch him sometimes," Bree said.

Three years ago, Bree's dad, professional jockey Justin Vitek, lost his life to leukemia. Bree currently lives with her mother and grandmother in noodle. Her grandmother said Bree's horses helped her get through it.

"I mean they're like best friends, like best friends, she just becomes one with them," said Eppenauer. 

The West Texas Barrel Racers Association Extravaganza is at the Taylor County Expo Center this weekend and this will be Bree's second year competing in it.

"There's going to be three barrels like in a triangle," said Bree. 

She said it won't be her last. She hopes to ride professionally for many years. In fact, Bree's ultimate goal is to compete in the professional rodeo in Las Vegas.  She said when she rides, she often thinks of her father.

"I'd like to be a good rider like he was a good rider," Bree said.

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