On New Years Day in 1911, two cowboy bronco busters decided to have a race. J. O. Nixon and William Saunders had thought about dueling but it was decided by the woman of their dreams that she would not appreciate the outcome of the contest, no matter who the winner might be.
It was further decided by the cowgirl, Miss Lillie Francis, a fellow bronco rider from Oklahoma, that the swiftest man of the day would win her hand in marriage. Both cowboys had professed their undying affection and it seemed a horse race was the only way she could choose between them as she loved both with equal heart and commitment.
The race would take place as part of the festivities of the day for the annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. Both men were dressed in their Sunday best in anticipation of the occasion and Miss Francis was atop her horse, anxiously awaiting the outcome, wanting to know with certainty, who she would be spending eternal married bliss to?
The Rose Bowl was filled with spectators awaiting the Chariot Races. When news of the cowboy race made it's way around the stadium, certain onlookers made cash bets on which cowboy would come away with the bride while members of a local women's organization made sure their disdain was known to all.
Little is known about the details of the race but Miss Lillie Francis and Mr. William Saunders enjoyed a long and happy marriage.
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