1. Caleb Bennett, 86.5 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo‚Äôs Dirty Jacket, $19,002; 2. Kaycee Feild, 86, $15,018; 3. (tie) Richie Champion, Winn Ratliff and Jake Vold, 85, $8,071 each; 6. Will Lowe, 82, $3,065.
One of the greatest bucking horse lineages in ProRodeo history will be on display during the 10th go-round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo tonight.
There are five horses that were sired by Night Jacket that will be featured in the TV pen in both bareback riding and saddle bronc riding. It should be magnificent action.
Winn Ratliff-Shady Nights, Pickett Pro Rodeo
Caleb Bennett-Dirty Jacket, Pete Carr Pro Rodeo
Kaycee Feild-Scarlet‚Äôs Web, Pete Carr‚Äôs Classic Pro Rodeo
SADDLE BRONC RIDING
Cody DeMoss-Resistol‚Äôs Top Hat, Stace Smith Pro Rodeo
Wade Sundell-Big Tex, Pete Carr‚Äôs Classic Pro Rodeo
Scarlet‚Äôs Web helped Casey Colletti to the 10th-round win last December and also helped him win the fifth round in 2012. The 12-year-old bay mare also matched moves with Tilden Hooper for 90 points to win the 10th round in 2008 and Tom McFarland to the sixth-round victory in 2007.
Dirty Jacket, the 2014 Bareback Horse of the Year, helped Richmond Champion to the fifth-round victory on Monday. The 10-year-old bay gelding was the 2013 Reserve World Champion Bareback Horse and finished third in 2012.
Big Tex, the 2010 Bareback Horse of the Year, helped Sundell to the San Antonio title earlier this year with a 90-point ride. He also is part of the highest-marked bareback riding score in NFR history, matching with Bobby Mote for 91.5.
There‚Äôs a reason Steve Kenyon and his ProRodeo Live team stay at The Grandview in Las Vegas: It‚Äôs the perfect fit for those staying for more than a few days.
It‚Äôs been my perfect home since I arrived.
The Grandview is next to the South Point, home of the nightly Montana Silversmiths Go-Round Buckle Presentation. It‚Äôs convenient to the host of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo events: the Gold Buckle Gala, the Welcome Reception and the awards events. The South Point is home to the PRCA national convention, and being so close is a great opportunity for committee members.
For me, each suite has a nice bathroom with shower and an adjacent Jacuzzi tub. The kitchen is bigger than some apartments I‚Äôve lived in, and each room has a washer and dryer. Between cooking for yourself and taking care of your own laundry, hundreds of dollars are saved.
I‚Äôve stayed at non-smoking, non-gaming suite resorts before, including one attached to one of the major locations on The Strip. While the elegance was superb, it wasn‚Äôt the most convenient. Even though it was only blocks from the Thomas & Mack Center, it oftentimes took 15 minutes to get to the arena.
But from The Grandview, the only 15-minute commute I‚Äôve encountered was when traffic was heavy. It‚Äôs actually easier to make my way to the arena than it was a year ago, when I might wait half an hour for the valet-only complex to deliver my car.
When I wanted to visit my friends on The Strip, it was quite a jaunt from my room to the casino and party area. Now, I cross the street and am inside the South Point in three minutes. I‚Äôve missed just one round buckle presentation because of another commitment, and I‚Äôve got to spend time with some very dear friends.
That‚Äôs so much more important to me than the ‚Äúprestige‚ÄĚ of staying off Las Vegas Boulevard. I hope to make The Grandview my home every December.
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď It took Richmond Champion four go-rounds to find a match-up that worked well for him at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Since then, it‚Äôs all worked out pretty good for the 21-year-old cowboy from The Woodlands, Texas. He has placed in five of nine rounds, two of which were wins. On Friday night, he matched moves with J Bar J Rodeo‚Äôs Painted Brush for 83 points to finish in a ninth-round tie with four-time world champion Bobby Mote.
Both men added $9,654. More importantly for the young Texan, he sits second in the average race with 729.5 cumulative points on nine rides. He trails three-time reigning champion Kaycee Feild by just three points heading into Saturday night‚Äôs 10th go-round. Feild has a fairly solid grasp of his fourth straight gold buckle, but it will come down to the final night of the season to confirm it.
Champion has had a phenomenal season. He has earned more than $1.25 million riding bareback horses ‚Äď he won The American in March, which paid him $1.1 million, and has added more than $150,000 in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association earnings. Of that, more than $60,000 has come over the last nine nights in Sin City.
More importantly, he has a big chance to make more. Should he remain second in the average when the NFR concludes Saturday night, he will add $39,537 in the average payout. Should he scoot past Field, the average champion will earn $48,732.
Of course, there‚Äôs also the chance to win $19,000 for winning the go-round. The 10th round features the very best bareback horses in the sport. The blind draw has matched Champion with Pickett Pro Rodeo‚Äôs Scarlet Fever, so the opportunity is there. Champion won the fifth round, which also featured this same group of horses, when he rode Pete Carr Pro Rodeo‚Äôs Dirty Jacket for an 88.5-point score, the highest marking in bareback riding at this year‚Äôs NFR.
Just a few days shy of his 22nd birthday, Champion will close out the greatest earnings season in the sport‚Äôs history. He just hopes to gift-wrap his own present in Round 10.
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď Rodeo is a business; in Las Vegas, it‚Äôs big business.
The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo has a purse of $6.375 million with nightly payouts of more than $61,000 in each of the eight disciplines. Steer wrestler Kyle Irwin has been taking care of business.
That was most evident in Friday night‚Äôs ninth round, where he posted a 4.3-second run to finish in a tie for fifth place with Oklahoman Cole Edge; both men earned $3,984.
‚ÄúI was going to try to win the round, just like I want to do every night,‚ÄĚ said Irwin, 24, of Robertsdale, Ala. ‚ÄúYou win the round every night, you‚Äôll win the world (title) at the end. But with Dakota Eldgridge going right before me and being 3.3 (seconds), I‚Äôm not going to make a dumb mistake and break the barrier to try to be 3.2.‚ÄĚ
A broken barrier ‚Äď not giving the steer the appropriate head start ‚Äď results in a 10-second penalty. Sitting fourth in the all-important average race, Irwin didn‚Äôt need that type of delay heading into the final night of the 2014 season.
‚ÄúI should have been a little faster, but I felt like that was a pretty smart business move we made tonight,‚ÄĚ said Irwin, who attended Western Oklahoma College and Northwestern Oklahoma State University on rodeo scholarships. ‚ÄúI just need to knock my steer down tomorrow. If I can go out and be fast, make a good run on whatever steer they give me, I can put pressure on those other guys.
He has more than doubled his season earnings in Las Vegas, placing in five rounds, including at least a share of the win on three nights. He has pocketed nearly $62,000 and has moved to fourth in the world standings with $121,647.
He trails leader Luke Branquinho by about $32,000. Branquinho, a four-time world champion, is the average leader and has a stranglehold on his fifth gold buckle. But Irwin is well within reach should something happen Saturday night. He‚Äôs placed himself there with a solid performance on the biggest stage in which he has ever competed.
‚ÄúThis has been an awesome experience, no matter what happens from here on out,‚ÄĚ Irwin said.
That‚Äôs just the way it should be for a man taking care of his business.
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď The work is paying off for Carlee Pierce and Streakin Easy April.
On Friday night during the ninth go-round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Pierce and her talented young horse rounded the cloverleaf pattern in 13.90 seconds to finish second and collect $15,018. It is the tandem‚Äôs best finish of this year‚Äôs championship.
‚ÄúI got on her a little bit sooner and warmed her up a little bit more,‚ÄĚ said Pierce, a three-time NFR qualifier from Edmond, Okla. ‚ÄúI treated her more like a colt so she could get by the first (barrel). I had her really focused.‚ÄĚ
The first barrel has been a little trouble for the filly, a 6-year-old sorrel mare she calls Lolo, who has been wide several go-rounds, slowing the time needed to compete for a top-six round finish. Still, they have placed five times and have earned more than $40,000 in the process.
‚ÄúI have to actually ride and not put my reins in the middle and just hang on like I did with Dillion and Arson,‚ÄĚ she said, referring to veteran horses she had found success on earlier. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a little bit tough, actually, but I didn‚Äôt come here with any expectations. I just didn‚Äôt want to hit a barrel in the first round, because that‚Äôs what I‚Äôve been known for.‚ÄĚ
She has found great surprises so far, and one round remains Saturday night. Pierce has a cumulative time of 137.64 seconds on nine runs and is sixth in the average.
‚ÄúI really thought we‚Äôd be 14.3s, and anything faster would be super,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúI had no idea she could compete with this atmosphere and with the horses she‚Äôs competing with.‚ÄĚ
It has been super.
‚ÄúMaybe not expecting too much is good,‚ÄĚ Pierce said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm used to knowing I have the best horse out there. I‚Äôm getting so much feedback, even from people I don‚Äôt know, and that shows she‚Äôs caught a lot of people‚Äôs eyes, even some of the girls here.
‚ÄúI was just excited I made it to the finals and wanted to go out there and have respectful runs. She has really impressed me.‚ÄĚ
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď For most people, earning nearly $51,000 in nine nights would be an incredible payoff.
Coleman Proctor is a bit nit-picky.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt feel like I‚Äôve roped as good as I can,‚ÄĚ said Proctor, a header from Pryor, Okla., competing for the first time at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm not very happy with my performance.‚ÄĚ
With partner Jake Long of Coffeyville, Kan., Proctor has placed in six of nine go-rounds. He is fifth in the world standings with $126,587, while Long is fourth on the heading money list ‚Äď he earned $1,000 more roping with another header, Charly Crawford, at a Wrangler Champions Challenge event.
‚ÄúI understand that I‚Äôm fortunate for everything, and we‚Äôre blessed for any money we‚Äôve won already,‚ÄĚ Proctor said. ‚ÄúWhether we win another dime, it‚Äôs been a great experience and a lot of fun, and it‚Äôs been everything I hoped it would be.
‚ÄúBut I‚Äôm a competitor. I want to be a world champion. I don‚Äôt want to just make the finals. However many opportunities I feel like I can do better, I want to keep pushing myself.‚ÄĚ
On Friday night, he and Long stopped the clock in 4.6 seconds to finish fifth, adding another $4,904.
‚ÄúI have learned a lot and look forward to getting back here next year with Jake,‚ÄĚ said Proctor, 29, who first began roping with Long when they were children. ‚ÄúMy game plan was to really let Jake throw his rope a lot.‚ÄĚ
The duo has suffered two no-times but remain fourth in the average championship with a cumulative time of 43.4 seconds on seven qualified times. If they remain in that position, the tandem will add nearly $23,000 to their earnings Saturday night. But anything can ‚Äď and has ‚Äď happened in team roping. Only the reigning world champs, Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill, have had times in all nine go-rounds so far.
‚ÄúYou can‚Äôt get too up and too down on one steer,‚ÄĚ Proctor said. ‚ÄúWhen bad runs happen, you have to pull your bad mistakes out of it and let it go.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs worked so far.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs what I try to do, and we went from fifth in the average when we walked in and are now fourth again,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a roller coaster.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs been a great ride so far.
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď The rough stretch of Wrangler National Finals Rodeo rounds continues for the ‚ÄúRiding for the Brand‚ÄĚ cowboys, Clint Cooper of Decatur, Texas; Jim Ross Cooper of Monument, N.M.; and Taos Muncy of Corona, N.M.
Muncy, a who won world titles in 2007 and 2011, finished just half a point out of the money Thursday night in the ninth go-round. He rode Cervi Championship Rodeo‚Äôs Classic Equine Sacred Sacrifice for 76 points to place seventh.
The regular-season leader has placed just twice, and he hasn‚Äôt collected a check since the fourth round. But he has an excellent opportunity for a big payday on Saturday, the final night of the 2014 season. Not only is there $61,298 available in go-round payouts ‚Äď $19,000 of which goes to the round winner ‚Äď but Muncy is in position to earn nearly $23,000 in average money.
He has scored a cumulative total of 612.5 points on eight rides and sits fourth in the average race. He can‚Äôt win the average; two cowboys, Cort Scheer and Spencer Wright, have ridden all nine broncs so far. But a good average check would go a long ways to helping.
Heeler Jim Ross Cooper and his partner, Brandon Beers, finally changed their luck a little Friday. After three straight no-times, Cooper and Beers posted a 4.1-second run; unfortunately, they were saddled with 15 seconds in penalty. A broken barrier ‚Äď for not allowing the steer a proper head start ‚Äď added 10 seconds, then Cooper captured just one leg for another five.
They fared a little better than Clint Cooper, who had a no time. Financially, though, the Lovington, N.M.-raised cowboy has had the best NFR of all three Tate Branch Auto Group cowboys, having earned $38,720. He has placed four times.
The curtain falls on the 2014 season Saturday night. There is plenty of money available for the contestants.
1. Sage Kimzey, 87.5 points on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo‚Äôs Foolish Man, $19,002; 2. Tim Bingham, 86.5, $15,018; 3. Joe Frost, 83.5, $11,340; 4. Elliot Jacoby, 82.5, $7,969; no other qualified rides.
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď Something needed to change for steer wrestler Bray Armes, so he changed his hair style.
‚ÄúI guess I had to see my professional barber, Casey Martin,‚ÄĚ Armes said jokingly, referring to his traveling partner from Sulphur, La., who reconfigured the Texan‚Äôs top into a Mohawk. ‚ÄúIt happened last night probably before the calf roping started, we had it shaved. We just needed a change.‚ÄĚ
Armes, who grew up in the Texas Panhandle community of Gruver and now lives in Ponder, Texas, has struggled through a good portion of the 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He has placed in five rounds, but his best finish was fourth. That‚Äôs quite a change over his two previous trips to Las Vegas, where he earned more than $185,000 in 2012-13.
But the main purpose for the new hairdo had more to do with a personal feeling than it did with karma.
‚ÄúIt was because my attitude, as most of you saw last night in the arena, was poor,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs not me, and I was pretty irritated with myself. You know we want to win, and sometimes we just try too dang hard. That‚Äôs just part of it.‚ÄĚ
The Mohawk ‚Äď and the attitude adjustment ‚Äď worked. On Friday night, Armes grappled his steer to the ground in 4.1 seconds to finish third in the ninth go-round. That was worth $11,340, and it happened on one of the toughest steers in the herd.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs funny, because the last two nights I‚Äôve had probably the best one on them, and I‚Äôve messed it up both times,‚ÄĚ Armes said, referring to his fifth-place finish in Round 7 and his no-time Thursday. ‚ÄúI told them I want the one nobody else wants. I just need to back in there and go have fun. That‚Äôs what happened tonight, and we were blessed with a third-place check.‚ÄĚ
It was a great way to celebrate his son‚Äôs birthday, but the Armes family is getting used to that.
1. Trula Churchill, 13.67 seconds, $19,002; 2. Carlee Pierce, 13.90, $15,018; 3. Samantha Lyne, 13.94, $11,340; 4. (tie) Lisa Lockhart and Nancy Hunter, 13.96, $6,436 each; 6. Fallon Taylor, 14.04, $3,065.
1. (tie) Cade Swor and Trevor Brazile, 7.6¬† seconds, $17,010 each; 3. Tuf Cooper, 7.7, $11,340; 4. Hunter Herrin, 7.8, $7,969; 5. Timber Moore, 7.9, $4,904; 6. Matt Shiozawa, 9.2, $3,065.
1. Wade Sundell, 82.5 points on Big Bend Rodeo‚Äôs Broken Camp, $19,002; 2. Jake Wright, 82, $15,018;¬† 3. Spencer Wright, 83, $11,340; 4. (tie) Dustin Flundra and Chad Ferley, 79.5, $6,436; 6. Jesse Wright, 76.5, $3,065.
1. Kaycee Feild, 85.5 points on J Bar J‚Äôs Dirty Rags, $19,002; 2. Jake Vold, 84, $15,018; 3. (tie) Richie Champion and Bobby Mote, 83, $9,654 each; 5. Justin McDaniel, 82.5, $4,904; 6. Tilden Hooper, 82, $3,065.
1. Nick Sartain/Rich Skelton, 3.9 seconds, $19,002; 2. Kaleb Driggers/Patrick Smith, 4.1, $15,018; 3. Tom Richards/Cesar de la Cruz, 4.4, $11,304; 4. Aaron Tsinigine/Clay O‚ÄôBrien Cooper, 4.5, $7,969; 5. Coleman Proctor/Jake Long, 4.6, $4,904; 6. Clay Tryan/Jade Corkill, 5.2, $3,065.
1. Dakota Eldridge, 3.3, $19,002; 2. Luke Branquinho, 3.9, $15,018; 3. Bray Armes, 4.1, $11,340;¬† 4. Nick Guy, 4.2, $7,969; 5. Cole Edge and Kyle Irwin, 4.3, $3,984 each.
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď The Thomas & Mack Center‚Äôs arena is not the optimum place to race around the cloverleaf pattern that is barrel racing.
The women and their blazing fast horses sprint down a blind alley, then must find the first barrel as quickly as possible. Even veteran Wrangler National Finals Rodeo horses struggle at times through the 10-round championship.
Carlee Pierce isn‚Äôt riding a veteran. In fact, she‚Äôs riding Lolo, a 6-year-old sorrel mare now competing at a rodeo for just the 10th time in her life. On Thursday night during the eighth round, the tandem finished the pattern in 14.10 seconds.
While that is amazingly fast, it was well off the pace to collect a check. The biggest component, though, was that first barrel, where Pierce and Lolo took a wide turn. In an event that is separated by hundredths of a second, that extra time made all the difference in the world. They finished 10th in the round ‚Äď only the top six times cash a check.
Pierce has remained steady on the filly. Their cumulative time of 123.74 seconds is eighth in the average race. If she holds that position, the Edmond, Okla., cowgirl can add $4,597 when the rodeo concludes Saturday night.
But Pierce looks to cash in a little sooner than that. Each round offers a $61,298 purse, with the winners pocketing $19,000. There are two nights remaining on the 2014 ProRodeo season, and she looks to make a little more bank in the process. So far, she has earned $25,439.
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď Richmond Champion found himself on top of a difficult puzzle Thursday night.
The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is a mixed bag of amazing animals, but Champion found a way to put the pieces of the package together, riding Sankey Rodeo‚Äôs Sudoku for 82 points to finish the eighth round in third place. That was worth an additional $11,340.
The young cowboy is having the time of his life riding the greatest ‚Äď and, as was the case Thursday, the most difficult ‚Äď bucking horses in the sport. The eighth round featured the eliminator pen, the nastiest bareback horses in this year‚Äôs finale, and Sudoku definitely fit the bill.
Champion, of The Woodlands, Texas, is just days away from his 22nd birthday, but he‚Äôs riding like a veteran. In fact, he has performed better than a number of veterans. Of the 15 men in the bareback riding field, only three others have earned more.
He has placed in four of the last five go-rounds ‚Äď including victories in Rounds 5 and 7 ‚Äď and has collected more than $50,000. That‚Äôs a pretty good wage for eight days of work, but Champion has made a habit out of cashing in on the backs of bucking horses.
In March, he won $1.1 million at The American, a non-Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association sanctioned event that offered a large incentive for qualifiers. Champion not only won the bareback riding title but was the only contestant who worked through the qualifier system to do so.
He‚Äôs done awfully well in the PRCA, too. He qualified for his first NFR as the No. 7 man in the world standings. He has now pushed his season earnings past $140,000 and sits fifth with two rounds remaining.
Champion also sits fourth in the average race with 646.5 points. If he finishes in that position, he will add another $23,000 on Saturday night. But he‚Äôs just half a point out of third place, which pays a little more than $31,000. Of course, winning rounds pays $19,000, and the Texas cowboy knows that as well as anybody in the field.
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď Steer wrestler Kyle Irwin arrived in the Nevada desert on fire, placing in the first three go-rounds of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
That included sharing the second-round title with four-time world champion Luke Banquinho and winning the third round outright. But the Alabama cowboy found a cool streak among the sandy terrain and cacti ‚Äď for four nights.
He found the branding iron again Thursday with 3.7-second run, tying him for the eighth-round victory with Montana cowboy Ty Erickson. For that, each cowboy earned $17,010.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm not going to say I have or haven‚Äôt had the steers to place or to win go-rounds on, but the draw does play a huge role,‚ÄĚ said Irwin, 24, of Robertsdale, Ala. ‚ÄúI have made some mistakes and a lot of that was me, but I got by what I think are some pretty trashy steers ‚Ä¶ ones that can take you out of it.
‚Äú(Thursday) I had one that I knew was going to give me a good chance, and I took full advantage of him. When you get a good one, win on him; when you get an OK one, get by him.‚ÄĚ
That philosophy is working well for Irwin, who attended Western Oklahoma College and Northwestern Oklahoma State University on rodeo scholarships. He has earned nearly $58,000 in just eight nights and has pushed his 2014 earnings to $117,431. He is fourth in the world standings.
He also found a little positive karma prior to the performance.
‚ÄúI took a ride with Joe Beaver today in a cab, and we were talking about everything,‚ÄĚ Irwin said. ‚ÄúHe said, ‚ÄėI‚Äôve been lucky before, so I‚Äôm going to shake your hand and rub some off on you.‚Äô I don‚Äôt know what Joe‚Äôs got going on tomorrow, but we‚Äôre getting in a cab and riding around again tomorrow.‚ÄĚ
Joe Beaver is one of the ProRodeo‚Äôs legends, an eight-time world champion who also serves as an analyst for the NFR broadcasts. His words ‚Äď and that handshake ‚Äď helped the first-time NFR qualifier. He collects his third round victory, this time with another NFR rookie in Erickson.
‚ÄúI think that says a lot about our industry and about the youth coming up,‚ÄĚ Irwin said. ‚ÄúNo part of me thinks this was a fluke, that I‚Äôm here because I deserve to be here, and I put in just as much effort and went to just as many rodeos, paid as many entry fees as everybody else, so I‚Äôm going to celebrate this round win. I think Ty should feel the same way.‚ÄĚ
LAS VEGAS ‚Äď No matter how many times one rolls the dice, it sometimes just comes up craps.
That was the case with the ‚ÄúRiding for the Brand‚ÄĚ cowboys on Thursday night. While saddle bronc rider Taos Muncy had a qualified ride and tie-down roper Clint Cooper scored a quick run, neither they nor heeler Jim Ross Cooper placed in the eighth go-round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Clint Cooper, who grew up in Lovington, N.M., and resides in Decatur, Texas, roped and tied his calf in 7.4 seconds. He finished seventh in the round, one spot out of the money. His 2014 earnings stand at $108,316, eighth in the world standings.
Jim Ross Cooper and his header, Brandon Beers, suffered their third straight no-time. Cooper, of Monument, N.M., sits 10th in the world standings with $97,267.
Muncy, a two-time world champion from Corona, N.M., has watched his lead in the bronc riding dwindle. He has earned less than $15,000 at the NFR and sits third in the world standings with $141,437. He also is fourth in the average race, having ridden seven of eight horses for 536 cumulative points.
Two nights remain in the 2014 season. Muncy trails the No. 1 man, Heith DeMoss, by more than $22,000, but the New Mexican holds a better position in the average race.