1. Caleb Bennett, 86.5 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s 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’s Web, Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo
SADDLE BRONC RIDING
Cody DeMoss-Resistol’s Top Hat, Stace Smith Pro Rodeo
Wade Sundell-Big Tex, Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo
Scarlet’s 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’s a reason Steve Kenyon and his ProRodeo Live team stay at The Grandview in Las Vegas: It’s the perfect fit for those staying for more than a few days.
It’s 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’s 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’ve 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’ve 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’t 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’ve encountered was when traffic was heavy. It’s 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’ve missed just one round buckle presentation because of another commitment, and I’ve got to spend time with some very dear friends.
That’s so much more important to me than the “prestige” of staying off Las Vegas Boulevard. I hope to make The Grandview my home every December.
LAS VEGAS – 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’s 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’s 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’s 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 – 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’s 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’s 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’s Dirty Jacket for an 88.5-point score, the highest marking in bareback riding at this year’s NFR.
Just a few days shy of his 22nd birthday, Champion will close out the greatest earnings season in the sport’s history. He just hopes to gift-wrap his own present in Round 10.
LAS VEGAS – Rodeo is a business; in Las Vegas, it’s 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’s 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.
“I was going to try to win the round, just like I want to do every night,” said Irwin, 24, of Robertsdale, Ala. “You win the round every night, you’ll win the world (title) at the end. But with Dakota Eldgridge going right before me and being 3.3 (seconds), I’m not going to make a dumb mistake and break the barrier to try to be 3.2.”
A broken barrier – not giving the steer the appropriate head start – results in a 10-second penalty. Sitting fourth in the all-important average race, Irwin didn’t need that type of delay heading into the final night of the 2014 season.
“I should have been a little faster, but I felt like that was a pretty smart business move we made tonight,” said Irwin, who attended Western Oklahoma College and Northwestern Oklahoma State University on rodeo scholarships. “I 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’s placed himself there with a solid performance on the biggest stage in which he has ever competed.
“This has been an awesome experience, no matter what happens from here on out,” Irwin said.
That’s just the way it should be for a man taking care of his business.
LAS VEGAS – 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’s best finish of this year’s championship.
“I got on her a little bit sooner and warmed her up a little bit more,” said Pierce, a three-time NFR qualifier from Edmond, Okla. “I treated her more like a colt so she could get by the first (barrel). I had her really focused.”
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.
“I have to actually ride and not put my reins in the middle and just hang on like I did with Dillion and Arson,” she said, referring to veteran horses she had found success on earlier. “It’s a little bit tough, actually, but I didn’t come here with any expectations. I just didn’t want to hit a barrel in the first round, because that’s what I’ve been known for.”
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.
“I really thought we’d be 14.3s, and anything faster would be super,” she said. “I had no idea she could compete with this atmosphere and with the horses she’s competing with.”
It has been super.
“Maybe not expecting too much is good,” Pierce said. “I’m used to knowing I have the best horse out there. I’m getting so much feedback, even from people I don’t know, and that shows she’s caught a lot of people’s eyes, even some of the girls here.
“I was just excited I made it to the finals and wanted to go out there and have respectful runs. She has really impressed me.”
LAS VEGAS – For most people, earning nearly $51,000 in nine nights would be an incredible payoff.
Coleman Proctor is a bit nit-picky.
“I don’t feel like I’ve roped as good as I can,” said Proctor, a header from Pryor, Okla., competing for the first time at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. “I’m not very happy with my performance.”
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 – he earned $1,000 more roping with another header, Charly Crawford, at a Wrangler Champions Challenge event.
“I understand that I’m fortunate for everything, and we’re blessed for any money we’ve won already,” Proctor said. “Whether we win another dime, it’s been a great experience and a lot of fun, and it’s been everything I hoped it would be.
“But I’m a competitor. I want to be a world champion. I don’t want to just make the finals. However many opportunities I feel like I can do better, I want to keep pushing myself.”
On Friday night, he and Long stopped the clock in 4.6 seconds to finish fifth, adding another $4,904.
“I have learned a lot and look forward to getting back here next year with Jake,” said Proctor, 29, who first began roping with Long when they were children. “My game plan was to really let Jake throw his rope a lot.”
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 – and has – happened in team roping. Only the reigning world champs, Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill, have had times in all nine go-rounds so far.
“You can’t get too up and too down on one steer,” Proctor said. “When bad runs happen, you have to pull your bad mistakes out of it and let it go.”
It’s worked so far.
“That’s what I try to do, and we went from fifth in the average when we walked in and are now fourth again,” he said. “It’s a roller coaster.”
It’s been a great ride so far.
LAS VEGAS – The rough stretch of Wrangler National Finals Rodeo rounds continues for the “Riding for the Brand” 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’s Classic Equine Sacred Sacrifice for 76 points to place seventh.
The regular-season leader has placed just twice, and he hasn’t 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 – $19,000 of which goes to the round winner – 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’t 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 – for not allowing the steer a proper head start – 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’s 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 – Something needed to change for steer wrestler Bray Armes, so he changed his hair style.
“I guess I had to see my professional barber, Casey Martin,” Armes said jokingly, referring to his traveling partner from Sulphur, La., who reconfigured the Texan’s top into a Mohawk. “It happened last night probably before the calf roping started, we had it shaved. We just needed a change.”
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’s 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.
“It was because my attitude, as most of you saw last night in the arena, was poor,” he said. “That’s not me, and I was pretty irritated with myself. You know we want to win, and sometimes we just try too dang hard. That’s just part of it.”
The Mohawk – and the attitude adjustment – 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.
“That’s funny, because the last two nights I’ve had probably the best one on them, and I’ve messed it up both times,” Armes said, referring to his fifth-place finish in Round 7 and his no-time Thursday. “I told them I want the one nobody else wants. I just need to back in there and go have fun. That’s what happened tonight, and we were blessed with a third-place check.”
It was a great way to celebrate his son’s birthday, but the Armes family is getting used to that.