Sept. 30, 2014
Feild rolls toward Vegas with second Omaha win
When the bright lights come on, Kaycee Feild shines.
It’s nothing new to rodeo fans, who have seen the 27-year-old dominate bareback riding the past three seasons, collecting three consecutive gold buckles. On Sept. 26, the Spanish Fork, Utah, cowboy added more hardware to his bulging trophy case.
Feild captured his second Justin Boots Championships title in the last three years with an 85-point ride on Korkow Rodeo’s Flashcard Champ at CenturyLink Arena.
“I had never been on that horse before, but I had seen him in Gooding, Idaho,” Feild said. “He bucked a young kid off in about three jumps, and I’ve had my eye on him ever since, and I was very happy to see the draw. He came around tight to the left tonight, which meant he stayed close to the judges and showed off a little bit. That horse was one that was really fun to ride, and was one I could ride for 15 seconds.”
Feild came to Omaha with a lead of almost $40,000 over second-place Steven Peebles in the world standings, and the $9,484 he earned helped increase the lead he carries to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo to $45,455.
The defending world champ says Omaha, Neb., is a springboard for Las Vegas, and that success in Omaha always gives him a mental boost in the two-month break between now and the WNFR.
“Omaha is one of those rodeos where if you come in and do well, it makes going to Vegas seem easier, and if you don’t do well here, it gives you a bad vibe to end the season,” Feild said. “A win here is pretty important to me, because then I have the right thoughts in my head the next few months.”
Feild tried to cut back on the number of rodeos he went to in 2014, in order to stay fresher and healthier as he enters the WNFR as the favorite to win his fourth straight gold buckle.
“I’m feeling great physically and mentally,” he said. “I tried to set a number at the beginning of the season for the amount of rodeos I wanted to go to, and it was about 60. Once you get to 75 or 80 rodeos, you get more bumps and bruises, which doesn’t allow you to ride to your full potential. I set season goals and long-term goals before every season, and I have a list of rodeos I want to win and rodeos I need to win each year. Omaha is one I always want to win.”
Other winners at the $248,594 Justin Boots Championships were steer wrestlers Clayton Hass, Billy Bugenig and Riley Duvall (3.9 seconds each), team ropers Tom Richards and Cesar de la Cruz (4.6 seconds), saddle bronc rider Taos Muncy (83 points on J Bar J Rodeo’s Tipped Off), tie-down roper Ryan Jarrett (6.8 seconds, tying arena record), barrel racer Sarah Rose McDonald (14.51 seconds) and bull rider Tim Bingham (85 points on Dakota Rodeo’s Chubby).
Wright has familiar Omaha success
Jesse Wright is hoping the road through Omaha he took two years ago will lead to the same final destination at the end of 2014.
The 2012 saddle bronc riding world champion had quite a weekend at the CenturyLink Arena, winning the Wrangler Champions Challenge Finale Sept. 27 after placing second at the Justin Boots Championships a night earlier.
Success in Omaha is nothing new for Wright, who won the Justin Boots Championships in 2012 on his way to winning the gold buckle.
“I won Omaha the year I won the world with an 86-point ride, just like I had tonight,” Wright said. “I went out with a bang to end that regular season, and I’m hoping it pans out the same way this year as it did in 2012.”
Wright’s 86-point trip on Korkow Rodeo’s Queenie came on a re-ride. He was happy to see her.
“She’s old, and they haven’t bucked her very much. This was the first time they’ve busted her out in the last couple months, and she was outstanding,” Wright said of Queenie. “She was electric and quick, and made me look extra good.”
Wright, who competed for Team ProRodeo Hall of Fame, entered the week 12th in the Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings, and wanted to make some moves to get himself in better position heading to Las Vegas. Mission accomplished.
His win on Sept. 27 netted $5,168, and coupled with the $4,864 he earned for splitting second in the Justin Boots Championships, Wright moved to eighth in the final regular-season standings.
“I’m hoping these checks put me in a position to have a good chance at winning another gold buckle,” said the 25-year-old Wright. “I’m going to work out hard and get on a bunch of practice horses between now and the NFR. I’m planning on going down there and drawing the good ones and capitalizing on them, and hopefully coming out on top.”
The Milford, Utah, cowboy is feeling good, and appears to be peaking at the right time of the year.
“I’m riding way better right now than I have all year long,” he said. “I was fighting my head and my saddle there for a few months, but now I’ve got it all turned around, and it feels great.”
Other winners at the WCC were bareback rider Tim O’Connell, Team ProRodeo Hall of Fame (87 points on Three Hills Rodeo’s Angel Eyes), steer wrestler Nick Guy, Team PRCA (4.1 seconds), team ropers Trevor Brazile and Travis Graves, Team B&W Trailer Hitches, and Tom Richards and Allen Bach, Team ProRodeo Fan Zone (3.9 seconds each), barrel racer Mary Walker, Team Justin Boots (14.36 seconds) and bull rider Trey Benton III , Team Pendleton Whisky (89.5 points on Rafter H Rodeo’s No. 37Y).
The year-end Wrangler Champions Challenge team champions are B&W Trailer Hitches, with $116,280. Team members include bareback rider Bobby Mote, steer wrestler Dakota Eldridge, team ropers Brazile and Graves, saddle bronc rider Jacobs Crawley, tie-down roper Brazile, barrel racer Lisa Lockhart and bull rider Brennon Eldred.
Team RAM came in second with $113,307, while Team Pendleton Whisky and Team Justin Boots were third and fourth, respectively.
Bubble cowboys qualify for WNFR on last weekend
After a 10-year absence, bull rider Beau Hill is headed back to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo as one of a handful of contestants who made the Big Show in Las Vegas during a frantic final week of the regular season.
The West Glacier, Mont., cowboy made his advance a reality by finishing third at the Justin Boots Championships in Omaha on Sept. 26, and also adding a check in Kansas City the next day.
“This is great,” Hill, 35, said about returning to the Wrangler NFR for the first time since 2004. “It’s the goal at the beginning of the year to get in the Finals and win a world championship. I was, like, $600 out that last weekend and I knew I had to win, and it felt good to have that pressure and get the job done.”
Thanks to winning $4,456 in Omaha and $355 for tying for sixth place at the American Royal Pro Rodeo in Kansas City, Hill moved from 16th to 13th, ahead of Aaron Pass, Elliot Jacoby and Brett Stall. Stall finished $1,498 behind Jacoby for the final qualifying spot.
There was also a change at the top end of the bull riding standings, required because four-time and reigning World Champion J.W. Harris failed to compete in the minimum number of PRCA rodeos required (40) to be able to count the money earned on the Xtreme Bulls Tour.
Without the $47,726 he earned as Tour champion, Harris dropped from third to sixth in the world standings with $77,307 – $65,858 behind leader Sage Kimzey.
“That’s going to light a fire under me and motivate me more to do good out there (at the WNFR),” Harris said.
While Harris dropped three spots, Hill was just worried about making it into the top 15. His 83-point ride aboard Cervi Championship Rodeo’s Beer Gut is what helped punch his ticket to Las Vegas for the Dec. 4-13 Wrangler NFR.
“I had never been on that bull before,” Hill said. “I saw him in Fort Madison (Iowa) a few weeks before and Howdy Cloud rode him for 85 points, so I knew he was a really good bull. I knew I was just going to have to do my part. It was a great bull. He jumped out there and turned back into my hand and was just really good. I kind of got to spurring on him at the end and it just felt like I made a great ride.”
Although the Justin Boots Championships ended Sept. 26, Hill didn’t realize he placed third behind Tim Bingham (85 points) and Trey Benton III (84) until the next day.
“I was in Kansas City and I didn’t think I was going to end up finishing that high (at Omaha), but that’s just the way it worked out, that I finished third,” Hill said. “It was pretty exciting.”
This is Hill’s third trip to the WNFR, with his other two trips coming in 2002 and 2004 when he finished seventh and fifth, respectively, in the world standings.
“Ten years (since going to the Finals) is a long time, and it feels special to me to make it,” Hill said. “That was a goal of mine at the beginning of the year, and I guess I’m running out of years as far as bull riders go, so it feels good to reach a goal like this.”
Hill wasn’t the only cowboy to qualify for the WNFR with a flurry in the last week, as bareback rider Steven Dent, steer wrestler Seth Brockman, saddle bronc rider Dustin Flundra, and pending an audit, the team roping pair of Tom Richards and Cesar de la Cruz, made it into the WNFR field by each finishing 15th.
Richards and de la Cruz advanced to the coveted Wrangler National Finals Rodeo with huge final weeks.
Richards pocketed $12,120, and de la Cruz earned $10,858.
Pending further review, Richards made his first WNFR with $66,744 – $1,802 more than 16th-place Chad Masters, who won gold buckles in 2007 and 2012. De la Cruz has now qualified for nine WNFRs in a row after edging out No. 16 Kinney Harrell by $2,774.
Dent qualified for his seventh WNFR berth, and fifth in a row, with checks in Omaha, Neb., San Bernardino, Calif., and Stephenville, Texas, to bump injury-plagued R.C. Landingham out of the 15th spot by $3,532.
The highlight for Dent was his win in Stephenville, where his 91-point ride on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Jacket equaled the highest-scored bareback ride of the season; Richmond Champion was also 91 on Dirty Jacket at the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days. Dent started the week 16th.
Brockman, of Wheatland, Wyo., rose from 17th to 14th during the week by tying for second place at the Wrangler Champions Challenge in Omaha, and tying for seventh in the Justin Boots Championships, for total earnings of $5,800.
Ty Erickson dropped to 15th, and the odd man out was Blake Knowles, who fell all the way to 18th in this closest of all the races. Erickson’s total earnings of $52,470 was just $64 better than No. 16 Tom Lewis, and Riley Duvall was $445 back in 17th. This will be Brockman’s second WNFR qualification; he made the field in 2011 and placed in three rounds.
In saddle bronc riding, Dustin Flundra edged Troy Crowser by a mere $148 to claim the No. 15 spot.
Despite having used up his rodeo count (he won two checks during the week), Spencer Wright held on to the 13th spot in the world standings to earn his first WNFR berth and join brothers Cody, Jesse and Jake in the field. It is the first time four brothers have ever qualified for the WNFR.
Tie-down roper Cody Ohl, who was outside the top 50 in mid-July, moved up one more spot to 14th, and will be going to his 20th WNFR.
Wrangler Champions Challenge growing in 2015
Heading into its second full year, the Wrangler Champions Challenge, presented by Justin Boots, has added three rodeos and an 11th team while maintaining its full complement of team sponsors and TV coverage. (Prize money remains $124,000 at most events in 2015 other than Kissimmee, Fla., where the committee has added an extra $1,000 for each event. Contestants took home more than $950,000 from the 2014 series’ eight stops.)
Not only did all of the 2014 WCC hosts return to the lineup for 2015, three more committees have signed on for the new season: Logandale, Nev.; Cody, Wyo., and Pueblo, Colo.
“We are thrilled to have more and more people interested in hosting the best cowboys and cowgirls at Wrangler Champions Challenge events,” said PRCA Commissioner Karl Stressman. “It’s a great event for the hosting committees – growing into new cities shows that the star power of the Wrangler Champions Challenge boosts rodeo attendance. It’s also the future of ProRodeo on TV, because that same star power means the TV consumer can follow the same faces on TV each broadcast. Creating star power is one of the ways we parallel other mainstream sports and position ourselves for even more growth.”
There’s also a sense of excitement in adding another team to the Wrangler Champions Challenge structure, said PRCA Director of Properties Sara Muirheid, because it gives contestants an additional chance to gain admittance to the elite tour.
“With two seats coming from the 2015 Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings, and two seats coming from the standings of the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour, presented by Justin Boots, fans can count on watching who is at the top of their game next season,” Muirheid said.
Under the new format, there will no longer be a team made up of venue champions from the previous year, but instead the host committee will be able to field a “home team” by signing a sponsor.
Over the course of the 2014 season, RAM, ProRodeo Gear and the ProRodeo Hall of Fame joined initial team sponsors Wrangler, Justin Boots, Coors, B&W Trailer Hitches, Pendleton Whisky and the PRCA itself. Sponsors for 2015 teams will be announced in December, before those sponsors compete for players at a public draft in Las Vegas Dec. 14.
CBS SportsNet will televise all 2015 Wrangler Champions Challenge events.
The Wrangler Champions Challenge is “a great opportunity to compete against 10 guys and have a chance at $5,000,” said bulldogger Trevor Knowles, among the top money-earners over the 2014 Wrangler Champions Challenge series with more than $28,000, and one of only two contestants to win three 2014 Wrangler Champions Challenge events in 2014. (The other was Ryan Jarrett.) “We’re always going after the opportunity to win good money, and expanding (the series) gives us more opportunities. The more we can win, and the more sponsorship dollars the sport can produce, the better off we all are.”
Binion is ProRodeo Legend of 2014
On the 30th anniversary of the National Finals Rodeo moving to Las Vegas, the man most responsible for bringing it to the desert – Benny Binion – is being honored as the 2014 Legend of ProRodeo at the Wrangler Gold Buckle Gala Dec. 1 at the South Point Hotel and Casino.
“He’d get a big kick out of it, and he’d be proud,” said Brenda Michael, one of Binion’s five children. “He didn’t watch any sports; rodeo was the only entertainment he liked.
“He liked livestock and bucking horses. He liked the cowboys.”
Binion, who passed away in 1989, was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1988. In 1985, he was named ProRodeo Man of the Year for bringing the NFR to Vegas.
Born in 1901, Binion was nicknamed “Cowboy.” He moved to Las Vegas from his native Texas, where he had raised some of the best bucking horses and bulls in rodeo. He worked for 30 years to bring a big-time rodeo to Vegas, and succeeded in 1985. The 10 days of the Finals each December have become some of the most lucrative for the city.
“He wanted to get it out there for a long time,” Michael said. “He thought that’s where it needed to be. It was better for the rodeo and good for Las Vegas.”
The reception and silent auction will get under way at 6 p.m., with the dinner at 7 o’clock featuring live entertainment by Las Vegas performers and the Legend Award presentation. Tickets are $100 apiece, or $900 for a table of 10. The deadline for reserving tickets is Nov. 24.
Raffle tickets for a 35th anniversary ProRodeo Hall of Fame saddle will be sold at the Gala with the drawing held at the end of the evening. Live auction items included this year are a Massey Ferguson tractor, a 35th anniversary Commemorative Firearms set (No. 1 of 50), a “Spinnin’ in Vegas” bull riding bronze by Steve Miller, a photograph of Lane Frost’s last ride in Cheyenne (Wyo.) and a 35th anniversary Hall of Fame Commemorative Belt Buckle (No. 2 of 35).
All proceeds from the Gala benefit the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy in Colorado Springs.
Week’s Highlights, Sept. 22-28
- Brazile watch: Trevor Brazile had another big week to close out the season – $15,631 in four rodeos – as he finished the regular season with all-around earnings of $253,262, not far off his regular-season record of $268,334. By winning two rounds and finishing fourth in the steer roping average in Stephenville, Texas, on Sunday, Brazile moved past Chet Herren into first place in the Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings. That puts him first in the all-around (by nearly $95,000 over Tuf Cooper), first in the steer roping entering the Nov. 7-8 Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping in Mulvane, Kan., third in the tie-down roping and third among team roping headers. It puts him in position to join Jim Shoulders as the only cowboys ever to win three Triple Crowns (three gold buckles in a single year) and possibly even an unprecedented Grand Slam (four gold buckles).
- Tie-down roper Ryan Jarrett isn’t going to the WNFR this December, but he ended his 2014 season with an exclamation point on Sept. 27 in Omaha. Two nights after tying the arena record with a 6.8-second run and winning the Justin Boots Championships, Jarrett posted a time of 6.5 seconds to break the arena record and put himself in the record books. The time is tied for the second-fastest mark in ProRodeo history, along with Cody Ohl at the 2003 WNFR, and Clint Robinson in Amarillo, Texas, in 2004. Ricky Canton owns the world record with a 6.3-second run in Strathmore, Alberta, in 2005. While Jarrett had a weekend to remember, he still came up short in his bid for his ninth WNFR qualification, finishing 18th in the world.
- Josh Frost tied for second place in the bull riding at the Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo in Stephenville, Texas, to bump his season earnings to $46,329. That leaves him second on the all-time list among permit holders, just $1,398 back of the single-season record bull rider Sage Kimzey set a year ago. Frost is also second on the career earnings list for permit holders, $3,591 shy of tie-down roper Caleb Smidt’s record set in 2011-12.
News & Notes from the Rodeo Trail
Tickets for the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo on March 25-28, 2015 – the first RNCFR held at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Fla. – are available for purchase by calling 800.745.3000 or visiting RNCFR.com. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned rodeo will feature seven heart-pounding events over four action-packed days. Tickets range in price from $15 to $35.
Eugene Weakley, a National Finals Rodeo steer wrestler and PRCA gold card member, passed away Sept. 28 in Wichita Falls, Texas. He was 70. Weakley rodeoed for 30 years and also worked as a pickup man, PRCA judge and timed-event chute boss. He qualified for the 1971 NFR, and was inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in Fort Worth in 2012. Weakley won several major rodeos in his career, including the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days in 1969.
Bud Sankey, the father of Wrangler NFR cowboys Ike and Lyle Sankey, who raised PRCA bucking bulls and founded the Sankey Rodeo School, will be inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame on Oct. 11. Sankey, who invented the Sankey Twister – one of the first mechanical bulls, is one of five members entering the Hall. The ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. at the Hoover Pavillion in Wright Park, Kan., and reservations must be made by Oct. 5. Tickets can be purchased by calling 620.227.8188.
The 12th annual Rough-N-Ready Rodeo – an event for children with disabilities – took place Sept. 26 in Omaha, Neb. The event, which was sponsored by the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation, featured rodeo athletes and queens who assisted the young participants. “Every year, the volunteers come up and talk about how much they enjoyed it,” said Mandy Taylor, chairwoman of the Rough-N-Ready Rodeo Committee. The children raced on stick horses, roped a dummy calf, rode a dummy bucking “horse,” took horseback rides, got their faces painted and enjoyed interacting with clowns.
Long-time PRCA bullfighter Loyd Ketchum retired at the Bowman (N.D.) County Pro Rodeo last weekend after 27 years in ProRodeo that included the 1991 Wrangler World Champion Bullfighter title. PRCA stock contractor Sparky Dreesen said, “After we moved to Montana in 1995, Loyd was the first guy I called to help us when we started putting on rodeos there, because of his attitude – he’s a winner. He does the best he can at all of the things that need to be done, whether it’s setting the flank on a bucking horse or fighting bulls. What you see is what you get with Loyd. He’s not only one of the greatest bullfighters ever, he’s one of the greatest individuals ever.”
Bull rider Jay Morrow, the Great Lakes Circuit champion in 2006 and 2008, is featured in the Discovery Channel’s newest take on survival, the reality series “Tethered,” which premieres at 10 p.m. (ET) Oct. 5. The show tests the ability of contestants to survive in some of the most extreme environments on the planet – from Alaska to Panama – while being bound to a partner by a six-foot steeltether. Morrow, of Wayland, Iowa, and a PRCA member since 2004, described himself to the show’s producers as “an adrenaline junkie who never takes his cowboy hat off,” and he is paired with a bookish intellectual named Matt. A 2004 graduate of Missouri Valley College (Marshall, Mo.) with a degree in business management and marketing, Morrow has thousands of followers on social media and has done some modeling for a number of organizations, including Subway and Osage Casino. “I’ve grown up riding bulls, hunting and fishing,” Morrow said, “any extreme, outdoor sports I can find. So, this was another opportunity to check my fortitude, willpower and self-preservation, plus challenge myself as an outdoorsman.”
Bull rider Jason Power, a native of Franklinville, N.J., who won the First Frontier year-end title in 2004 and 2009 and the RAM First Frontier Circuit Finals Rodeo in 2003, will retire this year at the conclusion of the circuit finals in Gettysburg, Pa. Power, 35, closed out his final regular season in the PRCA as champion of the Cowtown Rodeo series in Woodstown Pilesgrove, N.J. He was joined on the list of series champions by bareback rider Andy Carter, steer wrestler A.J. Williams, team ropers Dave Ballantyne and T.R. Serio, saddle bronc rider Matt Bartsch and tie-down roper J.R. Myers.
Representatives from several local government entities in St. George, Utah, are working on a plan that could potentially save the historic Dixie Sun Bowl from demolition. Cracked and aging, and in need of an estimated $2 million in renovations, the 66-year-old arena appeared to be on the brink in recent years. “The details still need to be worked out,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike said. “It hasn’t been approved by anyone. But we think we’ve found a way to work something out.” The Sun Bowl’s signature annual event, the three-day Dixie Roundup Rodeo, drew an estimated 17,000 spectators two weeks ago.
Author Gail Woerner will present “Western Women Who Dared to be Different” at the Estes Park (Colo.) Museum on Oct. 1 at 3 p.m. Woerner is the author of a book of the same title and five others on rodeo history. In this program, she will share how she came to research and write the books on the history of the West, especially rodeo. It is a free program, and no reservations are required.
2014 World Standings Leaders
||Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas
||Kaycee Feild, Spanish Fork, Utah
||Trevor Knowles, Mount Vernon, Ore.
||Clay Tryan, Billings, Mont.
||Jade Corkill, Fallon, Nev.
||Taos Muncy, Corona, N.M.
||Tuf Cooper, Decatur, Texas
||Sage Kimzey, Strong City, Okla.
||Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas
*2014 Barrel Racing (through Sept. 29, 2014)
Barrel racing standings, provided by the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA), are unofficial, subject to audit and may change. Unofficial WPRA Standings are published by the PRCA as a courtesy. The PRCA is not responsible for the verification or updating of WPRA standings.
||Kaley Bass, Kissimmee, Fla.
||Fallon Taylor, Whitesboro, Texas
||Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D.
||Nancy Hunter, Neola, Utah
||Britany Diaz, Solen, N.D.
||Michele McLeod, Whitesboro, Texas
||Mary Walker, Ennis, Texas
||Christine Laughlin, Pueblo, Colo.
||Sherry Cervi, Marana, Ariz.
||Kassidy Dennison, Roosevelt, Utah
||Christy Loflin, Franktown, Colo.
||Carlee Pierce, Stephenville, Texas
||Trula Churchill, Valentine, Neb.
||Samantha Lyne, Cotulla, Texas
||Jana Bean, Ft. Hancock, Texas
||Brenda Mays, Terrebonne, Ore.
||Shelley Morgan, Eustace, Texas
||Ann Scott, Canyon Country, Calif.
||Sarah Rose McDonald, Brunswick, Ga.
||Kimmie Wall, Roosevelt, Utah