Charlie Daniels is the opening act and the national anthem will be performed by Samantha Dawn Shoenthaler. RAM Rodeo is the performance sponsor.
WRANGLER NFR LIVE ON TELEVISION, RADIO AND INTERNET
Tonight’s Wrangler NFR will be televised live and in HD on CBS Sports Net (DISH Network channel 158 and DirecTV channel 221) from 7-10 p.m. (PT) with Jeff Medders and Butch Knowles announcing, Joe Beaver and Don Gay providing commentary. Live HD coverage will be broadcast in Canada through various CBS SN carriers and ProRodeo Live is airing coverage on a network of radio stations, including Rural Radio, and also online at www.prorodeolive.com with Steve Kenyon the lead announcer.
THE BRAZILE WATCH
Having safely put away his second gold buckle of the season on Saturday, Dec. 6 – the record 12th all-around title to go with his earlier steer roping crown – Trevor Brazile is now taking steady aim at a Triple Crown. On Thursday night he became the first competitor since Jesse Bailin 2001 (bull riding and saddle bronc riding) to win a round in two events on the same night (it has been done just 11 times in the 56 years of the WNFR). The team roping win moved Brazile and partner Travis Graves into second place in the world standings (just $660 behind leaders Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill) with two nights to go. Brazile/Graves are third in the average standings behind Tryan/Corkill and Jake Barnes/Junior Nogueira. Tryan/Corkill is the only pair to have eight qualified runs, but even if they end up going 10 for 10 and winning the average, it is possible for Brazile/Graves to earn the world championship by finishing enough ahead of them in Rounds 9 and 10 to make the difference in the average payout rendered insignificant. If Tryan/Corkill miss either night, well, then the race really opens up. After tying Matt Shiozawa in the tie-down roping competition in a Round 8 record time of 6.8 seconds, Brazile is third in the world and third in the average. To have a chance at the gold buckle in that event (and a chance at a Grand Slam) he is going to have to catch a break or two. Tuf Cooper and Shiozawa, the two guys ahead of him in the world standings are also leading the average standings. Brazile’s total earnings of $421,271 is fourth on the all-time single-season list (he’s accounted for the top eight totals), with two nights of competition and the average checks still to be distributed. If he were to hold on to his pair of third-place average spots, he would be assured of earnings of $483,795, which means he would only need $24,127 in round money over the next two nights to break his own single-season earnings record of $507,921 (2010). That’s roughly one second-place finish parlayed with a third. The two wins Thursday extended Brazile’s career record for total round wins at the WNFR to 59. If Brazile can claim either the team roping or tie-down roping title he will equal Jim Shoulders’ record of three Triple Crowns (1956-58). Brazile previously won the Triple Crown in 2007 (AA, SR, TD) and 2010 (AA, TR, TD); if he were to win the Triple Crown with AA, SR and TR, it would be his third different combination.
AND THEN THERE WERE TWO
Sage Kimzey of Strong City, Okla., put the capper on a storybook season Thursday night by becoming the second world champion crowned at this 56th Wrangler NFR. A third-place finish in Round 8 allowed him to join Bill Kornell (1963) as the only rookie bull riders ever to earn a gold buckle and he has utterly destroyed Steve Woolsey’s rookie earnings records for a single event ($197,646) and overall ($202,128). Kimzey’s total stands at $250,897 with two rounds and average checks still pending. He is leading the average with 583.5 points on seven head, the only rider to cover seven of eight, indeed the only guy to ride more than five. If he has qualified rides tonight and tomorrow night, he will become the first bull rider since Adriano Moraes in 1996 to cover nine of 10 and the bull riding single-season earnings record ($320,766 by Matt Austin in 2005) is a mathematical possibility. Kimzey’s lead in the RAM Top Gun Award standings (highest WNFR earnings in a single event) stands at $20,381 over barrel racer Fallon Taylor.
ROUND 9 MATCHUPS TO PONDER
As bareback rider Kaycee Feild attempts to secure his fourth consecutive gold buckle, he draws J Bar J’s Dirty Rags – a horse he rode for 87 points in Fort Worth, Texas, last February. The only man chasing Feild with a chance to overtake him for the world title is Austin Foss, who will take on Burch Rodeo’s Hell’s Canyon … With the saddle bronc riding race heating up, there are still several men who can win the gold buckle. Heith DeMoss will need another big effort tonight if he wants to be the world champ, and he draws Big Bend Rodeo’s Crash Gate. The horse carried Cort Scheer to a sixth-place check in Round 4. Scheer is aboard Rafter G Rodeo’s Billings – the horse that bucked DeMoss off in the fourth round. Spencer Wright, the man leading the average, draws Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Pony Man – the horse who bucked off Wright’s brother, Jake, in Round 4 … Bull rider Sage Kimzey, already the world champion, can clinch the average title tonight with a qualified ride on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Foolish Man. Jordan Spears, who won Round 8, will take on PRCA Bull of the Year Cross the Wyoming Line. The Summit Pro Rodeo bull is unridden in 22 career outs, and is the only bull to buck off Kimzey here.
NEWS & NOTES
For the third consecutive night, there was a change at the top of the saddle bronc riding world standings Thursday when Heith DeMoss broke through to win Round 8 with an 84-point ride on Cervi Championship Rodeo’s Vitalix Hell’s Fire Hostage. That allowed him to leapfrog Cort Scheer of Elsmere, Neb., by a margin of $7,784. Taos Muncy, who had held the world standings lead since June 2, was knocked out of the top spot on Tuesday night by DeMoss and he was, in turn, replaced at the top by Scheer on Wednesday. Scheer, bidding to become the first Nebraska cowboy to win a saddle bronc riding gold buckle, is second in the average behind Spencer Wright (nobody else has ridden all eight nights) and is projected to become the winner on Saturday night; DeMoss is eighth in the average … Two-time World Champion Cody Wright suffered a dislocated left (riding) shoulder on Wednesday, and had to doctor release Rounds 8 and 9 … Having now earned checks in six of eight rounds, Luke Branquinho is well on his way to a fifth world title (only Homer Pettigrew, with six, has more). He holds a lead of just $4,224 over Trevor Knowles, but is leading the average with a time of 32.7 on eight head while Knowles is 11th in the average (out of the money) … With his tie for third in Round 7, Branquinho is within $16,068 of becoming the eighth person to earn $1 million in WNFR competition, joining Brazile, Cody Ohl, Billy Etbauer, Sherry Cervi, Fred Whitfield, Joe Beaver and Bobby Mote (who joined that elite group earlier this week).
Record times and scores for the 9th round of the WNFR:
Bareback riding: 90 points, Rowdy Buechner, 2005
Steer wrestling: 3.2 seconds, Cash Myers, 2001; Derek Daye, 1993; Luke Branquinho, 2007
Team roping: 3.3 seconds, Chad Masters/Jade Corkill, 2009 (also arena and world record)
Saddle bronc riding: 92 points, Dan Mortensen, 1996
Tie-down roping: 6.7 seconds, Tuf Cooper, 2008
Barrel racing: 13.53 seconds, Lindsay Sears, 2008
Bull riding: 95.5 points, Zack Brown, 2003
Courtesy of PRCA