The Road to Vegas is the opening act, with the introduction of the PRCA’s regular-season champions. The national anthem will be performed by country music singer Mark Wills. Pendleton Whisky 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,Kadee Coffman handling arena-side interviews and Suzanne Alexander the pre-game show from the ProRodeo FanZone. Live HD coverage will be broadcast in Canada through CBS Sports Net carriers Rogers, Bell Aliant, Cogeco, SaskTel, Canadian Cable Systems and Ontario Inc. ProRodeo Live is airing coverage on a network of radio stations, including Rural Radio, and also online at www.prorodeolive.com with Steve Kenyon, Wade Wheatley, Freya Ford Walton and Jolee Lautaret-Jordan doing the announcing.
THE BRAZILE WATCH
Trevor Brazile got his record 20th world title at the Nov. 7-8 Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping in Mulvane, Kan., and can tie the record held by Jim Shoulders (1956-58) of winning three Triple Crowns – three gold buckles in a single season – if he can win the all-around and the team roping, with partner Travis Graves; he 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. Brazile has a lead of $144,582 over Tuf Cooper in the AA entering this rodeo and is third in the team roping standings. His season earnings of $303,119 places him 11th on the all-time list with 10 days of competition in team roping and tie-down roping still ahead of him (he already holds the first seven spots on the single-season earnings list and nine of the top 12). If he wins the all-around championship it will be his eighth in a row, moving him into a tie for second on the list of most consecutive world titles with the team roping pair of Speed Williams and Rich Skelton, trailing only Guy Allen (11 straight in steer roping, 1991-2001).
BY THE NUMBERS
Oklahoma bull rider Brennon Eldred (11/5/94) is the youngest of the four 20 year-olds in this year’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo field, ahead of Sage Kimzey (8/26/94), Marty Yates (7/6/94) and Ty Wallace (2/2/94). The oldest contestant? That would be Jakes Barnes at 55 (4/4/59), two years older than Clay O’Brien Cooper and seven years senior to Rich Skelton … Texas has once again provided the most contestants for the Wrangler NFR with 34 – or more than the next three states (Utah 10, Oklahoma 9 and Arizona 8) combined. There are 26 states, one Canadian province and Brazil represented in the field.
Stace Smith Pro Rodeos was honored as the PRCA Stock Contracting Firm of the Year for a record 11th consecutive time and tied the overall record set by Harry Vold Rodeo (1982, 1987-96) during the PRCA Awards Banquet, Dec. 3 at the South Point Hotel, Spa & Casino. The other year-end awards went to Wayne Brooks (announcer), Dusty Tuckness (bullfighter), Haley Schneeberger(secretary), Justin Rumford (clown), John Harrison (Coors Man in the Can and comedy act), Amanda and John Payne (dress act), Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo of Claremore, Okla. (small rodeo), Deadwood (S.D.) Days of ’76 (medium rodeo), Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days (large rodeo), San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo (large indoor), J Bar J and Hermiston, Ore. (remuda), Larry Smith (photography), Sam Eifling (print journalism), Dan Miller (broadcast) and Bill Stephens (Justin Standard of the West Committee Person of the Year).
ROUND 1 MATCHUPS TO PONDER
Kaycee Feild begins pursuit of his fourth consecutive bareback riding world championship tonight on a horse – Sutton Rodeo’s Cactus Juice – that Joe Gunderson rode for 85 points and the win at the First Chance Bonanza last month in Brookings, S.D. Based on track record, you’d have to give Winn Ratliff a shot at living up to his name tonight. He’s drawn Growney Brothers’ Raggidy Ann, who took Jessy Davis to a win in Round 4 last year. Steven Dent gets Starburst, who carried Ratliff to the win in Round 6 two years ago … Jake Wright won Round 1 of the saddle bronc riding a year ago with an 84-point ride on Korkow Rodeos’ Wiggle Worm and this time around Heith DeMoss draws that horse. The favorite tonight, however, might just be Wade Sundell. He’s drawn Rounder of the Four Star Rodeo string, the horse Cort Scheer rode for 91 points to win the Pendleton (Ore.) Round-Up in September … Premier matchup of the night is in the bull riding, where world standings leader Sage Kimzey draws PRCA Bull of the Year Cross the Wyoming Line of Summit Pro Rodeo for the last out of the night. Kimzey may have a high bar to shoot for, as Tyler Smith has drawn Growney Brothers’ Crystal Deal and Joe Frost matches up with Pete Carr’s Rattler. Over the last three years, Crystal Deal has only been ridden three times in 26 outs (scores of 91, 92 and 93); at the last WNFR, Crystal Deal was voted the top bull in both the third and eighth rounds.
NEWS & NOTES
With first-place round money of $19,002, it is mathematically possible for there to be four changes at the top of the world standings tonight. The team roping pairs of Erich Rogers/Cory Petska and Trevor Brazile/Travis Graves are both less than $9,000 behind leaders Clay Tryan/Jade Corkill. Two-time World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider Cody Wright is $15,794 behind Taos Muncy in first place and bull rider Trey Benton III could take the lead with a win and a buck-off from leader Sage Kimzey. The most wide-open race of the bunch? That would be steer wrestling where four men enter tonight’s round with a chance to surpass regular-season leader Trevor Knowles – K.C. Jones (-$9,749), Casey Martin (-$11,526), Nick Guy (-$14,050) and Clayton Hass (-$15,228) … Tie-down roper Cody Ohl needs three round wins here this year to break the record set by saddle bronc rider Billy Etbauer for most round wins in a single event (51). Sherry Cervi needs three wins to break the barrel racing event record of 25 round wins, held by Charmayne James … Four-time World Champion Bareback Rider Bobby Mote is just $39,458 away from becoming the sixth man to earn $1 million in WNFR competition, following Brazile, Ohl, Etbauer, Fred Whitfield and Joe Beaver. Rich Skelton, the eight-time world champion heeler, is just $48,777 shy of reaching seven figures, and four-time World Champion Steer Wrestler Luke Branquinho is within $88,705.
Record times and scores for the 1ST round of the WNFR:
Bareback riding: 89 points, Kaycee Feild, 2011; Wes Stevenson, 2006
Steer wrestling: 3.1 seconds, Trevor Knowles, 2013
Team roping: 4.1 seconds, Speed Williams/Rich Skelton, 1997; Matt Sherwood/Cory Petska, 2011
Saddle bronc riding: 89 points, Bryce Miller, 2008
Tie-down roping: 6.9 seconds, Cody Ohl, 2004
Barrel racing: 13.75 seconds, Mary Walker, 2012
Bull riding: 94 points, Don Gay, 1974; Blue Stone, 2001
Courtesy of PRCA