Wrangler National Finals Rodeo: Round 3

AQHA member Trevor Brazile earns his 21st gold buckle December 6 in Las Vegas.

Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association

Trevor Brazile doubled down on his gold buckle count for the season when he hit No. 21 by clinching the all-around world championship Saturday night at the 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo before a sold-out crowd of 17,858 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The King of the Cowboys has won a record 12 all-around titles, and an unprecedented nine straight.

“This is awesome,” Brazile said. “Every time that number gets bigger, it gets harder to believe. I never expected anything like this, so it almost doesn’t seem real.”

Brazile has earned $361,046 during the 2014 season. That’s $197,605 more than AQHA member Tuf Cooper, who is second in the all-around standings.

The incomparable Brazile won the steer roping gold buckle November 8 and sits second in both team roping and tie-down roping, so he has a chance to win two more gold buckles.

“What makes it extra exciting is the chance at another Triple Crown,” said the Decatur, Texas, cowboy. “After tonight, one more (gold buckle) will complete it. So getting this one done gives me some piece of mind. I never take winning championships for granted.”

Brazile claimed Triple Crowns – three world titles in one season – in 2007 and 2010. A third Triple Crown would equal the record set by ProRodeo Hall of Famer Jim Shoulders (1956-58), who always accomplished the feat in the same three events: all-around, bull riding and bareback riding. If Brazile wins the team roping title for a third Triple Crown, he will have done it with three different combinations of events.

No cowboy has ever achieved a Grand Slam – winning four gold buckles in one season.

“I think they (world titles) mean more to me the older I get,” said Brazile, who turned 38 last month. “It seems like my competition gets younger every year. That’s why I keep enjoying it more. At some point, there’s going to be a changing of the guard. So every gold buckle means more as time marches on.”

Brazile, a team roping header, and partner Travis Graves were second in Round 3 with a time of 4.0 seconds, just .1 behind round winners Dustin Bird and Paul Eaves.

Ever the perfectionist, Brazile said, “I was really disappointed with my execution in the team roping (Friday) night, but I’m looking forward and taking every calf and every steer for what he is. I'm just going to keep doing my best every night.”

Brazile finished fourth in Round 3 tie-down roping with a time of 7.4 seconds.

Brazile is $17,823 behind team roping header leader Clay Tryan. He’s $26,873 behind tie-down roping leader Cooper, who is his brother-in-law.

Team Roping

Dustin Bird and Paul Eaves claimed the team roping win, and both sit third in the Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings.

“We decided not to be more conservative, but to try to be a little more consistent,” Eaves said. “I want to make sure I catch ’em all. I don’t have to worry about Dustin, so I just have to focus on doing my job, which keeps my hands full. That run was what we’ve been practicing. We’re going to keep trying to make the same runs without doing anything crazy. There are a lot of steers left, and there’s a lot of money to be won. So I don’t want to get too excited about tonight. It’d be nice to win something in the average, too, but this is a good start right here.”

Bird rode a different horse, using fellow WNFR header Kaleb Driggers’ "Fast Time." Bird rode his own horse, "Dolly," in the first two rounds.

“I wasn’t having very good rhythm with my mare (Dolly) – she was getting a little too excited, and I broke the barrier last night – so I decided to try something different,” Bird said. “Kaleb’s horse gives you a lot of time, so you don’t have to get in a rush all the time.

“I want to catch every steer as fast as I can, but I don’t want to miss. Fast Time’s a horse you can catch a lot of steers on, because he doesn’t get quick. That was the first steer I ever ran on that horse. I’ll be back on him tomorrow.”

Steer Wrestling

Kyle Irwin won Round 3 in steer wrestling after sharing the win last night and earning a fifth-place check on opening night. He leads the average with 10.9 seconds on three steers, and moved into third place in the world standings, just $12,348 behind leader Nick Guy.

“It’s a little bit surreal,” said the Robertsdale, Alabama, cowboy, who earned $19,002 with the Round 3 win. “I also don’t mean this (to sound) arrogantly, but I always knew if I got here, I would at least try and win first every night. I’m going to try and go as fast as I can with the opportunity I have and the steers that I have. Hopefully, I will make no mistakes and the rest will take care of itself.”

Irwin, who is making his Finals debut, is just the second steer wrestler from Alabama to qualify for the WNFR, after Victor Deck (1996-97), who tied for one round win.

Irwin just missed breaking the Round 3 steer wrestling record at the WNFR. The late Ricky Huddleston holds that mark with a 3.1-second time in 1985. Steve Duhon (1986) and Bryan Fields (2001) share the WNFR record at 3.0 seconds.

Irwin was riding "Sketch," a horse owned by Tyler Pearson, and gave much of the credit to the horse.

“He got me the win at the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo (in Guthrie, Oklahoma),” Irwin said. “I’ve been riding that horse since October of 2013 and I sure like him.”

RAM Top Gun Award

Bareback rider Justin McDaniel leads the RAM Top Gun Award standings, which recognizes the contestant who wins the most money in a single event at the WNFR. He has $45,463, while steer wrestler Luke Branquinho is second with $41,529 and Irwin is third with $40,916. Brazile is tied for fourth at $38,005 with team roping partners Turtle Powell and Dakota Kirchenschlager.

Tie-Down Roping

Five-time world champion tie-down roper Cody Ohl broke his own round record when he won in 6.6 seconds, 0.1 faster than the mark he set a year ago.

“I knew I was fast, and it’s funny to say, but I could’ve broke the arena record right there,” said the AQHA member. “I was already like a quarter of a way to the calf and I didn’t think there was any way I got out. I kind of had a little hitch there when I flanked him, but my mind was like, ‘Man, I broke the barrier. I broke the barrier.’ Then I throw my hands up and I’m looking at the judge and he’s holding the barrier up there and it’s not broke. I thought, ‘Are you kidding me?’”

Ohl’s victory was especially satisfying, since it came one night after his rope broke in Round 2, which led to a no-time.

“Everybody was like, ‘Oh man,’ and it was (just) the second round and this thing had not even started yet,” Ohl said. “There were eight more go-rounds at $19,000. My confidence and attitude hadn’t changed one ounce since (Friday), and that’s what it takes to move on, and then come back and bounce back, like I did tonight.” 

Ohl set the arena record of 6.5 seconds in 2003’s Round 10, and he owns six of the 10 round records. He has 10 rounds of less than 7 seconds. He’s won 50 rounds at the Finals in tie-down roping, also a record. Ohl has a total of 53 career round wins, counting three at the National Finals Steer Roping, which is three shy of Brazile’s overall record of 57.

Barrel Racing

AQHA member Kassidy Dennison won the barrel racing with a time of 13.94 seconds and sits fourth in the world. Fallon Taylor, who won Round 1, took over the lead in the barrel racing world standings when she earned a check for third place.

“I am so excited I can hardly speak,” said Dennison, who is competing at her first Finals. “I can hardly believe it. It is so exciting having so many of my family here with me to share this victory.”

Visit www.prorodeo.com for full results from Round 3, plus coverage of the roughstock events.

The 56th annual Wrangler NFR continues Sunday with the fourth round at the Thomas & Mack Center. The action will be televised live and in HD on CBS Sports Net (DirecTV channel 221 and DISH Network channel 158) from 7-10 p.m. (PT) with Jeff Medders and Butch Knowles announcing.

WNFR Coverage on www.aqha.com/showing

  • Round 10 – Competing in timed events at the 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, AQHA members claim world championships in Las Vegas.
  • Round 9 – These AQHA members are poised for Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world championships heading into the final round.
  • Round 8 – Winning both tie-down and team roping, AQHA member Trevor Brazile, the King of the Cowboys, reigns yet again.
  • Round 7 – AQHA members Cody Ohl and Tuf Cooper share the Round 7 tie-down roping title in Las Vegas.
  • Round 6 – AQHA members keep their ProRodeo world championship hopes alive December 9 in Las Vegas.
  • Round 5 – Stock of AQHA Professional Horsemen Charlie Cole, Jason Martin and Tom and Leslie Lange strike it big December 8 in Las Vegas.
  • Round 4 – AQHA members, including Fallon Taylor and "BabyFlo," showed their mettle December 7 at rodeo's Super Bowl in Las Vegas.
  • Round 3 – AQHA member Trevor Brazile earns his 21st gold buckle December 6 in Las Vegas.
  • Round 2 – AQHA members Turtle Powell and Dakota Kirchenschlager set a team-roping record for the round December 5 in Las Vegas.
  • Round 1 – American Quarter Horses take their riders to the top of Round 1 of rodeo's Super Bowl December 4 in Las Vegas.
  • 2014 AQHA-PRCA Horses of the Year