King of the Cowboys Trevor Brazile of Texas Wins All Around title
At the 109th Pendleton Round-Up, extends lead over Yakima Canutt
Pendleton, Oregon, Sept. 14—Trevor Brazile might be excused for failing to excel as he once did. He’s been nominated the King of Cowboys for his phenomenal rodeo career—he has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the world series of rodeo, 31 times and has titles there 24 times, far beyond other competitors. But here he came again, on Saturday, the final day of the 109th Pendleton Round-Up to capture the All Around title for the seventh time, thus further eclipsing the record of Yakima Canutt set in 1923.
Canutt, born in November, 1895, went on to a stellar movie career after beginning as a cowboy and rodeo star. He first won the Round-Up All Around title 102 years ago, in 1917, when he was 21. And he set the record in 1923 with his fifth Round-Up All Around title when he was 27. And Trevor Brazile? He’s 42.
But there was Brazile for the 7th time on Saturday, racing around the arena track on his horse after picking up his prize money, championship saddle and silver buckle and all the other swag that the Pendleton Round-Up awards to its champions. Maybe Brazile will wander down to Hollywood, where he can find Yakima in the Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame as well as on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
After his victory Brazile was grateful for his seventh All-Around title and his admission to the Round-Up Hall of Fame.
“I want to thank Pendleton for sure for honoring me with the hall of fame and the fans are awesome. This rodeo’s special, just the way they rodeo here in Pendleton. I just love it. The prizes are, you can’t say enough. No other rodeo you go to rewards you like this one.”
Analyzing the events that led to his award, Brazile said of the tie-down, “the calf kinda was just a little bit bony, he was scramblin’. In the steer roping the steer ran hard and as soon as I threw he ducked to the right and caught by the right leg and I was able to get it fished out, I never been able to get it out before, and I got it fished out and get him tripped.”
Whereas Yakima Canutt was a saddle bronc and bulldogging competitor, Brazile has remained a roper throughout his career, where even rodeo tends toward specialization. As a roper he’s done exceedingly well, particularly since longevity tends to favor ropers more than it does those who ride rough stock, the bucking side of rodeo.
After returning from World War I, Canutt begin his Hollywood career in 1920 and went on to perform in nearly 350 movies over 50 years. He died in 1986.
In 2008 Brazile became the first competitor in the history of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association to earn more than $3 million in competition. More recently he became the first to pass $6 million. In June of last year Smithsonian magazine featured Brazile and his rodeo competitor wife, Shada, in an article titled the First Family of Rodeo. The article described him thus, “His name is Trevor Brazile. He is a modest man of 41, a prodigy in autumn, with boyish dimples, an eroding jawline, the compact physique of a hockey player, 5-5oot-10 in his roomy, square-toed cowboy boots.”
At the end of 2018 Brazile announced he was cutting back on his rodeo schedule to spend more time with his family. He no longer competes enough to appear in the standings, nor to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Instead, he said he would appear at a few of his favorite rodeos this year, one of which is the Pendleton Round-Up.
Brazile competes in all three roping events, steer roping, team roping, and calf roping and excels at all of them.
Today Yakima Canutt and Trevor Brazile share a membership in the Rodeo Hall of Fame and the Round-Up Hall of Fame.
The crowd in Pendleton was thrilled when two ropers from the area took the team roping title and Jessie Brown from nearby Baker City, Oregon, won the steer wrestling event while setting a record for the Round-Up’s fastest time ever in his event.
Jason Stewart, Heppner, OR and Calgary Smith, Adams, OR, captured the team roping first place with a time of 4.8 seconds on Saturday and a combined time of 17.1 seconds in three days of roping at the rodeo. Neither of the ropers appears in the top 50 in the PRCA world standings so won’t be qualifying for this year’s WNFR but Stewart is ranked 11th in the Columbia River circuit of the PRCA for headers, while Smith is 7th. They had to overcome tough competition Saturday from ropers such as Clay Smith, Broken Bow, OK, ranked #1 in the PRCA world standings for headers and his partner, heeler Jade Corkill, Fallon, NV, currently 5th in the world standings.
Stewart qualified twice for the WNFR but then went home at 27, in the prime of a career.
“It was during the rodeo in Sheridan, Wyoming, and I was sitting at the Mint Bar eating lunch with Tyler Magnus when she called and said ‘I’m pregnant,” said Stewart in a story in the Team Roping Journal. He had headed for Kyle Lockett at the 1998 NFR and for Buck Campbell at the 2000 NFR, and had just started roping with Patrick Smith. “I’d made my wife a promise that I’d be home when we had kids. So, I finished out that year, and kept my word.”
Stewart had actually already won a title at the Pendleton Round-up. In 2003 he was the steer roping champion with an average time of 13.4.
Now Stewart is back in the game and watching with pride as sons Jett, Tripp and Truu, begin to mature, with Jett already pursuing a team roping title. Jett competed in the Junior National Finals Rodeo last December, where he placed third in team roping and 4th in #10 roping.
Stewart ranches from a spread near Heppner.
Describing his run on Saturday, Stewart said “we were blessed with a great steer, we’d run him once. He was by far the best steer in the pen. This fellow,” said Stewart, referring to Smith, his partner, “I’ve known him since he was a baby. He’s been wanting to win a pro rodeo—he’s still on his permit—and I’ve been telling him all year that we’re close and now we win Pendleton. I came to college here in 1994 and kinda never left. I won the steer roping in 2003. And made the short round a few times in team roping and steer roping.”
“It means everything to me,” added Smith. “I just lost my grandpa this year and this is the first Round-Up without him. I’ve known Jason forever and he’s been a huge blessing in my life. We’ve been close all year and to win here means all the world.”
Brown, from nearby Baker City, OR, tackled his steer in a time of 3.7 seconds to top the record of 3.8 for the Round-Up set in 2002 by K.C. Jones and tied in 2014 by Casey Martin. Brown’s average over three days of bulldogging at this year’s Round-Up was 14.8 seconds.
“The atmosphere in here is awesome,” said Brown. “Blake let me ride his good horse, Smoke. Just had to execute and it worked out real well. I love the grass here, this is one of my favorite rodeos. I’ve had a bunch of guys who have been here a long time who have helped me out along the way. You always dream of this, being an Oregon boy, if you could pick one rodeo in the world to win, I’d pick this one.”
Brown is #1 in the Columbia River Circuit standings and #31 in the PRCA world standings for the event. He won the circuit’s finals rodeo in January which put him on the road to the National Circuit Finals Rodeo in March in Kissimmee, FL, a state he had never previously visited. The 27-year-old Brown credits Blake Knowles, one of the local area’s better known PRCA rodeo competitors, and his cousin, Trevor Knowles, with teaching Brown how to steer wrestle. Based on his recent successes Brown is now targeting a trip to the WNFR someday soon.
Here’s how it went over the eight events at the Round-Up finals on Saturday:
Tilden Hooper, Carthage, TX, won the bareback title at the 109th Pendleton Round-Up with a score of 174 in two events, one of 109 Texans competing at this year’s Pendleton Round-Up. The 31-year-old, who turned pro in 2006, has appeared at the WNFR five times, as recently as last year. Given his #5 spot in the PRCA world standings Hooper should be in Las Vegas again this December. He has won over $125,000 this year on the PRCA circuit. He has ridden in bareback competitions since 15 and in 2007 went on to win both the College National Finals Rodeo Bareback Riding championship and the PRCA bareback rookie of the year award.
“This is awesome, a bucket list rodeo,” said Hooper after his victory. “I’m so excited I don’t know what to say. I’m going to have to get a trailer to take all that stuff home. I like bucking horses better than riding horses. I was a little nervous about that. (Referring to his victory lap around the arena.) It’s been the best year of my life and I’ve been extremely blessed and it’s been so fun . . . I’ve had my wife with me a lot this year, we made a lot of memories and I just can’t wait to get to Vegas.”
One point back and just missing out on a second straight victory was Canadian Orin Larsen, the 2018 bareback champion at the Round-Up, with a score of 174. Most recently the 28-year-old from Inglis, MB won the rodeo in nearby Canby, Oregon. He is ranked third in the PRCA’s world standings for the event, which means he is a definite for the WNFR in December. His older brother is a saddle bronc rider and a younger brother rides bulls.
This month’s Western Horsemanmagazine features Larson as the “Manitoba to Nevada” man, referring to his upcoming trip to the WNFR in Las Vegas. The article noted that he has a bull riding and a bronc riding brother--a family of rodeoers from Manitoba that “rode anything with four legs” as boys. Larsen also made the point in the article that, “Anytime I can represent my country on a big stage, I’m proud to do it. I still want to qualify for the Canadian National Finals Rodeo every year, so I make sure that I get enough rodeos up there to qualify.”
Third place at the Round-Up was captured by Caleb Bennett, who just beat out the 2018 WNFR champion in this event, Tim O’Connell, with a score of 171 to O’Connell’s 170.5.
Bennett, 30, has qualified seven times for the WNFR but has yet to win a title there. He finished 6th in the world standings last year and currently stands 6th, a sure qualifier for his 8th WNFR and perhaps a world title. In his 12-year PRCA career he has won nearly $1.3 million, including over $100,000 this year.
Riley Pruitt, Gering, NE, topped the most famous man in rodeo, Trevor Brazile—this year’s All Around Cowboy Award winner at the Round-Up—to capture the title in tie-down roping. Pruitt also took the title here in 2014 with an aggregate time of 28.8, 0.4 seconds slower than his achievement five years later. Pruit’s aggregate time over three days of roping was 28.4 seconds to top Brazile at 31.3. In third was Bo Pickett, Caldwell, ID, with a time of 32.2 over three days.
“I love this arena,” Pruitt said. My horse likes it and I like it. Today I was lucky when that calf turned back on me. It’s a huge win, it’s got me into the finals. I was 14th, I think I had enough to make it but at the same time I needed the win.”
Pruitt is 14th in the world standings with over $80,000 in winnings this year, just inside the cutoff for the WNFR at #15 so he should be in Las Vegas in December. Since entering the ranks of the PRCA in 2010 he has won over $500,000. The 27-year-old Nebraskan qualified for the WNFR once, in 2016, and finished in 23rd place in last year’s world standings so things are definitely looking up for him. His dad, Troy, was the 1990 tie-down roping world champion and an eight-time WNFR qualifier so the younger Pruitt has plenty of inspiration.
Brazile had an aggregate time over three days of 31.3 seconds.
In third place was Bo Pickett, Caldwell, ID, at 32.2. Pickett is 42 in the world standings so will not be at the WNFR in December. He also finds inspiration in his two-time world champion uncle, Dee Pickett, a member of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
In an article in the Idaho Statesman, the younger Pickett, 22, said his uncle’s first advice was “Don’t do it. You’re gonna be broke. You’re not gonna be very happy.” But, said Bo, “. . .when it’s in your blood, you’ve got to do it.”
The article continued, “While his parents weren’t initially thrilled that Bo wanted to pursue a full-time rodeo career, they have been nothing but supportive. Rich and Rhonda Pickett helped Bo build an arena at their home, and Rich even got back into rodeo because of his son’s enthusiasm. The father-son duo team rope together occasionally.”
Colt Gordon, took first in the saddle bronc riding competition on Saturday with an aggregate of 175 points in two events. Although his bio says he started competing when he was five or six years old, Gordon is in only his fourth year of professional rodeo competition, with career earnings somewhere over $75,000 as of last year. The 22-year-old from Comanche, OK, finished 2018 in 21st place in the PRCA world standings and is in 16th place this year with over $78,000 in earnings for the year, less than $4,000 from current 15th place holder JJ Elshere. Fifteen is the cutoff for qualification for the WNFR.
“It’s a dream come true” said Gordon of his victory. “I came here last year, won the first round. It’s made everything so much better. Been working to get to the finals and it’s helped me there. I love this rodeo. First horse, Strawberry Rocket, a real nice horse, and my second horse was a really good horse. I’d never seen it but my buddy was an 89 on it so I thought it would be good for me and it was. This year I just try to do my job and stay out of trouble as much as I can.”
In second place in the bronc riding was Jesse Wright, Milford, UT. Wright, 30, part of the Wright family rodeo dynasty and saddle bronc champion at last year’s Round-Up, scoring 173.5 points. He also won this event in 2016. In all there were five Wrights competing at the Round-Up and two in this event, including Jesse’s brother Spencer, who tied for third with Cody DeMoss, both with 173 aggregate points. DeMoss has won this event here twice, in 2012 and earlier in 2006 in a tie with Rod Hay. (Hay tied for the title in 2003 and 2004 and finally won it on his own in 2005, only to tie again in 2006.)
Jesse Wright, finished 27th in the PRCA standings last year, is currently 12, while 28-year-old Spencer finished 2018 in 17th place and is currently 7th. Cody DeMoss is 24th currently.
Nobody gets as close to his prey as a steer wrestler, who has to slide from a galloping horse onto a running steer, then dig his heels into the dirt for a jerking stop and finally flip the steer onto its side, all while trying not to be under the steer when it hits the dirt.
As described above, Jesse Brown, Baker City, OR, took the title in this event. Behind him were Stetson Jorgensen, Blackfoot, ID with an aggregate time of 15.7 seconds in 3 runs, and Bridger Chambers, Stevensville, MT, 16.6.
Jorgensen, 26, is nearing the end of his fifth year in professional rodeo in 11th place in the national standings for this event, with $76,000 in winnings for the year, his best yet. The youngest of four siblings who competed in college rodeo, Jorgensen is the only one to turn pro, in 2015. He has yet to compete in the WNFR but should make it this year, since the cutoff is 15th place. He won the Idaho High School State Finals Rodeo for bull riding in 2011 and won the steer wrestling for the Central Rocky Mountain region as a college freshman in 2012.
Chambers, 30, with seven years in professional rodeo, finished second in the event’s world standings last year and competed in the WNFR but is 17th currently, with a chance to make it to the WNFR if he can win a few thousand more dollars in competition. He is closing in on $250,000 in career winnings.
The local team of Jason Stewart and Calgary Smith won this event, as described above. But their time of 17.1 seconds in three days of roping was only 0.4 seconds ahead of second place finishers Bubba Buckaloo, Kingston, OK, and Cole Davison, Stephenville, TX, at 17.5 for the aggregate.
Buckaloo, 31, finished 5th in the world standings for this event last year, the first time in his 11-year professional rodeo career that he qualified for the WNFR, where he finished 9th. Given that he’s 25th in the standings this year and the WNFR accepts only the top 15 finishers in each event, Buckaloo is unlikely to appear this year at rodeo’s super bowl. When he’s not out competing Buckaloo is training quarter horses. Davison, 30, also appeared at the WNFR last year for the first time after finishing 11th in the world standings. He is currently ranked 19th. Like many in rodeo, his passion is shared in his family. His wife is a barrel racer, his dad is a cutting horse trainer and his mom is an equine nutritionist.
In third place, just 0.2 seconds behind Buckaloo/Davison was the team of Blake Teixeira, Tres Pinos, CA, and Jordan Ketscher, Squaw Valley, CA. The 34-year-old Teixeira has competed in the PRCA since 2007 but has yet to make it to the WNFR and is out of the top 50 this year, as is his heeler partner, Ketscher. Ketscher, 29, also has yet to make it to the WNFR but earlier qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo all four years at Fresno State University, four times in tie-down roping and three times as a team roping heeler. His brother Blain has competed professional in both team and tie-down roping since 2005.
Sage Steele Kimzey lived up to his reputation and stayed on his bull, after the first seven competitors ahead of him left their bulls in anywhere from 2.2
to a heart-breaking 7.9 seconds, not quite the 8 seconds required. The announcer’s effusive praise set up Kimzey to do what none had yet done and he not only rode past the 8-second mark, he also won the event, with an aggregate of 174.5 points in two rides. He was followed by Koby Radley, Montpelier, LA, 173.0, and Jeff Askey, Athens, TX, 169.5. In fact, of the 11 finalists, they were the only three to make it past eight seconds on Saturday. And after them Trevor Kastner, Roff, OK, set the short-time record of 1.8 seconds on his bull, as if to make the point—riding bulls is hard.
“He really kicked hard out of there and ran out of my hand,” said Kimzey, describing his ride on Saturday. He said he has a room at home devoted to the Pendleton Round-Up, with his awards and memorabilia. “We might have to make the room bigger. This rodeo is so special.”
Referring to his year, he ruefully noted that “It started up rough, I was really banged up. It’s been just kinda a grind all year until August, a rough year. I just pull my hat down and get through. Day after day, wake up and feel sore and beat up but now it’s just about done. Looking forward to qualifying for another national finals rodeo.”
Kimzey, Strong City, OK, has his reputation for a reason. He is currently #1 in the PRCA world standings, with over $230,000 in winnings and the 25-year-old finished last year in first place. He has won five consecutive world titles through last year, starting the year after he joined the PRCA, amassing nearly $2 million in winnings. This year will be his sixth to qualify for the WNFR. In 2014 he won an event-record-tying four rounds of the WNFR to capture the average title and became only the second rookie bull rider to win the gold buckle, tying the accomplishment of Bill Kornell in 1963. In 2016, when he was 22, he became the youngest millionaire prize money winner in PRCA history.
Kimzey previously won the title here at the Round-Up in 2015 and 2016. The PRCA record for consecutive bull riding world titles was set by ProRodeo Hall of Fame member Jim Shoulders in the 1950s. If Kimzey wins the title in December, he’ll tie Shoulders’ record.
“That record is definitely on my list,” Kimzey has said. He intends to keep a number of rodeo accomplishments on his bucket list.
Koby Radley, 21, joined the PRCA in 2016 and is 14th in the world standings and also qualified for the WNFR last year, for the first time, after finishing 10th in the 2018 world standings. Although he now lives in Louisiana, he won the Mississippi High School rodeo title in bull riding each of his first three years and won the Shawnee, Oklahoma International Finals Youth Rodeo bull riding championship at 17. He started riding calves at eight.
Jeff Askey moved his winnings for the year to just over $100,000 with his time at the Pendleton Round-Up to better ensure that he will retain his current #15 spot in the national standings, the last spot that will earn qualification for the WNFR. The 31-year-old has competed twice in the WNFR, in 2016 and last year, after finishing in 5th place with over $225,000 in winnings. Askey won the College National Finals Rodeo bull riding championship in 2010, the year before he joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).
Landon McClaugherty, Tilden, TX, won the aggregate in steer roping with a time of 46.5 seconds in three days of roping. He was followed in the finish by Kim Ziegelgruber, Edmond, OK, 47.0, and the famed Trevor Brazile, Decatur, TX, 48.0.
McClaugherty, 39, has yet to attend the WNFR but has twice qualified for the National Finals Steer Roping Rodeo, in 2009 and 2012. He has had a good year, winning eight rodeos, including five All-Around titles. He also competes in team roping. Earlier this year he was one of 20 rodeo competitors selected to participate in the Cinch Timed Event Championship, carried live on Ride TV. Like so many in rodeo, his family has a tradition of rodeo competition dating back at least to his grandfather, Len McClaugherty, who was a member of the Cowboys’ Turtles Association, precursor to the PRCA.
“I can’t believe it,” said McClaugherty of his victory. “I had a pretty good steer and just wanted to tie him down. It’s pretty awesome, the first time I ever won this rodeo and it’s a dream come true. We have three rodeos left so I’m not really thinking about the finals now.”
Ziegelgruber, Edmund, OK, once again supports the notion that ropers can compete forever. The 51-year-old joined the PRCA in 2001, has never been to the WNFR and is not going to be there this year since he’s not listed in the top 50 standings. He finished 28th in the PRCA standings in 2014 and while he hasn’t made it to the WNFR, he has twice qualified for the National Steer Roping Finals Rodeo.
Trevor Brazile is described above.
In the Round-Up’s only PRCA women’s event, Cheyenne Allan, Mabton, WA, won with an aggregate time of 57.59 seconds in two events, repeating the title she first won in 2018. She was followed by Kacey Gartner, Walla Walla, WA, 57.68, and Emily McKinnies, Emmett, ID, 57.84.
Allan was the 2018 Columbia River Circuit year end and finals barrel racing champion. She is only the fourth to win a repeat title in the 20 years since the Round-Up added barrel racing to the rodeo. However, she is the first to win titles on different horses: winning in 2018 aboard RS Mollys Honor and in 2019 mounting Streaking Honor Kid, Mollys brother. Streaking, known as Good One, has run the past four years in the Round-Up finals under another tough competitor, Teri Bangart, winning more than $30,000 in Pendleton.
“There’s a lot of fast horses out today,” said Allan after her victory. “The ground is great and all the girls got the same ground so it was good. My season’s been really good. I’ve been blessed. My horses have been sound.” No complaints.
Allan has competed nearly annually at the Round-Up since barrel racing’s start here in 2000. That may be a clue to her ability to finally conquer the infamous “Green Mile”, the Round-Up’s grass infield. It’s the only rodeo arena in the country with a grass arena so the barrels are placed in the dirt track around the grass, doubling the usual size of a barrel racing course. This change confuses and sometimes can upset horses, leading to dismaying results. But with a horse that had run for at least the past four years here and with a rider with two decades on the course, victory was at hand. As Allan said with her first victory here, last year, it was a dream come true.
Gartner was also in the competition last year and was just fractions of seconds behind Allan then, as now, sometimes leading after a round. In addition to her own competition she has a daughter, Paige, who has already competed in the Junior National Finals Rodeo in barrel racing in Las Vegas, winning 4th place in the event as a sixth grader in 2017. Her mom grew up competing in junior rodeos as well, then college rodeos, where she met her husband, Chance, a former competitor with Pendleton’s Blue Mountain Community College rodeo team. Kacey also trains horses, making the perfect opportunity to train her daughter.
Like Gartner and Allan, McKinnies has also run the Green Mile in previous years. She is currently ranked 20th in the Columbia River Circuit standings.