Whitfield, Cooper, Brazile among those chasing history at WNFR

Fred Whitfield’s autobiography – Gold Buckles Don’t Lie – is due to be published next spring and will end with his labors at this 20thWrangler National Finals Rodeo appearance. Whitfield says he’s “not worried” about how this plays out, but he also has a good enough sense of dramatic possibilities that he knows what a great last act could mean for book sales and his legacy in the sport.

Sure, he enters the WNFR 12th in the standings, officially a long shot, but he also knows that with a $6.125 million purse in Vegas, nobody can truly be counted out. Ten good days could allow him to claim his eighth tie-down roping gold buckle and tie Dean Oliver for the event record.

There is a certain symmetry to the thing: This is the year that Oliver is being honored as a Legend of ProRodeo at the Dec. 3 Gold Buckle Gala at the South Point Hotel, Spa & Casino.

“There are a lot of people who will look at me and say, ‘Is he going to be as competitive as he was at his fourth, fifth or 10th NFR?” Whitfield said. “But we’ll see. I’m going there with nothing to lose. My goal this year was to qualify for my 20th and I’ve done that … 20 in 23 years. I can look back over the season and say, ‘What if I’d won Reno, or what if I’d done better someplace else?’ There were lots of highs and a few lows along the way, but I made it to the NFR. Now we’ll see.”



Whitfield’s quixotic quest for further history-making is just one of several worth watching at this 54th renewal of the sport’s biggest event:

• Eighteen years removed from his last gold buckle – and four years from his last WNFR appearance – team roping legend Clay O’Brien Cooper has a very real shot at regaining a share of his place in the record book. Cooper and header Jake Barnes won seven gold buckles (1985-89, 1992, 1994) to set a ProRodeo record that stood until Speed Williams and Rich Skelton won eight in a row from 1997-2004. A win next month with 2007 World Champion Chad Masters would give Cooper his eighth, and he starts the rodeo second in the world standings to Patrick Smith.

• Bobby Mote’s goal since he started his ProRodeo career in 1996 has been to win more gold buckles than any bareback rider in the history of the sport. A win from the No. 4 slot this year would be Mote’s fifth, tying the record shared by Bruce Ford (1979-80, 1982-83, 1987) and Joe Alexander (1971-75).

• Luke Branquinho of Los Alamos, Calif., is seeking to become the first steer wrestler since Ote Berry in 1990-91 to claim back-to-back world championships and just the fifth bulldogger to win four or more gold buckles, joining Everett Bowman, Jim Bynum and Berry in a tie for second place with four, two back of record-holder Homer Pettigrew.

• And then, of course, there is Trevor Brazile, who is taking aim at extending his record for all-around titles to 10 by winning what would be his record seventh in a row. He currently shares the record of six in a row with Tom Ferguson (1974-79) and Ty Murray (1989-94). If he and team roping partner Patrick Smith win a round, Brazile will tie the National Finals record of 51 held by Billy Etbauer. If Brazile wins the all-around as expected (he has a lead of more than $103,000 on Steven Dent), it will be his 17th gold buckle, allowing him to break the record he shares with Jim Shoulders for most world championships by a multi-event cowboy. If he should also win the team roping title with Smith, that would be No. 18, tying steer roper Guy Allen for the record for most gold buckles won overall. It would also make Brazile the first cowboy in the sport’s history to earn multiple world championships in four categories; he enters this WNFR with nine titles in the all-around, three in steer roping, three in tie-down roping and one in team roping.


2. ProRodeoLive to air complete coverage of WNFR

For the fifth consecutive year, ProRodeoLive.com will present exclusive radio/Internet coverage of all 10 nights of the Dec. 6-15 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

ProRodeoLive is owned and operated by PRCA rodeo announcer Steve Kenyon, and will feature comprehensive live coverage of the Wrangler NFR, including a live daily program from the PRCA’s booth at Cowboy Christmas every morning at 10 a.m. (PT) and live nightly broadcasts from the Thomas & Mack Center at 6:30 p.m.

ProRodeoLive will also broadcast the PRCA’s annual awards banquet, starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5 from the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas.

ProRodeoLive.com’s Wrangler NFR broadcast team will feature six-time WNFR team roping qualifier Wade Wheatley, three-time WNFR barrel racing qualifier Jolee Lautaret, former Miss Rodeo Idaho and Miss Rodeo America runner-up Freya Walton, and veteran PRCA rodeo announcer Steve Kenyon, the recipient of the PRCA’s Media Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism in 2009.

Rodeo fans can listen to ProRodeoLive.com’s coverage simply by going to the website, www.prorodeolive.com. ProRodeoLive’s coverage can be heard on any smartphone by downloading the Live365.com app. ProRodeoLive’s coverage will also be heard on a network of more than 50 radio stations across the country.

3. Texas bareback school offered priceless lessons

HEMPSTEAD, Texas – The value of a quality education is priceless.

For young bareback riders hoping to make their mark in professional rodeo, the opportunity to learn from the best that play the game is just as valuable. The price tag, however, is almost unreal.

“We put on this school at no charge to the students,” said Kirby Cannon, who organizes the annual school with his brother, Clint Cannon, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Waller, Texas. “Our goal is to get more bareback riders in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. We take serious younger students.”

In fact, 145 students applied, but just 55 were part of this year’s Southeast Texas Bareback Riding School, Nov. 15-18, at the Waller County Fairgrounds in Hempstead.

“We encourage everybody to try to get their PRCA permit so they can compete at ProRodeos,” Kirby Cannon said. “We’ve got kids coming from all across the country and some kids coming from Canada, Mexico, Brazil and New Zealand. Some have never been on horses, and some have been on tons. We want to give them every opportunity to be successful.”

The cost was zero. The four days of learning was outstanding. In addition to the Cannon brothers, teachers included their father, PRCA Gold Card member Jay, and top-level bareback riders – Heath Ford, Austin Foss, Jerry Coble, Kelly Timberman, Matt Bright,  Evan Jayne, Mike Todd, Jeremy Willis, Blake Dornak, Zach Phillips, Taylor Price, Tray Chambliss III, Craig Wisehart, Doug Champion and Richie Champion.

“A lot of our instructors have been to the NFR multiple times, so we’re giving these guys a chance to learn from the best,” Cannon said. “They all donate their time. Some of the guys who are going to the NFR this year will get on during the school so they can get tuned up before they go to the Finals. I think that helps our students, because they get to watch and see how it’s done right.”

Students also get a chance to experience ProRodeo livestock. Contractors who donated bucking horses were Classic Pro Rodeo, Carr Pro Rodeo, Chad Lancaster, Rafter G Rodeo, Frontier Rodeo, Cullen Pickett and Catalina Pro Rodeo.

“We really couldn’t put this on without all those guys donating their livestock,” Kirby Cannon said. “Pete Carr was our first contractor, but with how our school has grown over time, we bucked 240 head of horses in four days. There’s no way we can thank these guys enough for doing this. They’re out the expense of hauling these animals here to Hempstead, and they keep coming back.”



“It’s maybe going to sound strange, but I kind of see Justin Maass as a sleeper pick even though he’s in the lead. He’s never been in this position before and he’s going up against a strong group of ropers.”

— Eight-time World Champion Tie-down Roper Dean Oliver, responding to a question about who he saw as a dark horse threat to win the gold buckle in his event this year. He ultimately settled on Cory Solomon as his “sleeper,” but likes Maass’ chances, too.


4. Next Up

Dec. 6      $6.125 million Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Las Vegas, Nev., begins

Dec. 6      Benny Binion Buckin’ Horse and Bull Sale, Las Vegas, Nev., begins

Dec. 28    Winter Classic, Mesquite, Texas, begins

Jan. 2       National Western Rodeo Timed-Event Qualifying Rodeo, Denver, begins

Jan. 3       Ram Texas Circuit Finals Rodeo, Waco, begins

Jan. 4       SandHills Stock Show & Rodeo, Odessa, Texas, begins


5. News and notes from the rodeo trail

For the first time in the 54-year history of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo there won’t be a single non-American in the men’s events in 2012 (Lindsay Sears of Nanton, Alberta, is entered in the barrel racing). Last year was the first in which a Canadian man failed to qualify into the top 15 in any event, but Sam Spreadborough of Australia made the saddle bronc riding field to stand as the rodeo’s lone international entrant. This time it is red, white and blue everywhere you look … With Trevor Brazile failing to qualify for the tie-down roping at this year’s Wrangler NFR, it will be the first time since 1999 that there has not been a single contestant at the Thomas & Mack Center who has qualified in more than one event. Brazile will still stand as the official all-around champion in Vegas because money earned earlier this month at the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping is counted in determining the National Finals all-around winner. Brazile earned more than $30,000 at the NFSR and was the only qualifier there who is also qualified at the NFR. It will be his seventh NFR all-around title, breaking the record he currently shares with Ty Murray … Texas always seems to dominate in the number of contestants who qualify for the Wrangler NFR, but this year the margin seems to be even more dramatic than usual. There are 38 Texans in the field of 120 (32 percent), and that is more than the next four states (Utah 9, Oklahoma 8, Oregon 7 and Montana 7) combined. Wyoming still holds the distinction of having the most qualifiers per capita by a sizable margin; their five qualifiers works out to about one for every 114,000 citizens. There are 22 states and one province represented in the field … The Big Sky Pro Rodeo Roundup Committee hosted a big send-off party for Montana’s Wrangler NFR qualifiers on Nov. 24 at the Montana ExpoPark Paddock Club in Great Falls with proceeds donated to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund … Three buildings on the grounds of the World’s Oldest Rodeo in Prescott, Ariz., are part of a proposed historic district in the town. The effort is still in its preliminary stages and would require approval by the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service … Former PRCA bareback and saddle bronc rider Frank Paz died Nov. 16 of injuries sustained in a two-vehicle accident on Crow Agency land in Montana. He was 58. Funeral mass was celebrated on Nov. 21 in the Crow Agency St. Dennis Catholic Church.



Regular-season final standings – Nov. 26, 2012
For the 2012 season (Oct. 1, 2011, to Sept. 30, 2012), official rodeo limits are as follows: all-around, 70; bareback riding, 100; steer wrestling, 70; team roping, 85; saddle bronc riding, 100; tie-down roping, 75; barrel racing, 100; and bull riding, 125. Bull riders can count earnings at PRCA Xtreme Bulls events toward the PRCA World Standings, but not toward the all-around standings.



1.    Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas                                    $247,977

2.    Steven Dent, Mullen, Neb.                                            144,465

3.    Bobby Mote, Stephenville, Texas                                  120,987

4.    Russell Cardoza, Terrebonne, Ore.                                  96,289

5.    Josh Peek, Pueblo, Colo.                                                 94,668

6.    Clint Robinson, Spanish Fork, Utah                                85,681

7.    Dustin Bird, Cut Bank, Mont.                                         81,340

8.    Colby Lovell, Madisonville, Texas                                 79,386

9.    Ryan Jarrett, Comanche, Okla.                                        76,774

10.  Rhen Richard, Roosevelt, Utah                                        74,020

11.  Landon McClaugherty, Tilden, Texas                             69,086

12.  Jess Tierney, Hermosa, S.D.                                            64,527

13.  Seth Glause, Cheyenne, Wyo.                                         53,899

14.  Curtis Cassidy, Donalda, Alberta                                    52,718

15.  B.J. Campbell, Aguila, Ariz.                                            49,721

16.  Paul David Tierney, Oral, S.D.                                        48,891

17.  Jake Cooper, Monument, N.M.                                       48,050

18.  Clayton Moore, Pouce Coupe, British Columbia            46,690

19.  Ryle Smith, Oakdale, Calif.                                            44,132

20.  Dakota Eldridge, Elko, Nev.                                           37,406


Bareback Riding

1.    Kaycee Feild, Payson, Utah                                        $141,639

2.    Steven Dent, Mullen, Neb.                                            140,781

3.    Will Lowe, Canyon, Texas                                            127,069

4.    J.R. Vezain, Cowley, Wyo.                                           112,337

5.    Bobby Mote, Stephenville, Texas                                  110,770

6.    Wes Stevenson, Lubbock, Texas                                   104,564

7.    Jessy Davis, Power, Mont.                                              88,043

8.    Winn Ratliff, Leesville, La.                                             80,266

9.    Caleb Bennett, Morgan, Utah                                         73,218

10.  Steven Peebles, Redmond, Ore.                                      66,688

11.  Casey Colletti, Pueblo, Colo.                                          66,633

12.  Matt Bright, Azle, Texas                                                 64,480

13.  Brian Bain, Culver, Ore.                                                  58,879

14.  Justin McDaniel, Porum, Okla.                                        58,299

15.  Jared Keylon, Uniontown, Kan.                                      54,478

16.  Dusty LaValley, Bezanson, Alberta                                48,800

17.  Ryan Gray, Cheney, Wash.                                             48,767

18.  Joe Gunderson, Agar, S.D.                                              46,767

19.  Caine Riddle, Vernon, Texas                                          46,572

20.  Josi Young, Kimberly, Idaho                                          45,266


Steer Wrestling

1.    Ethen Thouvenell, Napa, Calif.                                      $98,695

2.    Wade Sumpter, Fowler, Colo.                                         88,275

3.    Dean Gorsuch, Gering, Neb.                                           87,209

4.    Luke Branquinho, Los Alamos, Calif.                             85,345

5.    Matt Reeves, Cross Plains, Texas                                    75,871

6.    Trevor Knowles, Mount Vernon, Ore.                            75,834

7.    Casey Martin, Sulphur, La.                                              71,055

8.    Gabe Ledoux, Kaplan, La.                                              66,933

9.    Todd Suhn, Hermosa, S.D.                                             66,136

10.  K.C. Jones, Decatur, Texas                                             64,653

11.  Les Shepperson, Midwest, Wyo.                                     63,779

12.  Billy Bugenig, Ferndale, Calif.                                        60,591

13.  Beau Clark, Belgrade, Mont.                                           52,821

14.  Tom Lewis, Lehi, Utah                                                    48,014

15.  Bray Armes, Gruver, Texas                                              45,852

16.  Jason Miller, Lance Creek, Wyo.                                     45,797

17.  Nick Guy, Sparta, Wis.                                                    44,514

18.  Jake Rinehart, Highmore, S.D.                                        43,697

19.  Sean Santucci, Prineville, Ore.                                        42,792

20.  Travis Carnine, Stanfield, Ore.                                        41,997


Team Roping (header)

1.    Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas                                    $132,254

2.    Chad Masters, Cedar Hill, Tenn.                                   117,475

3.    Kaleb Driggers, Albany, Ga.                                         110,228

4.    Keven Daniel, Franklin, Tenn.                                          97,930

5.    Clay Tryan, Billings, Mont.                                             94,322

6.    Luke Brown, Stephenville, Texas                                    91,381

7.    Dustin Bird, Cut Bank, Mont.                                         90,391

8.    Colby Lovell, Madisonville, Texas                                  89,469

9.    Derrick Begay, Seba Dalkai, Ariz.                                  88,094

10.  Travis Tryan, Billings, Mont.                                           85,748

11.  Brock Hanson, Casa Grande, Ariz.                                 71,498

12.  Erich Rogers, Round Rock, Ariz.                                    69,968

13.  Charly Crawford, Prineville, Ore.                                   69,388

14.  Spencer Mitchell, Colusa, Calif.                                      66,868

15.  Turtle Powell, Stephenville, Texas                                  64,508

16.  Nick Sartain, Dover, Okla.                                              60,551

17.  Tyler Wade, Terrell, Texas                                               58,810

18.  Ty Blasingame, Ramah, Colo.                                         55,873

19.  Manny Egusquiza Jr., Madison, Ga.                                55,589

20.  Garrett Tonozzi, Fruita, Colo.                                         50,092


Team Roping (heeler)

1.    Patrick Smith, Lipan, Texas                                         $133,754

2.    Clay Cooper, Gardnerville, Nev.                                   111,043

3.    Jade Corkill, Fallon, Nev.                                              106,137

4.    Chase Tryan, Helena, Mont.                                            97,430

5.    Travis Graves, Jay, Okla.                                                 92,822

6.    Martin Lucero, Stephenville, Texas                                 91,381

7.    Paul Eaves, Lonedell, Mo.                                               86,817

8.    Cesar de la Cruz, Tucson, Ariz.                                       86,665

9.    Jake Long, Coffeyville, Kan.                                          84,685

10.  Ryan Motes, Weatherford, Texas                                    80,573

11.  Russell Cardoza, Terrebonne, Ore.                                  75,207

12.  Kory Koontz, Sudan, Texas                                            69,253

13.  Jim Ross Cooper, Monument, N.M.                                62,529

14.  Dugan Kelly, Paso Robles, Calif.                                    60,835

15.  Dakota Kirchenschlager, Stephenville, Texas                 60,554

16.  Kollin VonAhn, Durant, Okla.                                        60,551

17.  Rich Skelton, Llano, Texas                                              59,343

18.  Brad Culpepper, Poulan, Ga.                                           56,986

19.  Tyler McKnight, Wells, Texas                                         53,164

20.  Kinney Harrell, Marshall, Texas                                      49,772


Saddle Bronc Riding

1.    Jesse Wright, Milford, Utah                                        $133,098

2.    Wade Sundell, Boxholm, Iowa                                     114,036

3.    Cody DeMoss, Heflin, La.                                            113,504

4.    Taos Muncy, Corona, N.M.                                           100,741

5.    Cody Wright, Milford, Utah                                           82,339

6.    Chad Ferley, Oelrichs, S.D.                                             76,366

7.    Cody Taton, Corona, N.M.                                              75,067

8.    Jake Wright, Milford, Utah                                             74,553

9.    Jacobs Crawley, College Station, Texas                          69,888

10.  Cort Scheer, Elsmere, Neb.                                             67,751

11.  Sterling Crawley, College Station, Texas                        67,267

12.  Isaac Diaz, Davie, Fla.                                                     65,860

13.  Cole Elshere, Faith, S.D.                                                 65,837

14.  Bradley Harter, Weatherford, Texas                               65,459

15.  Tyrell Smith, Cascade, Mont.                                          52,311

16.  Luke Butterfield, Ponoka, Alberta                                  51,498

17.  Jesse Kruse, Great Falls, Mont.                                       48,265

18.  Samuel Kelts, Millarville, Alberta                                   45,053

19.  Troy Crowser, Whitewood, S.D.                                     44,770

20.  Cody Angland, Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia            40,562


Tie-down Roping

1.    Justin Maass, Giddings, Texas                                    $144,001

2.    Tuf Cooper, Decatur, Texas                                          124,421

3.    Cody Ohl, Hico, Texas                                                  103,659

4.    Hunter Herrin, Apache, Okla.                                         99,564

5.    Clint Robinson, Spanish Fork, Utah                                94,934

6.    Cory Solomon, Prairie View, Texas                                88,400

7.    Monty Lewis, Hereford, Texas                                       83,726

8.    Shane Hanchey, Sulphur, La.                                          79,215

9.    Houston Hutto, Tomball, Texas                                      79,102

10.  Ryan Jarrett, Comanche, Okla.                                        74,758

11.  Matt Shiozawa, Chubbuck, Idaho                                   72,032

12.  Fred Whitfield, Hockley, Texas                                      69,987

13.  Adam Gray, Seymour, Texas                                          69,091

14.  Bradley Bynum, Sterling City, Texas                              66,840

15.  Clif Cooper, Decatur, Texas                                            66,369

16.  Ace Slone, Cuero, Texas                                                 66,071

17.  Blair Burk, Durant, Okla.                                                63,153

18.  Tyson Durfey, Colbert, Wash.                                         53,141

19.  Jake Hannum, Plain City, Utah                                       51,890

20.  Josh Peek, Pueblo, Colo.                                                 51,001


Steer Roping

1.    Rocky Patterson, Pratt, Kan.                                         $91,932

2.    Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas                                        91,513

3.    Vin Fisher Jr., Andrews, Texas                                       86,503

4.    Cody Lee, Gatesville, Texas                                            67,399

5.    Mike Chase, McAlester, Okla.                                        53,700

6.    Chet Herren, Pawhuska, Okla.                                        49,646

7.    Jess Tierney, Hermosa, S.D.                                            45,515

8.    J.P. Wickett, Sallisaw, Okla.                                           44,437

9.    Chance Kelton, Mayer, Ariz.                                           44,007

10.  Kim Ziegelgruber, Edmond, Okla.                                  42,527

11.  Cody Scheck, Ellinwood, Kan.                                       40,301

12.  Dan Fisher, Andrews, Texas                                           40,247

13.  Rod Hartness, Pawhuska, Okla.                                      38,815

14.  Ralph Williams, Skiatook, Okla.                                     38,307

15.  Landon McClaugherty, Tilden, Texas                             32,013

16.  Chris Glover, Keenesburg, Colo.                                     27,959

17.  Marty Jones, Hobbs, N.M.                                              26,639

18.  Scott Snedecor, Fredericksburg, Texas                           24,408

19.  Cody Garnett, Barnsdall, Okla.                                       23,656

20.  Howdy McGinn, North Powder, Ore.                            21,808


Bull Riding

1.    Cody Teel, Kountze, Texas                                         $159,869

2.    J.W. Harris, Mullin, Texas                                             152,629

3.    Trey Benton III, Rock Island, Texas                             109,743

4.    Kanin Asay, Powell, Wyo.                                            100,274

5.    Seth Glause, Cheyenne, Wyo.                                         94,170

6.    Ardie Maier, Timber Lake, S.D.                                      90,191

7.    Trevor Kastner, Ardmore, Okla.                                      88,457

8.    Cody Samora, Cortez, Colo.                                            80,593

9.    Tate Stratton, Kellyville, Okla.                                        78,019

10.  Shane Proctor, Grand Coulee, Wash.                              76,376

11.  Cody Whitney, Sayre, Okla.                                            74,336

12.  Beau Schroeder, China, Texas                                         71,297

13.  Clayton Savage, Casper, Wyo.                                        65,979

14.  Brett Stall, Detroit Lakes, Minn.                                     65,882

15.  Tag Elliott, Thatcher, Utah                                              63,912

16.  Corey Maier, Timber Lake, S.D.                                     61,769

17.  Chris Roundy, Spanish Fork, Utah                                 57,820

18.  Cody Rostockyj, Hillsboro, Texas                                   57,160

19.  Tyler Willis, Wheatland, Wyo.                                        53,529

20.  Tim Bingham, Honeyville, Utah                                      53,186


*2012 Barrel Racing (through Nov. 26, 2012)
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.

1. Brittany Pozzi, Victoria, Texas                              $170,967

2. Lindsay Sears, Nanton, Alberta                              136,322

3. Mary Walker, Ennis, Texas                                     127,296

4. Carlee Pierce, Stephenville, Texas                          122,416

5. Sherry Cervi, Marana, Ariz.                                     93,062

6. Nikki Steffes, Vale, S.D.                                         86,722

7. Kaley Bass, Kissimmee, Fla.                                    86,281

8. Brenda Mays, Terrebonne, Ore.                               81,863

9. Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D.                                   72,462

10. Benette Barrington-Little, Ardmore, Okla.           68,394

11. Kelli Tolbert, Hooper, Utah                                   63,681

12. Lee Ann Rust, Stephenville, Texas                        61,587

13. Christina Richman, Glendora, Calif.                      60,882

14. Trula Churchill, Valentine, Neb.                            60,777

15. Christy Loflin, Franktown, Colo.                          54,852

16. Fallon Taylor, Whitesboro, Texas                          53,931

17. Robyn Herring, Huntington, Texas                       52,201

18. Sammi Bessert, Loma, Colo.                                 52,138