Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 | 2:26 p.m.
2013 Wrangler NFR Round 4
Approaching the halfway mark, surprises are beginning to crop up, proving that the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is a marathon, not a sprint. It also is an amazing family affair. For the second time, Jake Wright, 24, won his saddle bronc riding challenge, moving him from seventh to second in world standings. It also let him stake a claim as the best in his renowned cowboy family as his twin brother, Jesse, fell from second to seventh.
Everybody is certain that the family-friendly rivalry is the real outcome, and the twins weren’t just trading places to confuse fan. It could make Jake best in the world because he’s chasing the oldest of the Wright Brothers, two-time world champion Cody Wright, who won in 2008 and 2010.
Jesse is the defending world champion, but with his slip in the standings, Jake now needs only $9,659 in winnings to reach the top of the leader board and claim his older brother’s record.
Said Jake, who has now earned $37,260 from his Las Vegas wins: “There’s a lot of money to be won each night, and I’m going to come out the next six nights and pretend like I’m in 15th place and spur like a mad man. I could hear the crowd roaring, and it sent chills down my back and made me want to ride even harder. … It was an awesome feeling, and I’m jacked up for tomorrow night now.”
More than 17,400 fans were at our Thomas & Mack Center on Sunday night for Round 4 where Jackie Schmillen sang the national anthem and Susie McEntire opened the evening as a Memorial Night tribute to past contestants, officials and contractors who died in the past year.
For the fourth time, Trell Etbauer was presented the Linderman Award for overall excellence. The Wrangler NFR is getting worldwide coverage for Las Vegas via the live HD broadcasts on Great American Country (Dish 165/DirecTV 326) , Sports One across Canada, Rural Radio and online at ProRodeoLive.com
Trevor Brazile and partner Patrick Smith finished fourth in team roping Saturday night to push his season earnings to $269,911 and his lead over Tuf Cooper in the all-around race to $129,976 as he bids for a record-breaking 19th world title.
Tuf could earn $178,186 by winning the remaining seven rounds of the tie-down roping and the average, but nobody has ever done that at WNFR, and Trevor is competing in team roping and tie-down roping. He could wrap up the all-around title tonight.
Three-time world champion bull rider J.W. Harris rarely lacks for long-haul confidence and came through with his first round win of 2013 to vault into the average lead, four points ahead of Shane Proctor, who has two round wins.
J.W., the 27-year-old from Mullin, Texas, has earned $171,549 in 2013 and has a comfortable lead of $51,430 over Tyler Smith in the world standings. Determined to recapture the world title, he said: “It’s still early, and tomorrow will be the halfway point, but I just have to keep building on it.
“I haven’t looked at the world standings or watched any replays of any of the rides so far. I’ve just been going home and going to bed and trying to stay rested. It always feels good to win, whether you’re trying to push the lead or trying to catch someone.”
Cody Ohl knows that better than most. The 40-year-old tie-down roper, in his 19th Finals, looked to have his second consecutive round win until Ryan Jarrett equaled his time of 6.9 seconds. That was one-tenth better than Trevor Brazile. Cody, who has five tie-down roping world titles, plus, an all-around crown, has moved within $11,826 of tie-down roping world standings leader Tuf.
Bareback rider Jessy Davis, who earned a trip back to the winner’s circle for the first time in seven years, said the wait was well worth it: “Finally! I’ve placed in a lot of rounds and been second, so this feels great to win again.” It was his fifth time in Las Vegas for the rodeo and the third time he’d ridden the same horse.
Making a quick return to the winner’s circle was barrel racer Taylor Jacob. The Women’s Professional Rodeo Association’s Rookie of the Year earned her second consecutive round win, just short of the arena record of 13.46 seconds set by Carlee Pierce in 2011.
Taylor’s two wins came after Sherry Cervi won the first two rounds.
“I would be perfectly happy with this being the Sherry-Taylor Show,” she laughed. “She can win two, and then I’ll win another two.” She was first out in the barrel race and chose not to watch as 14 other women chased her fast time.
Taylor, a 23-year-old Texan, dedicated her two wins to her grandmother watching and celebrating her birthday and to her older brother who arrived just in time to see her ride. She added: “The rest of the family start arriving Monday, so it would be great if I could get a win every night a new member of the family gets in.”
Our thanks to contributing photographer Tom Donoghue for this morning’s gallery from Sunday night’s arena action and to the Wrangler NFR for its assistance with this report. Check back Tuesday for Round 5 coverage.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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