Posted: Jul 23, 2012 6:07 PM by Scott Breen - Q2 Sports
SALINAS, Calif. - The lead for the 2012 team roping world championship was on the line in the final performance at the California Rodeo on July 22.
A win the night before at the Snake River Stampede in Nampa, Idaho, had left 2009 PRCA Rookie of the Year Kaleb Driggers and his partner, Jade Corkill, in the driver's seat, holding slim leads over 2010 world champions Trevor Brazile and Patrick Smith.
At Salinas, the two pairs went head to head, with Brazile/Smith leading the average and Driggers/Corkill in second place after the first four rounds.
When Driggers and Corkill took a 10-second penalty for breaking the barrier in the final round, the door was flung wide open for Brazile and Smith to seal the deal. Their 9.3-second run in the final round gave them a total of 46.4 seconds on five steers, 3.3 seconds faster than second-place finishers Clay Tryan and Travis Graves at this Wrangler Million Dollar Gold Tour rodeo, presented by Justin Boots.
The $8,543 total each half of the team won was enough to push both Brazile and Smith back into the top spots with totals of $69,448 each. The win was especially gratifying for the 16-time world champion cowboy, who added a coveted Salinas buckle to his extensive collection.
"This is one of my most satisfying regular-season wins," Brazile said. "I'd won almost all of the major rodeos at one time or another except this one. I haven't had great success here in the past. Some years I didn't come out to it because there are so many other rodeos going on at the same time, and you have to be here every day to team rope.
"I love the rodeo, there's just something about it. They let the steers have that long head-start, and you have to run five steers in those conditions to win it. My good head horse, Sic 'em, is healthy again, and that made a big difference. He's the last horse I trained to rope on from scratch. I've always said the difference between the good ones and the great ones is the trust factor, and that's especially important here in these conditions."
Smith's No. 1 horse, Amigo, also recently returned to action after having knee surgery last fall.
"My other horse works great, but getting Amigo back is like putting on an old tennis shoe ... comfortable," said Smith, who won his first Salinas buckle in 2005 with Clay Tryan. "This is the third rodeo for him this year. I could have started riding him sooner, but we wanted to be sure he wouldn't suffer any setbacks.
"This is my favorite rodeo of the year. It's nice to get away from the heat and come here, and this rodeo is more about traditional team roping than some others. I had a chance to win it another year with Clay, but I had just about broken my thumb the night before playing softball, and I lost my rope on the last steer. (One of the many traditions in Salinas is a Saturday night softball game.) I chose to skip the softball game this year."
The other champions at this $384,902 rodeo were bareback riders Brian Bain, Tilden Hooper and Joe Gunderson (168 points on two head each), steer wrestler Tom Lewis (22.1 seconds on three head), saddle bronc rider Spencer Wright (167 points on two head), tie-down roper Hunter Herrin (30.4 seconds on three head), bull rider Shane Proctor (172 points on two head) and barrel racer Brittany Pozzi (64.62 seconds on four runs).
Information courtesy PRCA