Sep 18, 2012 12:45 AM by Q2 Sports
PENDLETON, Ore. - Bobby Mote said it was the most fun he's ever had on a victory lap and his trip around Pendleton Round-Up Arena was "probably the longest one I've ever taken." Fair enough. This one was long overdue.
Since he first climbed on the back of a bareback horse more than 20 years ago in Oregon ranch country, Mote has dreamed of taking that lap around the grassy field. He'd been close more than once, but he had never won his home-state's biggest rodeo, not once in his 17 seasons as a professional.
"I'd been close before, losing by a point or having a horse not perform in the final," Mote said. "It just lets the air out of you. I've wanted to win this rodeo since I started."
A pair of Sankey Rodeo horses saw to it that Mote made it to the victory ceremony this time. He rode Parlor Game for 84 points to win the first round and Thunder Monkey for 85 in the Sept. 15 finals to tie traveling partner Steven Dent for second place and claim the two-head average.
The judges awarded Mote 47 of a possible 50 points for his technical excellence in the final go.
"I knew (Thunder Monkey) was good," Mote said, "but all of the horses here are bucked twice and they don't always have their best trip the second time. She stalled a little bit at the start and I thought, ‘Oh, no you don't.' But she turned out just great. She jumped high in the air and was electric. She gave me a chance to do my job."
Mote's 169-point total was one better than Austin Foss, a fellow Oregonian who attended one of Mote's riding schools a couple of years ago and is about to clinch the 2012 PRCA Bareback Riding Rookie of the Year Award.
With earnings of $11,261, Mote surged over $100,000 for the season ($105,690) - it marks a record 12th consecutive year that he has reached six figures, and it puts him in position to challenge for a record-tying fifth world championship when he reaches Las Vegas this December.
"Am I thinking about five?" Mote said. "I'm thinking about six (breaking the record shared by Joe Alexander and Bruce Ford), and five comes between four and six. That record's been my goal for a while."
What made this signature win at Pendleton all the more satisfying was the knowledge of just how far Mote has come to reach this point.
A year ago at this time, Mote was fresh out of Seattle Harborview Medical Center, recovering from surgery to repair a lacerated pancreas. He was 209 miles away from here, at home in Culver, Ore., listening on ProRodeoLive.com as Dent took his Pendleton victory lap.
"It was hard listening to it," Mote said. "At that point, the doctors were saying I couldn't even sneeze or I'd tear everything up. I wanted to root my buddies on, but I also wanted to be there competing, and I didn't know how long it would take me to get back.
"The last four times I've been to the NFR it seems like I've been nursing something pretty serious. Last year, I was just really, really weak. I wasn't in any kind of shape after months of recovering from the surgery. I wasn't able to start working out until a couple of weeks before the NFR."
Frustrated by that string of injuries, and surgeries, which had slowed him in recent years, Mote has entered into a program of weight training this year to give him additional strength and tone. The idea has been to use training as a preventative measure and so far, so good.
"Three times I've been at the top and been knocked to the bottom by the sort of injuries where you can't even sit up in bed," Mote said. "Each time you have to start over again. It's hard. But it is what is necessary if I want to make it back to my best."
• With checks in all three roping events, 16-time World Champion Trevor Brazile obliterated the all-around earnings record at the Pendleton Round-Up on Sept. 15, and that all happened just a couple of hours after he had occasion to consider his mortality at 30,000 feet over Colorado.
A full day, all in all.
Brazile and team roping partner Patrick Smith boarded a charter flight out of Abilene, Texas, at 5:30 a.m. on Sept. 15 to make it back to Pendleton for the finals. They stopped in Grand Junction, Colo., for fuel and after they took off again, well, that's when things got interesting.
"It was a smooth ride and then the pilot leaned back and said he had a problem ... we had a problem ... I guess when you're in something like that together y'all have a problem," Brazile said. "The pilot said he was losing oil pressure and had to find an emergency landing place.
"That was a long 25 minutes. A lot of cowboys were praying in that plane, that's for sure. But everything worked out. We landed at Salt Lake International; we had 40 minutes to catch a plane."
Brazile lucked into a commercial flight into Pasco, Wash., an hour's drive from Pendleton, and made it just in time for his first event, the tie-down roping. He came in third in the three-head average, and then he and Smith won the team roping final to end up fourth in the average.
Brazile's total earnings of $20,204 were $6,651 better than the record set by Cash Myers in 2005 of $13,553. Put another way? Brazile's total was more than the last three Pendleton all-around champions. Combined.
The big weekend in the Northwest put him over $200,000 in regular-season earnings for a ProRodeo record seventh consecutive year, and the 11th time in 12 years (he missed in 2005 with $197,400).
• In 13th place and on the bubble to qualify for the Wrangler NFR, Todd Suhn won the steer wrestling final in 5.1 seconds to secure the three-head average title and $11,560. With an additional second-place check in St. George, Utah, Suhn is now eighth in the world standings with $61,057 and seems a sure thing to make the field in Vegas for a 16th time, tying him with Byron Walker for second place on the all-time list behind Roy Duvall's 24 qualifications. It was Suhn's third win at Pendleton, having won in his rookie season of 1996 (when he also won the all-around title) and again in 2007, along with three second-place finishes. "I'm hoping they'll plant grass in the Thomas & Mack," Suhn said. "I don't know if they'll go for it, but ..."
• It seems to be the year of The Big Surprise in steer roping. First, Jay Pixley takes the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days title and now Coy Thompson of Whitewood, S.D., comes through to win at Pendleton. Thompson's time of 47.4 seconds on three head was enough to edge Joe Wells by four-tenths of a second. His earnings of $6,906 more than doubled his season total - he started the week 47th in the world with $6,255 - and assured him of the biggest season since buying his card in 2003.
The other champions in the 102nd Pendleton Round-Up were team ropers Colby Lovell and Russell Cardoza (18.3 seconds on three head), saddle bronc rider Cody DeMoss (171 points on two head), tie-down roper Houston Hutto (28.1 seconds on three head), bull rider Parker Breding (175 points on two head) and barrel racer Christy Loflin (57.64 on two runs). Breding's father, Scott, won the Pendleton bull riding in 1996.