LAS VEGAS, Nev. For Trevor Brazile and his quest for the ever-elusive Triple Crown, it's two down, one to go. Brazile, of Decatur, Texas, finished second in the tie-down roping and tied for third place in the team roping in Round 8 of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo to officially clinch his fifth career all-around world title in front of 17,411 at the Thomas & Mack Center Thursday night.
Brazile, who also won all-around gold buckles from 2002-2004 and 2006, won his second straight steer roping world title in early November and picked up the second piece of the Triple Crown puzzle with the all-around crown in Round 8.
Now, he needs either the tie-down roping gold buckle or a win in the team roping to become the first Triple Crown winner in ProRodeo since Roy Cooper in 1983. Brazile's second-place finish in the tie-down roping widened his lead in that event in the Crusher Rentals PRCA World Standings to nearly $20,000 over Houston Hutto, and he ranks fifth among headers in the team roping standings heading into the Wrangler NFR's final two rounds.
The focused and determined Brazile was happy with the all-around gold buckle, but knows he still has work to do this weekend in order to achieve his ultimate goal.
"Number five is awesome," said Brazile, who is competing with a herniated disk in his back. "It just makes it that much better because it's happening right now in the middle of the week. That's just one less thing I have to worry about this week. I've got two more go-rounds in each event that bring enough pressure themselves, because my team roping partner (Patrick Smith) has a chance to win the world in the heeling. I've got that on one burner and my quest in the tie-down roping, that's a whole other deal. I'm just happy, and it's going to be a thrill the next two days, one way or another."
Josh Peek, who was eliminated from contention in the all-around race behind Brazile when he failed to record a time in the steer wrestling, won the tie-down roping in 7.5 seconds, one-tenth of a second ahead of Brazile. Peek, of Pueblo, Colo., won a share of Round 6 along with Houston Hutto and enjoyed getting back to the winner's circle in Round 8.
"It feels great just being here in the presence of Cody (Ohl) and Trevor (Brazile), so to actually be winning is great," Peek said. "I had to change ropes tonight, the rope I used the last round had gotten a little kinked up. So, I had to use a new rope tonight, and I just told myself to use a big loop and make sure my swing was open."
Peek, while disappointed about not winning the all-around title, has a positive outlook about his runner-up finish.
"I was a little bummed I didn't win the all-around this year, but I didn't go into this year with that as one of my main goals," Peek said. "I was a little bit behind coming into the week, but I wasn't going to give up. I'm pulling for Trevor to win the Triple Crown. He is a great guy, and he is an idol of mine. One of my goals is to be a champion like Trevor, so I am excited for him."
The bareback riding ended in a tie when 2002 World Champion Bobby Mote and Scott Montague were both scored with 84.5-point rides. Mote, who leads the Crusher Rentals PRCA World Standings by more than $35,000 over Justin McDaniel, rode Harry Vold Rodeo's Dusty Dan to the mark. Montague, whose wife, Lynzie, is nearly due with their first child, was marked 84.5 points on Stace Smith's RD Mercer.
Mote, of Culver, Ore., won the fourth round, but struggled in the following rounds before he got a good tip from a mentor.
"Clint Corey (1991 World Champion) has been calling me every morning, and he's my coach," Mote said. "He watches the rodeo and then calls me. I talked to him this morning, and he said I just needed to slow down and build my ride. That's why I messed up last night, because I wasn't patient enough. So, I just tried to take a deep breath, get in there and stick to the basics, and it seemed to work."
Montague, of Rapid City, S.D., came into Round 8 with a stomach full of butterflies after being roughed up in Round 7. He rose to the challenge, however, and ended up on top.
"It was a little tough coming into tonight," Montague said. "I was a little shaky, and I'm not going to lie, I was a little scared tonight. I was a little nervous, especially with a horse like that (RD Mercer). With a horse like that, you don't have a lot of time to think about it. It's just bang, bang, bang and then you're done."
No steer wrestler had won more rounds than Sean Mulligan heading into Round 8, and that became even more true after the dust had cleared. Mulligan, who won a share of Round 4 and Round 6 by himself, turfed his steer in 3.4 seconds to win the steer wrestling by three-tenths of a second ahead of Round 3 winner Jason Miller to add another $16,394 to his bottom line.
"I feel like I've gotten the start down pretty well," said Mulligan, who ranks second in the Wrangler NFR average (34.7 seconds on eight) and ninth in the world standings. "I'm getting a good start, but I'm not pushing the barrier too much. They missed my steer the second time they ran him, so I knew he was going to check up, and I knew I needed to get a good start. I got a good start, and I saw that Curtis (Cassidy) started a little early, but that happened to work out perfectly because it brought the steer to me. I think that gave me a better go than the guys who had run the steer before.
"I just feel like, if I keep drawing well, then I can keep winning."
The team roping title went to Speed Williams and Dean Tuftin, and it was a fitting victory considering Tuftin is the first Canadian-born team roper to compete at the Wrangler NFR and Thursday night was Canadian Night. Williams, of Deleon, Texas, and Tuftin, who lives in Prineville, Ore., stopped the clock in 3.7 seconds to win the round by three-tenths of a second ahead of the team of Clay Tryan and Walt Woodard.
Tuftin's win on Canadian Night was a storybook affair.
"That was awesome," Tuftin said of the special victory. "Especially to win a round like that when everybody was being so fast, to go ahead and step it up and be faster than everybody else feels great. And for me to win at my first NFR on Canadian Night made it extra-special for me."
Tuftin has plans for who he's going to give his round buckle to.
"Probably my dad," Tuftin said. "My parents have been so supportive of me since I was little, and he deserves to wear a buckle like that."
The second-place finish kept Tryan within striking distance of world standings leader Chad Masters and widened Woodard's lead in the heeling standings over Cesar de la Cruz. It's an understatement to say that the final two rounds in team roping should be interesting.
He's won five saddle bronc riding world titles, but Billy Etbauer had failed to cash a check in six out of seven rounds at this year's Wrangler NFR. That all changed in Round 8, when Etbauer rode Mosbrucker Rodeo Company's War Chick for 88.5 points to win the round and earn $16,394. Etbauer, of Edmond, Okla., finished 3.5 points ahead of Chet Johnson, who scored 85 points on Flying U Rodeo's Wicked Felina.
Etbauer is riding in his 19th Wrangler NFR, and he said that winning a round in Las Vegas never gets old.
"That is what a guy is here for, to win rounds, and I've been fortunate to do that," Etbauer said. "It's just fun to be able to ride with these kids. Everybody is pulling for me, not only the crowd, but the cowboys. It's unreal, it really is. People the whole day are supportive, and I can't thank everybody enough for that."
Etbauer was bucked off in five straight rounds from Round 2-6, but got back on the winning track on War Chick.
"I felt like she was doing her job," Etbauer said of the Mosbrucker horse. "I was just glad to keep my rear end in there."
The barrel racing results at this year's Wrangler NFR are beginning to look somewhat repetitive, and Lindsay Sears is the cause of that. The Nanton, Alberta, cowgirl won her fourth round and second one in a row with a 13.69-second run in Round 8 to push her Wrangler NFR earnings total to $88,317 and close the gap between her and world standings leader Brittany Pozzi-Pharr to less than $8,000.
Riding her 7-year-old mare Martha, Sears finished the cloverleaf pattern faster than the rest of the field, with Lisa Lockhart in second place in 13.79 seconds. Sears has won more rounds at this year's Wrangler NFR than any other contestant, and she has no plans of slowing down.
"It's an amazing feeling," Sears said of winning four out of eight rounds. "You would like to expect to do well coming in here, but to actually achieve it is unexplainable. After last year, I never thought I'd see the (winner's) stage at the South Point, so to have had the privilege to go up there so many times has been great."
Sears now has a legitimate shot at the world title.
"I guess the thought (of winning a title) does cross your mind, you want to tell people that it doesn't, but it does," Sears said. "It doesn't change anything that I am going to do. I'm still going to go do the same thing every night, which is try and win first. My horse doesn't allow me to play it safe; it's either all or nothing. You're always going to count on Brittany to be consistent and to be tough, so you've got to bring your game."
Bull rider Ted Bert won his second round in three days, this time riding Powder River Rodeo's Savage Shaker for 90 points to take over the Wrangler NFR average lead with 424.5 points on five head. Bert, who also won Round 6, finished four points ahead of Chance Smart, who earned an 86 on Frontier Rodeo's Salty Cat.
Bert said after his Round 6 win that he wasn't aiming for individual round titles, but rather the average crown, but he's been able to achieve both aims in Las Vegas this year. With the successful ride in Round 8, he also got some revenge on Savage Shaker.
"He bucked me off in Omaha, so I was happy to have him (again)," Bert said. "He went around to the left tonight. In Omaha, he went around to the right and about jerked my rope out of my hand. Honestly, my goal this week is to win money to buy an arena a practice pen before I leave. I still have a lot more to win, I think."
For more information on the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo visit prorodeo.org