After such a promising start, the year was slowly slipping away for Ricky Canton. Fortunately, the veteran tie-down roper had rodeo's version of cardiopulmonary resuscitation performed at one of the regular season's highest-paying rodeos, the $225,000 Heart 'O Texas Fair and Rodeo.
By winning the aggregate and a rodeo-best $7,713, Canton just might have extended his season to his 14th Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualification.
"That might have given me the boost I needed to have," Canton said from his home in the southeastern Texas city of Navasota. "I started out and won the first round, then I got on a roll."
Canton placed in three of the four rounds to win the aggregate title by a second over world standings leader Blair Burk.
Canton entered Waco ranked 12th in the Jack Daniel's World Standings, but just $1,600 ahead of the 15th and final qualifying spot for the upcoming Wrangler NFR in Las Vegas. While he left only two places higher, the amount of breathing room is much more substantial heading into the final four weekends of the regular season.
His regular season ends at the Pace Classic, presented by the Interstate Batteries Texas Stampede (Nov. 12-14) in Dallas. He qualified for the $500,000 event by winning his event title at the Pace Chute-out earlier this spring in Las Vegas.
His victory there gave him $11,750 and pushed him to No. 5 in the world standings.
And that was as the most lucrative part of the season approached.
Then, something happened. He stopped winning.
"I had one of the worst summers I've ever had," Canton said. "I couldn't get anything going. It wasn't that my horse wasn't working good. It just seemed like something went wrong no matter what I did."
But the season's stretch run came along and revived Canton.
"Always in the fall, when I need to win, it seems to work out all right," Canton said.
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