- Neal Reid
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The last two seasons, saddle bronc rider Cody DeMoss has been one step away from a world title. The 25-year-old from Heflin, La., finished second in the world standings each year, but comes into this year's Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at the top.
His lead, however, is miniscule by Wrangler NFR standards. DeMoss leads Chad Ferley by just $2,882 after Ferley won the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour Championship hosted by Texas Stampede in Dallas.
No lead is ever safe in Las Vegas, so DeMoss will need to have a strong showing at the Thomas & Mack Center if he is to clinch his first world title. It won't be easy for DeMoss, who tore muscles in his groin at the ProRodeo Tour Summer Finale in Omaha, Neb., in late September and is still feeling lingering effects from the injury.
DeMoss' injury problems began this summer, and his latest groin injury came just as he was beginning to feel comfortable in the saddle again.
Third-place Dan Mortensen (Billings, Mont.) is looking to win a record seventh saddle bronc riding world title. He is tied with ProRodeo Hall of Famer Casey Tibbs for the record with six titles.
No. 4 Cody Wright (Milford, Utah) could also factor into the world title chase, as he's within $25,000 of DeMoss' lead. DeMoss knows that anything can happen in Las Vegas over the Wrangler NFR's 10-day stretch.
2006 Wrangler National Finals Event Previews
7hPhil Steele and Will Harris
9hMel Kiper Jr. and Mike Sando
9hMark Schlabach and Sharon Katz