Brazile and Smith smash BFI record, earn $120K
Reno, Nev. – After winning 17 world championships with a rope, what kind of victory can still make rodeo’s only $5 million cowboy rip his straw hat from his head and pitch it toward the heavens? Team roping fans found out on June 24, at the 36th Annual Bob Feist Invitational in Reno, Nev.
“I haven’t thrown my hat but three times in my career,” said Trevor Brazile. “Once at the Timed Event [Championships of the World], once at the NFR, and right here today. I’m getting better at it – it took me a minute to get the crease back in it this time.”
The famed all-around superstar from Decatur, Texas, and his partner Patrick Smith roped six steers in a record 40.54 seconds to earn $60,000 apiece at the richest one-day Open roping in the world. They had to beat a field in which both the second- and third-place teams also obliterated the nine-year-old record of 43.75 seconds formerly held by Turtle Powell and Monty Joe Petska.
Not only that, but the BFI’s five-year-old record for the fastest time on one steer (4.46 set by Coleman Proctor and Jake Long) was smashed by Brock Hanson and Kory Koontz, who posted a 4.36 in the third round. They would hold the record just three hours before it was shattered by a 4.21 turned in during the fifth round by Spencer Mitchell and Dakota Kirchenschlager. Remarkably, a five-second run didn’t even place in the fifth round.
While Brazile and Smith didn’t place in any rounds, they led the average all the way through and are now the fastest team to ever rope six at the BFI. Throughout their seven-year partnership, they’d won the NFR average (2008), claimed the world’s championship (2010) and raked in more than $1.5 million – but never topped the BFI. Brazile, 36, had never even made the short round.
“I think now I may have just gotten my fees back from over the years,” he quipped.
More seriously, he added, “This is such a great roping – everyone who team ropes wants to win this. I’ve had a lot of chances, and every year I’ve wanted to win it worse. Something just always happened. When you have the top 100 teams in the world all here in one day, it’s like football. It’s any given Sunday.”
Aside from it just being his “Sunday,” Brazile credits his win with riding “the fastest horse he owns” – a 13-year-old sorrel named Banker – and better scoring.
“I got better starts than I used to get here,” said Brazile, who was without Banker all last season due to tendon issues. “One start was almost too close for comfort. But that was the biggest difference – I made steers look better than I used to make them look.”
What made the $120,000 windfall even sweeter was that it came as he and Smith were having their worst rodeo season to date. They hadn’t even cracked the top 30 in the world standings.
“When things haven’t been going that good, and then you have one more day when they don’t go good, it’s tough,” said Smith. “But when you win one of the biggest ropings there is, you’re more hungry to show up at the next rodeo. It makes it so much easier. Our roping finally feels right.”
Smith, 33, is a nine-time NFR qualifier and two-time world champion from Lipan, Texas, who won his first BFI back in 2005 with Clay Tryan.
“It’s been so long, this win almost feels like the first time,” he said. “This is something you never forget.”
Especially at a roping where Smith has joined the ranks of the best jackpot heelers ever, including Kory Koontz, Rich Skelton and Clay O’Brien Cooper.
“There’s something about the BFI that has a different feel,” said Amigo, who rode his 2007 AQHA/PRCA Heel Horse of the Year, Amigo. “It’s the history; how long it’s been around and how many legends have roped here in the past. But it’s also because you just have one partner; one chance. Man, you’re so nervous for the first steer here. Then the grind sets in and it’s about staying mentally strong and sticking to your game plan.”
In addition to the whopping $120,000, Brazile and Smith went home with the prestigious BFI first-place prize package that includes trophy Gist buckles, Myler bits, Coats saddles and Best Ever pads, as well as trailer hitches, ropes, saddle racks, tack, boots and artwork.
The reserve champions, Erich Rogers and Cory Petska, also blasted past the old BFI average record by roping their six steers in 41.25 seconds. From the second call-back position, they posted a 7.21 to guarantee themselves $84,000 and prizes.
“It almost made it easier, knowing I had eight steers to rope today,” said Rogers, who roped two steers over at the Reno Rodeo with Petska the same day. “I just wanted to turn them all. I’ll take second any day.”
The reserve title was sweet redemption for Rogers, who in 2005 at just 18 years old watched a BFI championship slip through his fingers when his heeler, Shawn Shirley, lost his rope in the finals.
As for Petska, he utilized a new strategy that paid off this year.
“I always came here concentrating so much on winning that I usually roped terrible,” he said. “Today, I just roped each steer as it came.”
Not only did Brandon Beers and Jim Ross Cooper also break the old BFI average record with their 43.47 to place third (for $53,000 and prizes), but Beers’ bay mare, Jewel, was named Head Horse of the BFI. It was Beers’ first competition back together with Cooper.
The Heel Horse of the BFI winner was Will Cowden’s 11-year-old dun gelding, Rattler. Cowden, just 13, had let his dad – eight-time NFR heeler and 1997 BFI champ Cody Cowden – ride Rattler to a ninth-place finish this year with Daniel Green and a fifth-place finish last year.
Complete results from the 2013 BFI are available at http://www.bobfeistinvitational.com, and DVDs of the event will be available later this summer through Rodeo Video (800-331-1269). F
–Bob Feist Invitational