Matchups set for 2012 BFI |

Matchups set for 2012 BFI

The roster is complete for the 35th edition of the world’s richest one-day open roping in Reno, NV, and the contestants you’ll see mingling at the ever-popular welcome dinner and reception at the Silver Legacy Hotel and Casino on June 17, will be a mix of confident legends and hopeful rookies.

The illustrious “Jake and Clay” are back, although with different partners (Jake Barnes is heading for Jhett Johnson and Clay O’Brien Cooper is heeling for Chad Masters), but a new “Jake and Clay” will be roping alongside their namesake heroes for the first time June 18, at the Bob Feist Invitational produced by Ullman-Peterson Events.

Young Jake and Clay Smith of Oklahoma showed Jay Leno how to rope on TV nearly 15 years ago, and as teenagers, raked in $141,000 at the 2009 USTRC Championships. The Smith boys will also compete alongside David Motes, 58, and Denny Watkins, 56, who won the BFI in 1981 – roughly a decade before they were born.

Motes and Watkins own 44 National Finals Rodeo (NFR) qualifications and six NFR average titles between them. In fact, Watkins – along with previous BFI champs Allen Bach and Mike Beers – will extend his streak of competing at every BFI for 35 straight years.

Here are some other pairings to watch: defending world champion Turtle Powell holds the record for heading six steers at the BFI faster than anyone else (in 2004), and with Dugan Kelly behind him, could be the man to beat. And watch for the bay horse that Turtle rode to his gold buckle in 2011 – also named last year’s Head Horse of the BFI, “Jim” will return with owner Richard Eiguren (who’s roping with Kyle Lockett).

It’ll pay to keep an eye on T.J. McCauley, 18, and Quinn Kesler, 20, who were runner-up champs last year, and new world-record holders Brock Hanson and Ryan Motes. Many more legends are in the mix, gunning for well over a half-million dollars in cash and prizes.

The roping founded by Bob Feist in 1977 is “Open to the World,” and held in conjunction with the million-dollar Reno Rodeo (performances this year run June 14-23). Tickets are available at the Silver Legacy starting June 16 and at the door of the Reno Livestock Events Center. Please visit or call 303-870-6489 for more information.

-Ullman Peterson Events