They don’t call it Cowboy Christmas for nothing. The week surrounding the Fourth of July holiday is by far the most lucrative seven days on the calendar for professional rodeo athletes competing in the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and Women’s Pro Rodeo Association (WPRA). With 30 rodeos offering $3 million in prize money, one can understand why so many rodeo contestants burned up the roads and airways last week, trying to get to as many rodeos as they possibly could.
In 2011 59 cowboys and cowgirls earned more than $10,000 during the week; eight earned more than $20,000.
Trevor Brazile owns just about every PRCA record he could so it’s hard to imagine that he just added another one: the best Fourth of July week ever. Brazile, who moved ahead of Ty Murray — “the King of the Cowboys” — with his record-setting eighth All Around Cowboy World Championship last year, just erased Murray’s name from another category in the record books. Murray previously held the record for the best Fourth of July week with $37,630 earned during the week in 1999.
In 2011 it was all Brazile. Competing in the tie down roping and team roping with his heeler, Patrick Smith, Brazile earned $39,993 during the week. He worked hard to get it. Brazile left Reno, Nevada following the finals there on June 25 and traveled to Canada for rodeos in High River, Ponoka, and Airdrie. After that it was back to the states for Prescott, Arizona; Molalla and St. Paul, Oregon; Red Lodge and Livingston, Montana; and then back to Ponoka for the finals there. He closed out the week in Cody for the Fourth.
He won championships in the tie down roping in Airdrie and Ponoka as well as Cody. His haul in the tie down roping alone was $28,089, moving him from ninth to second in the world standings in that event. He is the defending champion in the tie down roping.
“I love to have my name on the money records (like Cowboy Christmas),” Brazile told the PRCA Media Department, “because this is how I make a living. But, you know, we place so much emphasis on the Fourth these days. The next three weeks have gotten to be almost as good with a little less traveling. July is such a good month for rodeo now with
the back-to-back (rounds) and being able to get to a few more rodeos. Travel is a lot easier after the Fourth, so when we win that kind of money, we can spend less of it on travel.”
Brazile now stands at $171,998 in earnings for the year, a big lead in the All Around standings and nearly $26,000 ahead of his record setting pace from 2010.
The second best Fourth went to 2007 World Champion bull rider Wesley Silcox. Silcox dominated the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour over the Fourth, winning both Gold Tour stops at Cody and St. Paul. He leaped from 31st in the world standings to fifth. In Cody, Silcox rode Robinson Rodeo’s RMEF Bugle, a regular on the Pro Bull Riders tour, for 94 points and a check worth $7,239. At St. Paul, he topped Corey and Lange Rodeo’s Hell Yea for 85 points and $7,683. All tallied up, his earnings were $29,186.
Another World Champion, 2007 Saddle Bronc Champ Taos Muncy capitalized on his Fourth of July run. He earned $26,489 and was the only contestant in the mix to use his Fourth to go to the lead of the world title chase. The Corona, New Mexico cowboy is now just $2000 ahead of the reigning World Champion Cody Wright.
The complete Top 10:
1. Trevor Brazile (TR/TD) $39,993
2. Wesley Silcox (BR) 29,186
3. Taos Muncy (SB) 26,489
4. Shane Hanchey (TD) 25,121
5. Lindsay Sears (GBR) 23,838
6. Curtis Cassidy (SW/TD) 22,146
7. Cody DeMers (BB) 20,192
8. Clint Cannon (BB) 20,155
9. Shane Proctor (BR) 18,987
10. Steve Woolsey (BR) 18,953
The top three by event:
1. Cody DeMers, $20,192
2. Clint Cannon, $20,155
3. Ryan Gray, $17,442
1. Curtis Cassidy, $18,289
2. Luke Branquinho, $16,203
3. Billy Bugenig, $14,057
1. Matt Sherwood/Cory Petska, $15,768 each
2. Riley Minor/Brady Minor, $15,547
3. Colby Lovell/Bobby Harris, $14,866
Saddle bronc riding
1. Taos Muncy, $26,489
2. Ty Atchison, $13,376
3. Chad Ferley, $13,217
1. Trevor Brazile, $28,089
2. Shane Hanchey, $25,121
3. Timber Moore, $18,295
1. Wesley Silcox, $29,186
2. Shane Proctor, $18,987
3. Steve Woolsey, $18,953
WPRA Barrel racing
1. Lindsay Sears, $23,838
2. Sue Smith, $17,025
3. Sherry Cervi, $16,618
Numbers courtesy of the PRCA and WPRA.