PENDLETON — With his shot at a second Pendleton Round-Up title off the table after a no-time in slack but a performance paycheck still on the line, team roper Patrick Smith set a target in his mind.
“I said we’ve got to get 4.9 (seconds),” Smith said.
It was a lofty goal, even for the veteran roper and his legendary partner Trevor Brazile who were co-champions at the Round-Up in 2015. The arena record, also set in 2015 by David Key and Travis Woodard, is 4.6 seconds, and the Smith/Brazile tandem have had more than their share of hang-ups this season.
But Smith proved prescient and the pair quickly dispatched their steer, hitting his 4.9-second mark on the nose.
While they won’t return in the event Saturday, it was a moral victory.
“It’s just been slow,” Smith said of the season. “We’ve had horse health issues, and issues of our own. We missed some in June and July when you need to be hitting on all cylinders.”
“It’s been one of these years, but everyone deals with stuff,” Brazile said. “We’ve had more good years than bad.”
Smith said it was the last Round-Up for his horse, Amigo, who is 19 and has had two knee surgeries.
“He’ll live out the rest of his life in a pasture, getting fed apples from children,” Smith said. “He’s been so good to me.”
Rhen Richard and Quinn Kesler came in second with a 5.6-second time while Dustin Bird and Kyle Lockett placed third at 6.3 seconds.
Louisiana cowboy Shane Hanchey had some stiff competition going into his ride during the Pendleton Round-Up’s first day — the event’s penultimate competitor had just watched the “king of cowboys” Trevor Brazile ride, as well as the PRCA’s No. 2 Rookie of the Year Ty Harris set the standard for the day at 9.5 seconds.
When Hanchey raced through the barrier, he tied that time. Combined with his slack record earlier in the day of 10.7 seconds, he claimed the top spot on the leaderboard with a total time of 20.2 seconds.
“This was probably the best performance of my career so far,” said Hanchey, 28. “This is my favorite rodeo. I love the grass, the committee, and the tradition.”
Hanchey is currently the No. 3 tie-down roper in the world standings, and he even won the event during last year’s Round-Up. He’ll move forward to compete for the top spot again this Saturday, but he says he’s more eager than nervous.
This year alone, he’s won rodeos in Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, Washington, Canada, and his home state.
“I’m looking forward to Saturday,” he said. “I’m just gonna focus on myself and my calf.”
Isaac Diaz and Broken Bulb have made good teammates in the past. In two previous pairings at the Magic Valley Stampede in Filer, Idaho, Diaz said he scored a pair of 80s.
But the rider from Desdemona, Texas, and the bronc from Sankey Rodeo had their best outing yet on Wednesday, putting an 83.5 score on the board and setting Diaz up with a good shot at money again on Saturday.
The win was a big deal for Diaz, who faced off against a packed field of PRCA contenders, including brothers Ryder and Rusty Wright who are second and fourth, respectively, in the world standings.
Diaz is wedged between the two at No. 3, and is optimistic about his first chance at a Round-Up title.
“It’s not just about the Wrights,” he said “Every guy out there is capable of making the long round.”
Ryder Wright and Joey Sonnier III each put up scores of 81.5, and Tyrell J. Smith scored an 80.5.
Wednesday’s bull riding event was off to a slow start. The first several riders couldn’t hang on long enough and received no time, and Hollywood stuntman-turned-cowboy Dylan Vick Hice was the first to place, setting the record with a score of 80.0.
But that wasn’t enough to deter 20-year-old Koby Radley as he mounted his bull.
“I knew I had a good shot going in today,” said the Louisiana rider. “I drew a really good bull, and this is my favorite rodeo of the year.”
Radley earned an average score of 85.5 to win the day’s main event, edging out Gumby Wren (83.5) and Jordan Hansen (82.5).
Radley is currently No. 18 in the bull riding world standings — just a few thousand dollars shy of the top 15. He has yet to win a world championship title.
As soon as he won Wednesday’s event, he called his dad, a rancher back home in Montpelier.
“He was really excited when I told him,” he said. “My goal for Saturday is to keep it simple: Just stay on, and don’t overthink it.”
Ty Breuer made a good case for a trip to the National Finals Rodeo with a Day 1 win at the Round-Up, scoring an 82 on American Thumper of Outlaw Buckers.
Breuer is No. 12 in the world standings and edged out Nate S. McFadden (81) and Jake Sterno (80.5) for the win.
Kaycee Feild, a four-time world champion and seventh in the world standings, was beset with bad luck. After scoring 60, he took a re-ride and couldn’t do much better, posting a 69.
“I was behind from the get-go,” he said.
It was a competition full of penalties and no-times during Wednesday’s bulldogging event. Stetson Jorgeson, Tanner Milan and Sean Stantucci all failed to conquer their steers, and Andy Weldon added a ten-second penalty to his 9.0-second time for breaking the barrier.
This left the doors wide open for Rigby, Idaho, native Dirk Tavenner to claim victory for the day, taking his steer down in 11.1 seconds.
Tavenner is relatively new to the pro rodeo scene — he hasn’t won a world title yet, and has only won three rodeos so far this year: the Nile Pro Rodeo in Billings, Mont., the Sanders County Fair in Plains, Mont., and California’s Ramona Rodeo. He’s currently ranked as the No. 24 steer wrestler in the world.
Several local cowgirls took to the Pendleton Round-Up Arena to compete for Wednesday’s top barrel racing spot.
Stanfield’s Sandra Eng opened the event, clocking in at 35.09 seconds. Heppner’s Susan Gibbs finished in 29.78 seconds, and Echo’s Bobbie Correa finished with a 30.39-second time.
Although some came close, none of the main event riders could beat out Walla Walla native Kacey Gartner’s slack time of 28.75 seconds. Gartner is No. 119 in the Women’s Pro Rodeo Association world standings but set the high mark on Pendleton’s unique grass arena.
Vin Fisher Jr. and Cody Lee were the only two cowboys to punch times on Wednesday, with Fisher clocking in at 13 seconds and Lee at 22.5 seconds.
The nine other steer either escaped the rope or refused to be tripped.
Trevor Brazile leads the aggregate with 27.3 seconds after two rounds of slack.