I remember sitting at Omaha in 2014, back when the PRCA and the city of Omaha hosted the Champions Challenge and Justin Boots Finale there. Derrick Begay didn’t have a great year that year, but even though he’d gone home, he got to fly in to rope at Omaha because of a rule on the books that he got to rope because he and Cesar de la Cruz had won the event the year before.
At the time, Cesar was roping with Tom Richards, and they were in the thick of a battle to make Cesar’s ninth and Tom’s first trip to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Derrick had one shot—one steer—to help out the partner with whom he’d made five trips to Sin City, but he didn’t have his great Swagger there to ride.
Every other top 20 roper had their best horse there, and, given the situation, Derrick could have chosen any of the best horses in the business on which to back into the box. But given the choice? He hopped on Clay Tryan’s Cate, who is gracing our cover this month in memoriam, as she passed away earlier this summer.
Cate didn’t win the awards. Dew, Clay’s Horse of the Year, got most of the accolades and fame. But Cate did the leg work for so much of Clay’s dominant streak, a streak that saw him win three gold buckles and the regular season six times.
On Cate that night, Derrick stuck—and he and Cesar won second with a 4.0-run, and Tom, who roped with Allen Bach, won the rodeo with a 3.9. A one-two punch that sent Tom and Cesar to the Finals.
“I’ve mounted quite a few guys out in my life,” Clay told me back in 2014. “This mare has been just as good as Dew, so I wasn’t surprised he’d want to ride her. The real good headers know she’s great.”
Cate, along with the other bred-to-fly head horses, are profiled in Julie Mankin’s feature on page 82, a story that tells you about the legacy of running-bred horses in the rodeo ranks.
On your way to that feature, I hope you enjoy the rest of this issue, and let me know what you liked: firstname.lastname@example.org.