Brady Minor will have a hard choice to make come 5:45 p.m. for 10 days in a row in Las Vegas.
Within easy driving distance of the Thomas & Mack, Minor has three hard-to-beat horses to ride behind Derrick Begay for the National Finals Rodeo, and which one he rides will be a game-day decision.
After running the strong NFR steers through Nov. 30, Minor planned to ride Sug, his 16-year-old gelding registered as Leos Highbrow, the same horse he's ridden behind brother Riley the last few years and aboard whom he won RFD-TV's The American in 2017. Sug was also the 2020 AQHA/PRCA Horse of the Year in the heeling.
"Those steers are big and strong in the first round, and Sug is really free in the corner," Minor said. "It's hard to get off him because he's been so good here."
Waiting in the wings, however, is Rey Shines On Top—the once-retired, Dean-Tuftin-bred, big chestnut gelding that defined the way a great horse should work for the better part of the last decade. Rey has been sidelined with injury on and off the last few years.
"I’ve been riding him every day," Minor said. "I went to the BFI in June last summer and turned him out and never touched him. I caught him after Salinas, and I had my vet at home inject his stifles before I left and he got shoes at the beginning of November. He looks as sound as ever."
At home in Arizona is Cruiser, the chestnut gelding Minor bought from NFR header and former Indian National Finals Rodeo All-Around Champ Dustin Bird. He and Begay were 3.9 in Buckeye, Arizona, with Minor riding him just last week.
"Cruiser is ratier and cowier if the steers are not getting away from me as the week goes on," Minor said. "He could be a better fit behind Swagger. I might have to ride different position myself, and I’ll know it going into it to stay away from the steer a little more. Cruiser finishes better, too. He almost wants to take your throw away, and he comes tight faster." TRJ