Clay Smith has led the PRCA World Standings since the season began in October 2017. He and heeler Paul Eaves have a $10,000 lead on the rest of the pack with $56,537.02 won as of Friday, June 15. Smith and Eaves will start their assault on the regular season in Reno, Nevada, first at the Bob Feist Invitational, then at the Reno Rodeo and on to the Fourth of July run.

TRJ: You and Paul (Eaves) have been so dominant up to this point. How are you feeling heading into summer?

CS: This is the most we’ve ever had won. I’ve been on both ends of it, but it really takes the pressure off of a guy. But I guess if you think about it, there’s really never any pressure off because there's so much money to be won out here in the summer. You can’t just lay back. Guys will get to winning. I’ve come to Reno before, the first year Paul and I roped, with $6,500 won and not even in the top 50, and we made the Finals that year. It feels a lot better to have this won, but you can’t let it affect you. At the end of the day, but you can sleep a little easier knowing you can afford to have a bad week. But we’re still trying to win as much as we can. We’ve set goals about what we want to do. We’d love to break the season earnings record and all that. It could come down to $2,000-$3,000 to a world title at the end of the year, so everything matters. 

TRJ: What advice do you have for rookies heading out for the summer run and starting in Reno at the BFI?

CS: A guy can’t get out there and get overwhelmed. Most guys won’t get out there and be starstruck because they’ve been around the best guys in the world at the big ropings before. For me, it was so hard to string together a bunch of runs. You’ve got to make a good run and get into a pattern of it. If you’re too slow, keep catching and you’ll work your way out of it. Catching 1 out of 10 won’t do it. I was wanting to go way too fast and breaking a lot of barriers. The most important thing is to go catch. 

TRJ: What horse are you riding at the Feist?

CS: I’m riding my grey, Marty. He’s 11, and I rode him there as a 4-year-old! I’ve ridden him there every year I’ve been. There really aren’t too many setups that don’t fit him. I was thinking of riding my sorrel, but I had to have him in another rig.

TRJ: How many years have you gone to the BFI?

CS: This will be my seventh time. I roped with my brother the first three years, and Paul and I have gone three years now.

TRJ: What’s the best luck you’ve had there?

CS: Jake (my brother) and I won third there the last time we went, in 2014. Paul and I won $10,000 or so a couple years ago, but we’re due.

TRJ: Why is the BFI so special?

CS: It pays so good, number one, and it’s been going on so long it’s got a lot of prestige.

TRJ: You just had a brand new son. Is he coming with you?

CS: No, he and my wife are going to stay home until things slow down. We named him Jade Smith, and he was born April 23. This is the first long trip away from him.

TRJ: Have you done anything in particular to get ready for the BFI?

CS: I’ve scored a bunch on my grey and roped and followed the steers down a little. I can’t overthink it too much—it’s just roping at the end of the day. I’ve got a few horses that I’ve really seen the steers out a long ways on. It’s not really anything different than another jackpot is how I've got to go about it.

TRJ: Have you and Paul gotten to practice much?

CS: Every day that we're home, but Paul and I have been roping and going somewhere all the time. .

TRJ: Do you have a mental routine for competing at big jackpots like the BFI?

I don’t like to go up in the stands. I want to stay in the roping mindset—I treat every jackpot that way. Nothing any different. It’s like going to the NFR. You can’t treat it any different than just roping. 

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