Ironic as it may seem for the winningest cowboy of all time, Trevor Brazile is famous for entering fewer rodeos than most. Taking his three-event show on the road is a major production, he’s a family-first guy, and the fact is, he wins so much when he does show up that excessive travel is not typically necessary.
But there are exceptions to every rule, and being on the brink of a National Finals Rodeo qualification in a third event is an obvious front-burner priority. The 23-time champ of the world is second only to brother-in-law and reigning World Champion All-Around Cowboy Tuf Cooper in the all-around race, and at fifth in the tie-down roping and sixth in the steer roping in this week’s world standings has those events made. It’s the team roping that’s this year’s wild card for the King of the Cowboys.
Trevor is 31st on the heading side this week, with $44,317, which puts him about $16,000 behind 15-place Spencer Mitchell’s $60,125. For those of you curious about the heeling cut, with the same money, Trevor’s partner, Patrick Smith, is 29th in the world and only $12,721 behind 15-ranked Matt Kasner at $57,038.
With only a couple weeks left in the regular rodeo season, which ends September 30, every steer counts. They threw a significant spark into this Finals-cut conversation when they let their hair down and Let ’er Buck with a 4.9-second run at the Pendleton Round-Up, which is winning the second round. Shawn Bessette and Sid Sporer won the first round in 5.5, and it was worth $4,566 a man. Oh, and as a fun little fyi, the 4.6-second grass-run record at Pendleton was set by David Key and Travis Woodard in 2015.
“We knew that steer was going to be way better than our first one,” said Trevor, who won the first round of steer roping, and currently leads that average on two heading into Saturday’s short round. “They missed him in the first round, but he was below average run and came left pretty hard with the guys who had him before us. He didn’t go left with us, and it ended up being the best scenario for me, because my horse is still a little bit green about reading the play when things go left. Our runs finish better in the middle, so it was better that he straightened up for us.
“The only good thing about missing your first one (Trevor waved it off of their Round-1 steer at Pendleton) is you don’t have to second-guess yourself in the second round. I could definitely have taken a higher-percentage shot, but since I’d already missed one, I didn’t have anything to lose.”
They were 4.9 on the turf with Trevor riding J.V. and Patrick riding his great horse Amigo.
“He’s the best heel horse on dirt and the best on the grass, too,” Trevor said. “For one horse to be both is rare, and that’s an understatement. Horses that slide and do what Amigo does on the dirt can’t usually handle the grass. He happens to be the best I’ve ever seen on the grass, too.”
Trevor rode Wyatt Muggli’s (who is a nephew to late cowboy great Lane Frost) calf horse, Ears, and Shay Good’s red-roan steer horse.
“I like to ride a horse at Pendleton that’s been used outside,” Trevor said in general terms on how he determines what to get on on the grass. “They need to know where their feet are. I like them to have some experience—either they’ve been there before, or have lived somewhere besides a stall and in a perfectly groomed arena.”
Trevor has great respect for roping on the grass, and for the time-tested Round-Up tradition.
“Pendleton is the only arena this year where I walked up and took a picture of just the arena before the competition even started,” said Trevor, who regularly rides the Boyer-made Round-Up tie-down roping trophy saddle he won in 1999, and won the team roping at Pendleton last time he and Patrick entered, in 2015, when they split it with Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill. “It’s one of my favorite rodeos. I love it. Even though people come from all over and the crowd is really diverse, it’s a rodeo that’s never lost its tradition. I love the extra adrenaline that goes with coming off that hill onto the grass. I really feel like if you’re fearless at that rodeo, you can find a way to win something.
“A lot of people are scared, and there’s justification for it. There’s a lot that can and has gone wrong. But if you’re going to enter Pendleton, you need to make a decision to not let fear be a factor. I’ve always liked it. It’s one I look forward to.”
How do Trevor and Patrick like their chances at roping in Vegas come December now?
“That second run at Pendleton was pretty important, because had we not done that we would not be driving to St. George, Utah, right now,” said Patrick, who won the world with Trevor in 2010 after winning his first gold buckle with Clay Tryan in 2005. “If it hadn’t gone good on the grass, I’d be home by now.”
They roped at the Dixie Roundup in St. George on September 13, and left with Trevor winning the tie-down roping in 8.8, and the two of them second in the team roping with a 4.5-second run—Clay Tryan and Travis Graves’ 4.1 is winning that one right now.
“Mathematically, you still have a shot ’til the bitter end,” Trevor said. “We just have to keep rolling. Making good runs makes you know you can. It’s hard to keep putting your foot on the pedal to try and finish it out if you’re not making good runs. This helps a lot, it really does.
“It doesn’t matter how many gold buckles you have, confidence is hard to come by. And you need that confidence. This is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately deal, just like all professional sports. Winning now is the name of the game.”