With rodeo on television nearly every night thanks to the agreement between the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and The Cowboy Channel, the who's-riding-what and who's-roping-with-who games are a little easier to follow.
Standing out in the new-partner-new-horse crowd is Luke Brown, who with two-time World Champion Patrick Smith has won $8,625 a man at San Antonio's Stock Show and Rodeo heading into Saturday's final round.
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Brown, who has 12 consecutive National Finals Rodeo qualifications and $2.2 million in PRCA career earnings to his name, bought 15-year-old WM Genuine Breeze from Kaleb Driggers after the 2019 NFR. Driggers rode him the first few rounds of the NFR, before getting back on his gray gelding Yahtzee (aboard whom Dustin Bird just set the San Antonio arena record last week).
“Driggers told me I needed him,” Brown joked. “I actually asked him about him before the Finals, and I bought him after Vegas.”
Brown lost his upcoming great one—16-year-old Rebel—in a tragic accident in Wickenburg, Arizona, just days before the NFR. Brown rode his long-score, jackpot horse Cowboy in Vegas, where he and Paul Eaves finished third in the average and won $97,154 each.
“With everything that was coming up this year—The American, Fort Worth, San Antonio—being basically one-headers when you think of it, I thought I needed one to ride at the short scores,” Brown said. “He’s really fast and fast-footed. I just felt like I could do good on him.”
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The yellow gelding has had many different names in his career—"yellow gelding" under breeder and five-time NFR tie-down-roper Willard Moody, "Yellow Dawg" under Ariat World Series of Team Roping competitor JP Powell, "DS" with Bubba Buckaloo, who rode the horse much of the 2019 regular season and "Maestro" for Driggers.
But Brown left the naming of the yellow horse up to his 6-year-old daughter Libby, who came up with Bob.
"I told Lacy and Libby his name, and Libby said that was too hard to remember," Brown said. "So I said she could name him. I left for few hours, and when I came home I asked her what his new name was, and she said, 'I think Bob.' Bob it is."
(It's not lost on any of us that Bob happens to be the name of the AQHA/PRCA Horse of the Year, registered as RK Tuff Trinket and owned by Riley Minor.)
With a pedigree jam-packed with race blood, including the likes of Otoe and Oklahoma Fuel, it's no wonder the palomino has stood out for his speed, no matter who's on his back. And he's not the first yellow that Brown's had good luck on. Brown's made a career as of late aboard his 20-year-old gelding Rockstar, known better as Yella, and Fast Time, the 17-year-old palomino he got from Colby Lovell.
“I promise it’s just a coincidence the last four have been yellow,” Brown laughed.
The horse has a tendency to want to go with the gates because of his background at the World Series jackpots, Brown said, meaning he’s been adjusting his scoring accordingly. Brown admits he messed up to break the barrier and miss at Fort Worth, and rode Bob poorly at San Angelo. But in the process they’ve already won over $14,000 on the year, with an even bigger San Antonio payday a possibility Saturday night.
The rolls Bob have been giving the team haven’t been lost on Brown’s partner.
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Driven 2.0 DVD, by Patrick Smith
"First of all, any time you have a good head horse that fits somebody," Smith said, who heels behind Brown on the iconic dun stallion WSR Hesa Dunofa Lena. "It makes everybody's job easier. Luke has been working through some things, getting used to the feel. He's doing a great job. That horse is so quick, so quick-footed across the line and makes things happen. Like anybody who stays in the game for a while, Luke’s game evolves. That horse fits what he's doing now, with no wasted motion. It's so easy for that type of setup for Luke. He leaves so flat." TRJ