Jake Cooper Clay and Billie Jack Saebens slayed the Bob Feist Invitational six-steer dragon in 47.11 seconds to win $150,000 after a short round in which the top 15 teams were separated by less than three seconds.
The duo’s day was punctuated by a 7.84-second run at third call back in an air-tight short round of some of the toughest teams in the country, sealing the deal when first and second call couldn’t catch them.
“I didn’t even think this was a possibility when I was a kid,” Saebens, 33, said. “It’s been a lot of hard work.”
This is Saebens’ first BFI win and the largest single check of his career. While this is also 23-year-old Clay’s first Feist win, it’s his second $75,000 check. He won the World Series of Team Roping #15 heeling for long-time best friend and eventual NFR header Brenten Hall back in 2016.
BFI day at the Lazy E started off relatively imperfectly for Clay, who drove to Guthrie the night before the Feist because he knew he wouldn’t get any sleep with the anticipation.
“First off, I had my back number in my pocket, and I’m saddling my horse in my stall and I realize my cinch is broke,” Clay, 23, said. “I walk around my horse, and my back number falls out right into my water bucket. So my back number is soaking wet, so I hang it up and go to the arena to buy a new cinch. The lady in the back wasn’t going to let me in without a back number. I’m like, ‘Ma’am I promise I’m a contestant, you have to let me in.’ It’s getting close to 9 o’clock at this point. She kept saying she wouldn’t let me in, but finally I just said, ‘I’m going you’re going to have to stop me.’ So I come up here and spent $117 on a front cinch this morning. Turns out that was the best money I spent.”
But they drew a good first-round steer and knocked down two stronger steers in the second and third rounds, then drew good from there.
“I told him after about the second round—both of my blacks have been good horses but not necessarily the fastest horses—that steer felt strong but I don’t know if he is or not because we’re catching up so good.” Saebens said. “They seemed strong but didn’t feel strong. It was a funny feeling.”
It was Saebens’ sorrel 7-year-old gelding Metallic Twist, a.k.a. Milo, that made it feel a little different for him.
“This is the seventh time I’ve roped here and I’ve made the short round five times, and I’ve won fifth twice and second once and now first. I’ve had two heel horses of the BFI, and I roped a leg to win first on another. This type of setup fits me better when I can get up next to the cow and read the turn. Riding colts, we make runs out in the arena and that’s more what I do more often.”
It helped, too, that Clay was on the only head horse to have won the Bob Feist Invitational with two different headers. Clay stuck his neck out financially when he bought Streakin Sun Dew, the roaned out, Fulton-Ranch-branded son of A Streak Of Fling that had been there and done that with plenty of the sport’s greatest headers. The horse won the Bob Feist Invitational in 2016 with Zac Small, and when Small stepped away from roping in favor of a career, Kaleb Driggers made the Finals on him. Driggers sold him to Jake Cooper, who also made the NFR on him.
“I was sitting in my truck at the Wild Card Round at San Antonio,” Clay said. “Brenten (Hall) called, and he said he heard Sun was for sale. He said, ‘I’d like to buy him, but I know you need a horse. If you want to, go ahead.’ The next day we were at The American Semifinals, and the Lone Star Shootout was that night. I had text Driggers about him, but I was on the fence because he was 17. The horse I was riding that I was going to ride that night was sore, so I had to buy him to have something to ride over there. I’d never rode him.”
“Back in the day, when Clay Tryan rode Dew, everyone would say he draws better than everyone else,” Saebens added. “No, that horse made the steers better, and that’s what it felt like today behind Sun.”
Sun was named the Head Horse of the BFI for his efforts, getting a bronze and another $500 check. (Joseph Harrison’s gelding Freckles Instant Coffee won the heel horse title.)
Clay and Saebens plan to rodeo in 2022, and they’ve already got $15,384.51 won in five rodeos, sitting 23rd and 29th in the world, respectively. TRJ
THE FEIST Results – 45th annual Bob Feist Invitational
Aggregate: 1. Jake Cooper Clay and Billie Jack Saebens, 47.11 seconds on six, $150,000; 2. James Arviso and Josh Patton, 47.21 seconds on six, $100,000; 3. Rhen Richard and Jeremy Buhler, 47.35 seconds on six, $70,000; 4. Chad Masters and Cory Petska, 47.92 on six, $50,000; 5. Bubba Buckaloo and Joseph Harrison, 48.33 seconds on six, $30,000; 6. Blake Hughes and Brady Norman, 48.54 seconds on six, $20,000; 7. Wyatt Bray and Cutter Thomison, 48.83 on six, $15,000; 8. Kaden Richard and Brady Ramone, 49.23 seconds on six, $12,000; 9. Dawson Graham and Dillon Graham, 49.24 seconds on six, $10,000; 10. Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves, 38.92 seconds on five, $9,000; 11. Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins, 39.37 seconds on five, $8,000; 12. Brenten Hall and Chase Tryan, 39.68 seconds on five, $7,500; 13. JC Yeahquo and LJ Yeahquo, 40.56 seconds on five, $6,500; 14. Clay Tryan and Jake Long, 40.82 seconds on five, $6,500; 15. Casey Hicks and Steve Orth, 41.13 seconds on five, $6,500
First Round: 1. Erich Rogers and Paden Bray, 6.92 seconds, $8,000; 2. Riley Minor and Brady Minor, 6.99 seconds, $6,000; 3. Keven Daniel and Adam Plyler, 7.55 seconds, $4,000; 4. Jake Cooper Clay and Billie Jack Saebens, 7.56 seconds, $2,000.
Second Round: 1. Clay Smith and Jade Corkill, 6.45 seconds, $8,000; 2. Tanner Tomlinson and Patrick Smith, 6.74 seconds, $6,000; 3. Brenten Hall and Chase Tryan, 7.03 seconds, $4,000; 4. Hayes Smith and Cullen Teller, 7.06 seconds, $2,000.
Third Round: 1. Aaron Tsinigine and Landen Glenn, 5.47 seconds, $8,000; 2. Clay Smith and Jade Corkill, 5.79 seconds, $6,000; 3. Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves, 5.97 seconds, $4,000; 4. Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira, 6.39 seconds, $2,000.
Fourth Round: 1. Britt Smith and Jake SMith, 5.58 seconds, $8,000; 2. Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins, 5.59 seconds, $6,000; 3. Clint Summers and Ross Ashford, 5.66 seconds, $4,000; 4. Kolton Schmidt and Wyatt Cox, 5.73 seconds, $2,000
Fifth Round: 1. Chad Masters and Cory Petska, 5.68 seconds, $8,000; 2. (tie) Braden Pirrung and Lane Siggins, 5.70 seconds, $5,000; 2. (tie) Marcus Theriot and Jim Ross Cooper, 5.70 seconds, $5,000; 3. JC Yeahquo and LJ Yeahquo, 5.89 seconds, $2,000.
Short Round: 1. Bubba Buckaloo and Joseph Harrison, 6.95 seconds, $4,000; 2. James Arviso and Josh Patton, 7.32 seconds, $3,000; 3. Dawson Graham and Dillon Graham, 7.54 seconds, $2,000; 4. Kaden Richard and Brady Ramone, 7.71 seconds, $1,000