Cody Snow and Wesley Thorp locked down the California Circuit Year-End Championship with $21,359 each won at eligible West Coast rodeos in 2022, but they still put an exclamation point on the year by banking $3,488 a man and setting the arena record to close out the California Circuit Finals Dec. 29–31, 2022.
They only competed at seven rodeos in the California Circuit—the bare minimum for circuit finals qualification.
With the win comes a qualification to the NFR Open in Colorado Springs, Colorado, July 13–16, 2023, and a chance for the $25,000 payout that goes with a win there—money that counts toward the 2023 PRCA world standings. The accomplishment capped off a year of consistent roping for the team that saw them advance to the 2022 NFR and finish 13th and 14th in the world, respectively.
“I’ve had a chance to win the California Circuit three times and haven’t finished so I was happy to finally get it,” said Snow, 26, originally from Los Olivos, California, who now calls Stephenville, Texas, home. “It was a goal for me and I’m glad I got it accomplished. Being limited and only being able to go to so many rodeos [due to our schedule], winning it was the goal.”
Snow and Thorp entered the circuit finals in Red Bluff more than $6,000 ahead of their competition for the year-end title.
“Going into 2022, we knew the year-end was our goal,” said Thorp, 27, of Stephenville, Texas. “We go to a lot of California rodeos in the spring. A lot of those spring rodeos can give you control and make a good, solid run.”
Their California plan fell into place, and they won two rodeos on the same weekend in late April: Lakeside and Springville for a total of $4,604 per man. A round win at Clovis on April 21 netted them $2,368 each, as well.
Snow and Thorp made another sweep through California in early June, bagging an additional $1,752 each at the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo with two checks in the go-rounds.
“There are longer scores in California, and it’s more laid back,” said Thorp, who won the gold buckle in 2019. “You go make solid runs, and good runs win money. It’s not so much a throw-from-the-back-of-the-box situation. The majority of them, it seems like the run happens farther out in the arena. It definitely favors our style.”
The team’s slew of checks gathered in the spring and early summer set them up well for the circuit finals and year-end title. Snow explained one of the perks of the California Circuit is the fewer number of rodeos—once a lead is gained in a circuit like California, he said, it’s tougher for other cowboys to make up ground.
Throughout the year, Snow rode his rock-solid geldings “Ringo” and “Burt” before swapping to American Rope Horse Futurity Association World Championship graduate Play Sleeping (Lenas Stylish Doc x Sleeps Poco Rosita) for the circuit finals in Red Bluff.
“Ringo is fast and really forgiving, so he’s really good for all those longer set-ups out there,” Snow said of the black horse.
On the heel side, Thorp relied on his sorrel gelding Pistol Playin Roy (Roys Gun x Lil Freckled Badger) “Cap Gun” throughout the circuit season before cracking out his 2019 PRCA World Champion mount Million Dollar Lexus for the circuit finals. “Lexus” had been with Bert McGill—who also owns “Sleepy”—taking reps in the practice pen and at the junior high rodeos for Bert’s son. Lexus, now 17, was critical in Thorp’s 2019 world title campaign. But, as Thorp has focused more and more on the horse side of his program, Lexus got to jump off the rodeo road and live the good life on the West Coast.
Wrap Up the Year
The California Circuit Finals concluded its season at Red Bluff’s Pauline Davis Pavilion Dec. 29–31.
“It’s pretty cold up there in Red Bluff that time of year,” Snow said. “The rodeo was good; the facility was nice. It was just wet and cold. The steers were all pretty good—pretty slow.”
The arena was in stark contrast to the California pens they’d been roping in all year—with a short barrier and tight setup.
In Round 1, Thorp missed on the heel side, but they found redemption in Round 2, stopping the clock at 5.2 seconds, good for second place and $1,495 per man. In the third round, a first-place time of 4.0 earned them $1,993 each.
The pair finished the year with $21,359 a man. They’ll head to the NFR Open in July—a first for Snow and the second time for Thorp, who made the 2017 RNCFR in Kissimmee, Florida.
“It’s pretty cool now because we’re in Colorado Springs that week, and we’ve never gotten to go,” Thorp said. “It counts for the world standings and you’re roping against less teams. Your odds go up, and it’s an average deal. It’s a place that fits our style.”