Time and time again the team roping industry continues to break records.
The Ariat World Series of Team Roping Title Fights XII, held Feb. 9–12, at Rancho Rio in Wickenburg, Arizona, hosted team ropers from across the United States and paid out a record-breaking $1.4-million.
“Since Rancho Rio has hosted the Title Fights it has set records each and every year,” said Ty Yost, President of Roping Operations. “It is now one of the largest, if not the largest, Ariat World Series of Team Roping qualifier of the season. With the addition of the #7, we hope to see it continue to grow.”
The Ariat WSTR Title Fights XII was one of the first events to offer the new #7 WSTR Qualifier pick and draw, which was capped at a 4 roper. Chuck Stewart, of Mathews, Alabama, and Troy Clark, of Morristown, Arizona, punched their ticket to the Ariat WSTR Finale, held in Las Vegas in December, after winning the Title Fights XII #7 with a time of 50.17 seconds on four head, worth $17,940.
“I didn’t realize it was a first-ever. It was exciting that the #7 was available for us 3s and 4s. I think the #7 is great for us 3s because it gives us an opportunity,” Stewart said. “The #7 is the only number that lets a 3, what I call ‘max out.’ A #8 roping, they never let us rope with a 5 because they cap it at a 4. A #9 roping, they never let us rope with a 6, they cap it at a 5-plus. I think the #7 is the only roping that they have that lets us 7s have a chance of being equal. And now I get to go to Las Vegas, so that’s exciting.”
This roping was also the first-ever that Stewart and Clark had partnered up for.
“A friend of mine that I roped with said, ‘I have a friend of mine that wants to rope with you if you don’t get one..’” Stewart explained. “I said, ‘Yeah, we’ll rope.’ Basically, we didn’t know each other.”
Stewart and Clark added $2,000 to their earnings after winning the short-go fast-time with a 10.90-second run.
Following the payout of the #7 Ariat WSTR qualifier, Tanner Baldwin, of Vail, Arizona, and Nano Garza, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, concluded the four-day event with their win in the Open WSTR qualifier with their time of 30.67 seconds on four head, worth $14,920.
It was a questionable head loop that curled around the steer’s left horn, but Baldwin waited to pull his slack to allow for his loop to fall down over the black and white steer’s nose. Baldwin handled the steer for Garza to pick up two feet and stop the clock in 9.13 seconds in the short round to secure their average win.
“Monday, we were at Downtown [Arena] and we were high team back and I did the same thing and I missed for $15,000,” Baldwin said. “When I saw that happen again, I was about to just lose it, and it went on. I was just so happy that I had Nano, because he stayed hooked and got him caught.”
“My heart dropped right when I saw that head rope twist around and then it dropped down over the nose and I was like, ‘Oh yeah.’ I stopped riding my horse, so I was just a stride back,” Garza added. “I kind of panicked, but it worked out in the end.”
Getting to the short round was a piece of cake for their team as Baldwin and Garza have been team roping partners for two years.
“It felt like they were really smooth,” Garza said. “We had a lot of timing and chemistry going on, so it was pretty easy to get to the short round.”
To top it all off, with a $204,000 payout, the #10.5 WSTR Qualifier was the highest paying roping out of the $1.4 million. The winners of the roping, Bobby Roberts, of Visalia, California, and Brent Pascoe, of Woodlake, California, took home $43,560—the largest paycheck of the weekend—after knocking down four head in 35.08 seconds.
“Any time you can slip away from work and go play for that kind of money and come away with a win caps the whole vacation—makes everything worth it,” said Pascoe, who works as a vet at Lone Oak Large Animal Veterinary Services in Visalia.
Roberts and Pascoe roped at fifth callback in the short round and stopped the clock in 8.86 seconds to secure the average win.
“There were quite a few teams that were clean at the beginning and then it got a little sloppy there midway,” Pascoe recalled of the short round. “We just had to go out and make a solid run and connect and we did.”
Pascoe’s wife, Shelly, took home her fair share of the overall Title Fights payout by winning the #8.5 WSTR qualifier with Pascoe’s uncle, Kevin Pascoe.
“It was a great week that we were all able to make it down to Wickenburg all at the same time,” Pascoe said. “I had a couple of uncles over there. It was a productive weekend for everybody. It makes the trip and the win extra special when you can do it with family and friends and bring home some good money.”