Joseph Harrison and Main Street Boon have been a Wrangler National Finals Rodeo staple since Harrison's first appearance at rodeo's Super Bowl in 2017.
Main Street is undoubtedly one of the best heel horses of the era, having netted Harrison and his partner Luke Brown the $100,000 per man at RFD-TV's The American in early March.
But with the 2020 NFR's massive infield setup and strong cattle, Harrison realized he needed to make a change after Round 5.
"Well, Street is getting tired," Harrison, 33, of Marietta, Oklahoma, said. "It’s five nights in a row, and the steers are strong, and I'm hauling him there and back from the house. Any setup is his setup three or four years ago, but he’s 16 and his old legs are tired."
Luckily for Harrison, his heel horse well is as deep as anyone's and, in Round 6, he cracked out a 7-year-old bay gelding registered as CRR Hurricane Fajita he calls Capone.
"I over-rode him a little, and that steer checked off and rolled just a little," Harrison said of their Round 6 run. "You wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t over-rode him. I could have just sit on him and let him go. He’s strong and he can run."
Brown and Harrison won 11,000 world standings points each for their efforts on that 4.2-second run, and they came back to survive Round 7—in a run that required Brown to fish on his head loop—with a 7.10-second run. Heading into Round 8, they're second in the average with a time of 34.80 seconds on six head and, if the rodeo ended right now and average placing and payout were calculated in, they'd be the world champs.
So what's the deal on this little bay? Those following horse-training trends won't be surprised he came from industry-insider trainer Miles Baker, 28, of Mountain Park, Oklahoma.
Miles—who's long been regarded among the best young hands in the industry—is a working ranch cowboy, 7 header and 5.5 heeler whose work is most visible in Trevor Brazile's barn of great horses. Baker and Brazile partner on head and heel horses, including a few of those that Brazile won over $100,000 on at the American Rope Horse Futurity Association World Championships.
"We were at Trevor’s roping one day, and I had heeled a few on him," Miles remembered of that day this Spring. "I assume Trevor had planted the bug in Joseph’s ear, and Joseph rode over and said, 'Milesy, I think I’d like to heel a few steers on that one.'"
At the time, they couldn't remember if the horse was 6 or 7, and Harrison really wanted him as a Futurity prospect. Baker's wife, Daci, clarified that he was in fact too old for the futurity as a 7-year-old, but Harrison wanted him anyway. Miles left the horse at Trevor's with Harrison that very day.
"He said he’d like to have him still to ride at the Finals," Miles said. "But I didn’t think it would happen this fast."
Daci shed some tears over the horse, because he'd been hers to show in ranch horse competitions. She'd cut, go down the fence, do reining patterns and steer stop on the horse—the same horse her husband used at the ranch rodeos, in the pasture and in the heeling.
"He’s super user-friendly," Miles said. "Daci, when she’d do her ranch horse deals, she could ride him for two or three weeks, cut on him, go down the fence and do a reining pattern. I’d get on him and heel on him and you could never tell she’d been cutting on him. He’s big and strong and fast. I think that's what Joseph liked about him."
The horse had been a part of the Baker family for three years, ever since Miles pulled him off Montana's Delon Parker's trailer.
"He was on a trailer that Jann Parker, who owns Billings Livestock, had coming through town," Miles said. "She bought the horse to put through the sale eventually. Delon, her nephew, unloaded him off the trailer at the house—he was on his way to ride the horse in Arizona or something."
He was just the kind Parker liked to own. Jann, with her late husband Bill Parker, built the Billings (Montana) Livestock Horse Sale operation decades ago on the backs of great ranch and rope horse geldings, just like Capone.
"I buy them, get them on good feed, get them over ulcers and get their feet fixed," Parker said. "At my house in Billings, there's always a pen of good geldings ready to go for my ropers' projects. They might be there two weeks, they might be there a year. And if Delon wants a project to rope on, he takes one."
Delon, for his part, had been riding the horse for about six months and knew he was a standout prospect.
"I got him in the middle of November of 2018," Delon remembered. "He wasn’t very broke to ride and he didn’t know much. I rode him for two months before I ever roped a steer, and he got very broke to ride very fast. He came a long ways very fast. I actually had a good friend of mine I called and told him this horse had some potential. I was going to sell him pretty reasonable. He came and looked at him and didn’t buy him. But January, I’d went to Arizona and was staying at Matt Robertson’s and roped on him all winter long. He progressed very fast, and I was jackpotting on him in the middle of February and was winning World Series on him by March."
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When Miles saw him, he decided right away he needed to have him.
"I saw him, and I was like 'Do you mind if I get on him?'" Miles said. "He had a big bushy mane and tail, and I rode him around and called my dad, and I told him he’s a good-feeling, classy-moving horse and told him he ought buy him and heel on him."
The senior Baker bought the horse, but eventually he ended up with Miles and Daci for Daci to show. He was so sweet and gentle to be around that Daci called him Sug.
But Miles stole him plenty, too, and he even won the "World's Richest Pasture Roping" on the horse. The entry fee for the roping was one 750-pound yearling and, for the win, Baker got 25 head of yearlings.
"He could do that, then Maci could go get on him bareback, spin him, stop him—he was awesome for her," Miles said. "Selling that one made me have to go buy back one I’d sold in the past. It was not a cheap trade for me. It would have been better to keep him."
Brown and Harrison have three steers left in their quest for both man's first gold buckle, and Harrison is keeping the option open of getting back on Street. But, if Street doesn't feel ready to go, there's a little bay ranch horse that's got his back. TRJ