Miles Baker and Zack Woods turned three steers in 17.0 seconds to capture the 2021 Ram Prairie Circuit Finals championship, held Oct. 14–16 in Duncan, Oklahoma.
Baker and Woods’ win came just days after the announcement of the new home of the NFR Open, previously known as the Ram Circuit Finals Rodeo. The NFR Open will take place in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on July 13–16. Baker is excited to showcase his talents on a new stage.
“It’s a big, wide open arena. Horsepower is going to play a huge part in it. I’m excited to go, for sure.”
Fortunately, horsepower is one area in which Baker, 29, is well-armed. He competed on two 5-year-olds, Firecracker and Toybox, throughout the 2021 season. However, with the ARFHA futurity planned a few days after the circuit finals, Baker was fearful of putting too many consecutive runs on the younger horses, so Mohawk got the call.
“We call him ‘Mohawk,’ because his mane was roached when we got him and, when it grew out, he had a Mohawk. Trevor [Brazile] had taken him to maybe one jackpot, and I had never ridden him for money before the circuit finals,” Baker said.
Mohawk is owned by Shada and Treston Brazile and is one of many competitive horses that the Relentless Remuda, Baker and Trevor Brazile’s legendary training program, boasts. As a trainer, Baker spends most of his days in the saddle, working all manner of horses, so the last-minute change-up to Mohawk was a non-issue.
“By the end of day, I’ve ridden every level of horse from 2-year-olds to open horses. It’s so diversified and a lot of fun to be able to start them as colts, take them to futurities and then win at rodeos on them,” Baker explained of his work.
Strategy was the key to success for Baker, and he had his eyes locked on his goal from the beginning of the 2021 season.
“I’m the epitome of a ‘circuit guy,’” Baker said. “I love going to rodeos, but I hate being gone. If I’m gone, I’m missing rides on our horses. To be able to go to a minimum number of rodeos and get to the circuit finals, win the average at circuit finals, go to an event like the NFR Open and have a shot at huge payouts without leaving the house very much, it’s great for somebody like me.”
With Woods, the plan was to make smooth runs and hang in with the pack each round. In round one, Baker stayed a touch off of the barrier to get a feel for it and held onto fourth in the round with a 5.5-second run. A tricky steer in round two almost hung the team up, but they stayed calm and collected and pulled through to split fourth with a 6.4-second run. With an outside chance at the average, they had to make a choice to gun for first place in round three, or to continue with their plan.
“Trevor said he liked our chances,” Baker said of a driveway pep talk he received from Brazile. “We were just far enough back that we could strike, but we didn’t have a target on our back. I still don’t know if he really liked where I was at, or if he was just trying to give me confidence.”
Baker and Woods drew a great steer in round three and decided to trust their plan. They placed third with a 5.1-second run and edged out the other average contenders with their combined 17 seconds on three head.
Despite his love of staying close to home, Baker may be seen at more PRCA rodeos in 2022. He and Brazile have high hopes for a few of this year’s futurity horses that are ready to be seasoned on bigger stages. Thanks to his success at the circuit finals, he is going to try his hand at some of the winter rodeos, as well.
For the many contestants waiting for their circuit finals to take place, Baker wants any ropers aspiring to win and punch their NFR Open tickets to know one thing: “We just made aggressive, jackpot-style runs. We went at them pretty good, but we knew we could make that run consistently. Don’t get overwhelmed trying to make sub-4-second runs. Just beat your cow every time. You’ll come out of there pretty tickled.”
Ram Prairie Circuit Finals
Duncan, Oklahoma,Oct. 14–16, 2021
1. Paul David Tierney and Tanner Braden, 4.3 second run, worth $1,901 each
2. Bubba Buckaloo and Rance Doyal, 4.8 secondr run, worth $1,426 each
3. Jake Clay and Billie Jack Saebens, 5.0 second run, worth $951 each
4/5. Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins II, worth $238 each
4/5. Miles Baker and Zack Woods, 5.5 second run, worth $238 each
1. Bubba Buckaloo and Rance Doyal, 4.8 second run, worth $1,901 each
2. Paul David Tierney and Tanner Braden, 5.5 second run, worth $1,426 each
3/4. Peyton Holliday and Kolton Good, 6.4 second run, worth $713 each
3/4. Miles Baker and Zack Woods, 6.4 second run, worth $713 each
1. Jake Clay and Billie Jack Saebens, 4.3 second run, worth $1,901 each
2. Curry Kirchner and Austin Rogers, 4.9 second run, worth $1,426 each
3. Miles Baker and Zack Woods, 5.1 second run, worth $951 each
4. Jesse Stipes and Casey Stipes, 5.2 second run, worth $475 each
1. Miles Baker and Zack Woods, 17.0 seconds on three head, worth $2,852 each
2/3. Paul David Tierney and Tanner Braden, 20.2 seconds on three head, worth $1,782 each
2/3. Bubba Buckaloo and Rance Doyal, 20.2 seconds on three head, worth $1,782 each
4. Jake Clay and Billie Jack Saebens, 9.3 seconds on two head, worth $713 each