Brothers Riley and Brady Minor bounced back from a regular season mired by bad luck to win the Columbia River Circuit Finals in Hermiston, Oregon, worth $4,034.84 a man plus a spot at the Kissimmee, Florida Ram National Circuit Finals in April 2021.
The Ellensburg, Washington brothers—who each finished 23rd in the PRCA world standings with $36,096.58 and missed a National Finals Rodeo qualification for the first time since 2012—are also coming off a win the week prior at the Gold Buckle Beer Tour Finale in Rapid City, South Dakota, worth $7,779 each.
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"We were just glad to have a rodeo," Brady, 36, said."Nobody knew if they were going to have it or what it was going to pay. In our circuit, we only had three regular rodeos and three co-approved rodeos, and we had to win a check. We got a check at New Plymouth, Idaho, and Redmond, Oregon, and we were just hoping to get a shot at Kissimmee."
The Minors won the first round with a 4.2-second run, worth $1,241 each, and they won second in the second round with a 4.8-second run worth $931. Their first-place checks for their aggregate time of 9.0 seconds on two head were for $1,862 each.
"I was thinking to be aggressive and the fastest time got to go last on the second day," Riley, 32, said. "(Jeff) Flenniken and Garrett Rogers were ahead of me in the circuit, so I wanted to beat them in the first round, and I'd know what I had to do on the second one. That worked out luckily, and I had to be 6.3 to beat Garrett. He beat us by like $300 for the three or six rodeos total for the year end."
Brady guesses he and his brother have won their Circuit Finals or year end four or five times, with Brady qualifying every year since 2004 and Riley making it each year since 2007.
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"I contemplated unofficial-ing the rodeo because I didn't know if it would pay $400-$500," Brady said. "But evidently the PRCA had a fund, and it was only two head so the money wasn't split up as much. There were 12 checks instead of 16. We know what Kissimmee pays, and we haven't won good there yet but I know the possibility of it. It was a real big deal for us to win the average there and get a chance at $20,000 next April."
Because of the rodeos' significance for the 2021 season—as the money counts for next year's PRCA world standings and the RNCFR pays so well, too—both brothers opted to ride their NFR mounts, RK Tuff Trinket (Bob) for Riley and Leos Highbrow (Sug) for Brady.
"If Bob is there, I'm riding him," Riley said. "Even though it wasn't going to pay good, if we made it to Florida it was worth it, especially on a year when we haven't made much money I'll ride him every time I can. I think I rode him at all of the 40-or-so rodeos we went to."
"Sug's 15 and he acts like he's 8," Brady said. "I don't know if I feed him too good or what, but he acts as fresh today as the day I bought him, which is a good sign."
Brady and his wife Ashley just had their second child—a girl, Mesa Jeanne—August 15, and Riley and wife Jordan are expecting another little girl in November. Both families will plan to winter in Wittman, Arizona, and hit the road together again in 2021. TRJ