When Junior Nogueira was a kid growing up roping in Brazil, already busy winning motorcycles and cash at the country’s biggest ropings, he and his friends would spend their down time watching roping DVDs—like Las Vegas’ Hork Dog Classic.
So when he got to compete there for the first time in 2014, he made the most of the living-the-dream moment. He won it with fellow young-gun Tom Richards, pocketing $20,000 for winning the jackpot in 28.33 seconds, riding his gelding, Little Man.
“I was a little nervous,” Nogueira said. “We needed to be 4.96, and in my mind I thought we were 5-something. Then I looked at the clock and I thought Tom must have broke the barrier. But then everyone started cheering and clapping, and it was very big for me.”
The money came at a time when the then-PRCA rookie needed it most—heading into the California run, followed by a busy summer that would launch Nogueira into his first WNFR.
“At that time, the money really helped me on the road because I didn’t have any sponsors or anything,” Nogueira said. “Summer time was coming and it was very important. I love that roping. It’s an amazing roping and it pays really good. It’s a tough roping, too. Everybody is roping fast and enters more than once. I don’t just love it because I’ve done good the last two years. It’s really famous in Brazil.”
Nogueira finished second this year at the Hork Dog, pocketing another $14,125 in Las Vegas cash. In the 2015 edition of the Hork Dog, Nogueira rode his new horse—a 7-year-old gelding he calls Green Card