Despite having his right hand securely wrapped in his dally, Clay Smith faced in 4.4 seconds when Jade Corkill pulled back on their Round 2 steer, worth $26,230.77 a man.,
Smith and Corkill—who had a leg on their first steer for a 9.4—roped third to last in the round, with Clay Tryan and Jake Long's 4.6-second run in the lead.
[Read more: Corkill: New Horse, New Partner, New Perspective]
[Read more: 2018 World Champions Clay Smith and Paul Eaves]
"I didn't feel like I did a very good job really," Smith said. "I kind of got not a great start. I messed my dally up, and I quit riding my horse. I haven't seen the run back. I don't know what happened. I throttled through there. The next thing I know the steer was right beside me, I roped, and next thing I know I had my hand in it—just a finger. I didn't set it up very good, and I looked back and he had him roped."
Corkill, for his part, never realized his partner was risking a finger for their run.
"When we got out the back, he was kind of holding his hand," Corkill said. "I didn't know what happened. I just thought he kind of held up because the steer handled really good."
The risk was worth it this time, as Smith was no worse for the wear, and Smith maintained his number-one spot in the PRCA world standings and Corkill stepped into first in the world as well. Smith now has $186,742.99 won on the year, and Corkill has $144,868.70. Smith is ahead of number-two man Kaleb Driggers by $44,185.13, and Corkill leads Nogueira by $4,991.48.
Corkill, who won a gold buckle in 2012, 2013 and 2014, made a veteran adjustment for Round 2 to keep himself from roping another leg.
"Tonight I stood a little farther up in the box," Corkill explained. "Every time I come here, I know I need to get going, but it's so hard to make yourself go as early as you can go. Our steer, in the run-through deal, he didn't start good. I asked Clay if he thought he'd start a little better. I told him I'd try to get a better start, and I stood up in the box and I just went. If I stop one, I guess I'll stop one. But I'm not going to be late again."
Smith was of course on his grade, 12-year-old gray gelding Marty, aboard whom he's dominated all year.
"I feel like his mind has gotten better," Smith said of the horse he rode to his 2018 gold buckle, the same horse he placed at the US Finals on as a 4-year-old. "I'm real thankful and blessed to have him."
Corkill rode Huey, the 10-year-old sorrel that came from Travis Graves. This is the horse's first time under the bright lights of Las Vegas.
"He has taken it all pretty good," Corkill said. "He's been a little bit hurt. I've been riding hime very day to try to get him sharpened back up and in better shape. But he feels good still, so I'm going to stay with him unless something goes bad."
Corkill won two go-rounds in 2017 heeling for Tryan, and the pair won the average en route to his 2014 world title. Smith won two rounds in 2018 en route to his gold buckle, finishing third in the average with Paul Eaves.
Smith is in the all-around race as well with $197,594.65 won on the season, and is just $21,635.35 behind leader Stetson Wright. Wright won Round 1 but didn't place in Round 2 of the bull riding. Tuf Cooper is third and $27,839.09 behind Smith.
Early in the week, Riley and Brady Minor are tied with Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira for first in the average with a 9.4 on two. Brenten Hall and Chase Tryan are third with a 9.6 on two, and Ty Blasingame and Travis Graves are fourth with 10.5 on 2. TRJ
1. Clay Smith and Jade Corkill, 4.4, $26,230.77 each
2. Clay Tryan and Jake Long, 4.6, $20,730.77 each
3. Riley and Brady Minor, 4.7, $15,653.85 each
4/5/6. Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira, 4.8, $7,333.33
4/5/6. Tate Kirchenschlager and Tyler Worley, 4.8, $7,333.33
4/5/6. Jake Cooper and Caleb Anderson, 4.8, $7,333.33