Tanner Tomlinson—the 2020 Resistol Rookie of the Year in the heading—is a much-anticipated South Texas talent that heelers dreamed of being able to get out and around to come tight behind.
Veteran and two-time World Champion Patrick Smith didn’t just dream about it, though. He invested in his young partner with his time, his mentorship, his career and his family.
That investment paid dividends when the pair came tight in 3.6 seconds on their Round 3 steer at the 2022 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, banking $28,913.70 a man for the fastest time of the week so far—just 0.3 seconds off the world record and the fastest time ever recorded in Round 3.
“To be fair to Tanner, he was going to do this without me either way,” Smith said. “But I’ve been able to help him skip some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way and some of the things I’ve learned and the mental game I’ve learned. I’ve been blessed to have great mentorship in my life, and I just want to pass it along to him.”
In return, Smith gets spins like the one Tomlinson gave him tonight, on the money steer in Hill Rodeo Cattle’s softest pen of cattle.
Going 3 in Round 3
“Anytime you hear that, there’s pressure,” Smith said of the “money steer” prediction. “When Tanner told me they said we had the money steer, and we’re going to win a bunch of money on him, I told him, ‘I hope we’re $29,000 of it tonight.’ So there was pressure. But the way the round was set up takes some of the pressure off you, too, because you know you have to try to go fast.”
Tomlinson and Smith were sixth out in the round, directly following Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves’ 3.8-second run, with two 4.3-second runs and a 4.1-second run on the board before them.
“I was real nervous for the first time in my life the first two nights,” Tomlinson said. “But watching Dustin go 3.8—there’s a 4.1, two 4.3s—it took the thinking out of it. I blacked out for a minute. Bobby Joe said we had the money steer, so I just got a good start and set it up and Patrick and Turbo had it finished. It was just a blessing.”
“I actually told myself when I backed in there tonight that I kind of had a feeling, with the way the round was going, what Tanner was going to do,” Smith added. “So I had made up my mind I wanted to give myself a little bit of space. I wanted to be off of the steer and not let myself get caught up tight.
“If you could draw up a run in this arena, that was it. Great start, fast head loop, short and tight, pulled him and opened him up and let me heel him and finish. When Turbo finished the run, Tanner and old Blue were standing there looking at me.”
It was the fastest run in Round 3 history.
Old Blue is the head horse Coy Rahlmann rode at the Finals in 2021; a 17-year-old grade blue roan gelding Rahlmann loaned Tomlinson for this debut Finals appearance.
“Blue is kind of like my old horse Ivy,” Tomlinson said. “He’s just real easy. You can do whatever on him. He scores phenomenal. If you need to pull a little bit, you can. He’s not real touchy. He’s laid back and easy. He don’t duck. He comes back up the wall and finishes, and that’s a big deal here.”
Smith, for his part, rode his 2022 Nutrena AQHA/PRCA Heel Horse of the Year, Kadabra Kid, who he calls Turbo.
Work in Progress
Tomlinson came to his first NFR with two goals: Get out of the barrier and turn 10 steers. The NFR crud got him down the first two nights but, even then, they were still 9.4 (leg) and 4.4, already pocketing $14,690.25 a man for Round 2. By the time Round 3 rolled around, Tomlinson was at the top of his game.
“I’ve just been resting and looking forward,” Tomlinson said. “I have been waiting for this my whole entire life. I was nervous the first two nights and, tonight, I took the thinking out of the process and it was a dream come true. I want to win a gold buckle with him, and finish his career on a good note.”
World Standings Race
Tomlinson and Smith moved back to fourth in the PRCA world standings with the win, having $160,971.93 won on the year each. Standings leaders Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira faltered for the first time this week, with Nogueira picking up a leg on a run that would have likely been out of the money anyway, but their nearest competitors also didn’t win anything in Round 3. Driggers has a $92,307 lead over No. 2 Clay Tryan, while Nogueira leads Jake Long by $100,577.
|TEAM||ROUND 3||NOTES||PLACE||EARNINGS PER MAN|
|Chad Masters and Joseph Harrison||4.3|
|JR Dees and Levi Lord||4.3||4 5 6||$8,083.40|
|Tyler Wade and Trey Yates||4.8||missed dally|
|Rhen Richard and Jeremy Buhler||4.1||3||$17,254.95|
|Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves||3.8||2||$22,851.15|
|Tanner Tomlinson and Patrick Smith||3.6||1||$28,913.70|
|Coleman Proctor and Logan Medlin||4.3||4 5 6||$8,083.40|
|Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins||5.9|
|Clay Smith and Jake Long||0||illegal catch|
|Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill||9.1||Leg|
|Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira||10.1||Leg|
|Jake Orman and Brye Crites||4.4||4 5 6||$8,083.40|
|Riley Minor and Brady Minor||0||Fished and lost it|
|Lightning Aguilera and Jonathan Torres||0||Header missed|
|Cody Snow and Wesley Thorp||0||Header missed|