The notes on Tyler Wade and Trey Yates’ fourth-round steer weren’t great.
But that didn’t matter much to Tyler Wade.
“I’ve got the best one,” he said as he swung his Powerline Lite and strolled out to the Thomas & Mack alley to get on Espuela Bro—the 14-year-old gelding he calls Spur—to ride into the box first out.
Best one or not, Wade, 30, and Yates, 27, made it work. The flag fell in 3.9 seconds, and in the toughest pen of steers of the week—the same pen that saw six no-times in Round 1—the time held through 14 more teams.
“That steer handled good in the run through,” Wade, who’s roping at his fifth Finals, said. “He was pretty good.”
When Yates saw the video of the steer in the run through, he was stoked at the way the steer hanged on the end of the rope—giving him a chance to heel fast.
“Just being first out kind of takes the thinking out of it,” Wade said. “For some reason, I hate being first, but we’ve done really good going first. I tend to overthink it sometimes but if the round is easy, I’ll go take whatever place they give me instead of try to win one of the top three holes.”
Wade got a good start and put it on the steer fast—around the neck, of course, a shot Wade is known for. Just to be sure. And Yates didn’t blink.
“I got around him and put a lot of loop down there and we had a good finish,” Yates, at his third NFR, said. “It doesn’t matter—when you’re in this field of ropers—how fast you are. There are teams who are very capable of beating you. We made a good run on a great steer, and we had to sit and wait. We gritted our teeth, and it worked out.”
Wade, too, was more nervous after the run than he was before it.
“I was sweating through 14 teams,” Wade said. “You can go 3.9, 3.4, whatever. Maybe it wasn’t that way 10 years ago—I felt like there were half the teams you had to watch out for. Now, it’s so hard to get here, and everybody ropes so good, there’s not a soul who gets here who can’t be 3.”
Tyler Wade and Trey Yates’ Horsepower
Wade was back and forth all week before the Finals, deciding between riding his great horse Spur and his younger mare, Butter.
“My wife and I talked, and Spur gets a little bit tight if you don’t ride him correctly,” Wade said. “If you ride him right, he feels great the whole time.”
Determined to ride correctly, Wade has been on Spur through four rounds. He’ll hop on Butter if he feels like he needs to later in the week to stay in the average. After Round 4, Wade and. Yates are currently sixth with three of four down in 14.10 seconds.
The decision was a bit easier for Yates. He won the average on the 2009 gelding by Chic Please out of AQHA Superhorse RS Lilly Starlight, by Grays Starlight. Despite access to many of the greatest heel horses in team roping, Yates has stuck to Dude throughout his NFR career.
“Dude fits me like a glove,” Yates said. “All I brought was him and my pony Black Betty for the grand entry. So I have no intention of switching.”
Yates’ Accident Prevention
In Round 3, as things got fast, Yates’ had a mishap that slowed down his dallying and took the duo out of the money in a tough go round.
“The sleeve of my shirt got stuck on the top of my saddle horn as I was trying to dally, so tonight I got some Johnson & Johnson black tape and taped up so there was no chance of that happening,” Yates said. “Even though it was a one-in-a-million chance, I didn’t want to take that chance again for this much money.”
World Standings Race
Despite a leg in Round 4, reigning World Champions Kaleb Driggers, 32, and Junior Nogueira, 32, still picked up $4,663.50 a man for sixth in the round with an 8.8-second run. That moved them to $274,486.32 each in earnings on the year, just $15,000 shy of the season earnings record Clay Smith and Paul Eaves set in 2018.
Tanner Tomlinson, 22, and Patrick Smith, 42, stayed steady in Round 4, winning fifth with a 5.0-second run worth $7,461.60 a man. That moved them to first in the average when Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins took their first no-time of their partnership in the Thomas & Mack Dec.4. Tomlinson and Smith are now 22.40 on four head. Smith, as his 13th NFR, won the average in Las Vegas in 2003 and 2008. This is Tomlinson’s first NFR. Smith is now third in the PRCA world standings with $168,433.53, while Tomlinson is fourth with the same amount.
|TEAM||ROUND 4||NOTES||PLACE||EARNINGS PER MAN|
|Tyler Wade and Trey Yates||3.9||1||$28,913.70|
|Rhen Richard and Jeremy Buhler||0||Header missed|
|Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves||8.9||leg|
|Tanner Tomlinson and Patrick Smith||5||5||$7,461.60|
|Coleman Proctor and Logan Medlin||9.2||leg|
|Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins||0||Header missed|
|Clay Smith and Jake Long||33.4||Crossfire|
|Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill||0||Header missed|
|Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira||8.8||leg||6||$4,663.50|
|Jake Orman and Brye Crites||4.5||2||$22,851.15|
|Riley Minor and Brady Minor||10.1||leg|
|Lightning Aguilera and Jonathan Torres||4.7||3 4||14,689.50|
|Cody Snow and Wesley Thorp||0||Heeler missed|
|Chad Masters and Joseph Harrison||0|
|JR Dees and Levi Lord||4.7||3 4||14,689.50|