Lorenzo Carbajal: From Working in South Point Stalls to Winning Highest-Paying Roping in History
"I told myself, ‘One day I’ll be up here just to win this thing.’ And I did."
Lorenzo Carbajal leads the victory lap after winning $400,000 with his dad, Antonio.
Lorenzo Carbajal leads the victory lap after winning $400,000 with his dad, Antonio. | Jennings Photography

Lorenzo Carbajal, 31, became the winningest roper of the Ariat World Series of Team Roping Finale when on Dec. 15, 2023, he won $400,000 heading in the Ariat #9.5 Finale with his father, Antonio. The win came five years after the first time Lorenzo won $350,000 in the #9.5 Finale in 2018, that time on the heels. To date, the Wittman, Arizonan is the only roper in the 17-year history of the Finale to win the same roping on both ends and to have earnings in excess of $375,000.

Q: You and your dad seemed to have a pretty consistent run across the four rounds in this year’s #9.5. I know you work with your dad; do you also get to practice together often?

A: We practice as much as we can. If we can do it every day, we do it every day. When he wants to go practice, I ride with him to work, so we just get in the same truck and go get the horses and go practice.

In the short-go, the men ran their fastest time of the day and won the fast time in the round.

Q: Did your dad also grow up roping?

A: No. He grew up around horses [in Mexico], and when he came here to Arizona before I was born, he started learning how to rope and he just stuck to it. He’s been doing a good job and winning a lot. He won trucks in March, so it’s been a blessing.

Q: After you and your dad won the roping, you told us that you have six sisters and two brothers. Does everyone rope?

A: My mom, her name is Irasema Porras, she doesn’t ride, but she does like to feed and water the horses, and she’ll take the horses to the roping for us if we don’t have time because of work. But most of my brothers and sisters rope, too. I have a Paint horse and, a week before we went to the Finale, he got crippled, so my sister let me borrow her horse.

Q: But your dad was riding the same horse on which you won the #9.5 in 2018, right?

A: Yes. I got him when he was 3 years old, and I made him myself.

Q: In your interview after winning the roping, you mentioned you used to work in the stalls at the South Point during the Finale. How did that opportunity come about?

A: Mardell McKnight is the one down here who signed me up to work there, and that was pretty fun. I did it for two or three years, maybe 2014, 2015 and 2016; I don’t really remember. But I told myself, ‘One day I’ll be up here just to win this thing.’ And I did it in 2018 and did it again now.

Q: What a journey to go from being behind the scenes to being on the big stage and handed a winning check. So, now being the winningest roper in the history of the Finale, do you have any advice for someone else who’s maybe looking at the event and telling themselves, ‘I’m going to do that one day’?

A: They gotta keep their head high and just keep roping. You’ll make it one day and win. You gotta keep hustling and keeping your mind toward winning.

Antonio with his wife, Irasema Porras, and Lorenzo and his wife, Alex, are joined by some of the Carbajal family that could travel to Las Vegas to support the team at the Finale. | Jennings Photography

Q: A lot of your family made it to the Finale with you and your dad, including your wife, Alex. Had she been to the event before?

A: No. It was her third time in Vegas, but she’d never been to the Finale. It blew her mind. She didn’t know what to expect, all the people and everything. She was just excited.

Q: Understandably. And now that you’ve had a couple days to let it sink in, how are you feeling?

A: I’m feeling pretty good. I’m back to work. I didn’t go to work [Monday] just to get some stuff figured out, but then it was back to work. TRJ

The mega-payout was a first for Antonio, but this is the second winning check Lorenzo has won in the #9.5 Finale.
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