Big Break

The Minors’ Big Break
Riley and Brady Minor won the 2004 US Open at the USTRC’s National Finals of Team Roping long before they were household names. Here’s how the win changed the trajectory of their careers.
Brady and Riley Minor team roping at the 2004 US Open.
Brady was just 19 and Riley was only 16 when they won $70,000 at the US Open in 2004, setting them up to buy the Arizona land they own to this day. | USTRC file photos by Brenda Allen

Riley and Brady Minor are now 11- and 13-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifiers with nearly $4 million in ProRodeo earnings between the Ellensburg, Washington, brothers. 

But before they were “The Minors”—now the longest-running team in the professional ranks—they were some kids, Riley, 16, and Brady, 19, who showed up at the USTRC’s National Finals of Team Roping in Oklahoma City and put a whooping on the big dogs for a $70,000 payday. 

“I wouldn’t have entered if I didn’t think I have a chance to win something,” Riley, now 35, said. “But I had no idea I would be high callback against all the pros I had always looked up to.” 

They started the day off with a near-barrier-breaking 5.58-second run to win the first round, and they never looked back.

“I remember walking down that tunnel before I roped that last steer; I was so nervous I couldn’t even spit,” Riley said. “I remember that like it was yesterday. Catching that high teamer and winning that deal gave a guy confidence that he could rope with the best in the world.” 

Riley rode Ogie, a hand-me-down head horse he got from his grandpa—a horse that would eventually carry him into his ProRodeo career—while Brady rode Dugout, the horse he rode for nearly a decade after that, who last appeared on the ProRodeo stage in 2017 with Travis Graves at Pendleton. Dugout is still fat and happy at the Minor’s place in Ellensburg.

“I put part of that money toward property in Arizona, back when land didn’t cost so much an acre,” Riley said. “Brady invested his in land, too, and I think we both were able to get 2.5 acres with those winnings.” TRJ

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