Big Break

Their Big Break: When Todd and Graves Won the 2007 Wildfire Open to the World 
The Wildfire Open to the World win saved the season early on for Colter Todd.
Colter Todd roping with Travis Graves at the Wildfire Open to the World in 2007.
Colter Todd and Frisco spin a Wildfire winning steer for Travis Graves and Superstar in 2007. | Gabe Wolf photo

Colter Todd was hot off his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualification when he rolled into Salado, Texas, for the Wildfire Open to the World—his third time appearing at the $75,000-added event. 

Coming from Willcox, Arizona, Todd had never had an ounce of luck at The Wildfire. But that all changed in front of Travis Graves.

“Stuff hadn’t been going well as far as financially,” said Todd, now the reigning NFR average champ on the heel side. “I’d just got done not doing any good at San Antone, and I was fighting with going home financially and not being able to keep rodeoing. I was trying to figure out if I was going back to my job with the Potters, and I had some horses I could have gone and shod that day instead, so I was deciding whether or not to jackpot or go shoe horses. But like a team roper, I went to the jackpot.”

They were fourth callback that day, and Todd—who, when heading, has a tendency to press—took an aggressive roll at the barrier. 

“It was either going to be or it wasn’t,” Todd, 23 back in 2007, said. “I was comfortable either way.”

The $37,500-a-man payday was “insane money” for Todd at the time, who had a wife and 2-year-old daughter at the time of the win. 

“I remember after not doing good at San Antone laying in the trailer frustrated,” Todd said. “The other thing, the Wildfire fees were $800 a man. When you’re young, those are expensive fees. It don’t seem like nothing anymore. I was almost praying about whether I go up and put up $1,600. In your mind, you think, ‘Do I enter the jackpot or do I go a little farther and stretch it out rodeoing?’”

But winning that money put Todd back in the game, and he’d go on to make the Finals again that year with his first partner, Cesar de la Cruz. They’d finish third in the world standings with $165,790 won. Along the way, he’d keep jackpotting (and winning) with Graves. 

“TG was a great second partner,” Todd said. “He was more like another first partner, and we did good. Him and I were good friends and a good team, too.” 

Graves would win the Wildfire twice more, and he was riding Superstar, the horse he built the first half of his career aboard. Todd, for his part, was on Frisco, the buckskin gelding he made his first two Finals on, too.

Travis Graves and Colter Todd holding suitcases filled with paper money and trophy buckles
Travis Graves and Colter Todd. | Gabe Wolf photo


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