Jackpot Sense with Clay Smith
The sun wasn’t the only thing hot in Arizona this winter—Clay Smith won three of the biggest jackpots during the Arizona run, including the Mike Cervi Jr. Memorial in Marana worth $18,500 a man. He talks about what it took to rope smart over five head here.

1. We saw that steer come in, and he was small and light. I wanted to run pretty close and try to handle him for Will (Woodfin). These steers were smaller than normal, so the trick was to try to get out of the barrier good and keep them on their feet around the corner. Some would wipe out, so I really wanted to try to not hit them too hard. My horse, Marty, did a pretty good job, and he made it a lot easier. He stayed pretty free, which let me get the steer’s head and shoulders to come around for Will. Marty wouldn’t be everyone’s favorite, but he’s the best horse I’ve ever had. He lets me just go do my job, and in a jackpot situation like this, that’s critical.

2. All of my jackpot partners know that if I draw one without much horn, I go for the neck. I like roping bigger horns. Especially at a five-head jackpot, I won’t risk it and I’ll go for the neck every time. I’ll run closer to him, take an extra swing and take a little bit longer. I’ll try to handle him a little bit better when I have a neck. Will knows I’m going to do that, so he’s ready. In a five-head roping you can make up the time, though, when you want to be sure to get him caught.

3. This steer turned his head to the right just after I roped him. He wanted to handle funny. He stepped left and Will really heeled him well. He wanted to be phony with his head, so I tried to guide him around there. If I had just turned him when he was looking to the right, he could have wiped out. I wanted to guide his head around and keep his shoulders square and coming around to be sure to keep him on his feet.

4. By now, it was a really tight roping. There were quite a few teams right in the mix. We didn’t know anything about that steer but he looked good. He was really straight and just real honest. I got a really good start and threw from a coil back. Will heeled him really fast. He was a little bit bigger, and I could rope him and step out a little bit. I didn’t have to help him around the corner and he had just enough frame to make a normal run and not have to worry about him washing out. I could make a good, aggressive run heading into the short round. This is really the steer that won us the roping.

5. We were high team back. Luke (Brown) and Jade (Corkill) were third call back and were fast, but we had a second on them, so we had to be about 7.0. That was the best start I got all day, but not on purpose. I was trying to give him more, but he ended up better than I expected him to be. He had pretty small horns, but I had enough time to get close enough and make sure I could keep it on him. I eased him around there, and Will always catches when they pay big money. SWR

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