The world all-around race took a couple of twists and turns after the 2020 National Finals Steer Roping, and this one really is up in the air riding into the December 3-12 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. Before the NFSR, reigning World Champion All-Around Cowboy Stetson Wright had the upper hand. But with $25,903 and $69,072 in NFSR earnings, respectively, Tuf Cooper and his Cowboy King brother-in-law, Trevor Brazile, passed Wright and are ranked 1-2 right now in one of 2020’s most closely contested world championship races.

Brazile brought down the 2020 NFSR house earlier this month and won both back-to-back NFSR average and gold buckles. While working at the Kansas Star in Mulvane, Kansas, Trevor picked up yet another pair of unparalleled achievements when he passed the $7 million marker in career earnings, and won his 26th world title.

Learn more with Trevor Brazile, click here.

But the winningest cowboy of all time will not be in contention for another all-around championship when we get to Globe Life Field next month, because his competitive rodeo year is now over. Captain Relentless will be watching from the stands with the rest of us for the second-straight year. And he’s looking forward to it.

“It’s the best rodeo in the world, and I’ll be there every night to watch it with the rest of rodeo’s biggest fans,” said Trevor, who lives about 50 miles from Arlington in Decatur. “People ask me if it’s hard for me to sit there and watch. I think you would have to know the amount of pressure that’s been on me at the Finals and year-round for so long—which got worse as my career went—to understand why I’m fine watching now. Even at the little rodeos, people would tell me it was the first time they’d gotten to see me compete live. I didn’t want to let anyone down, so I felt like I had to deliver every time I rode into that Thomas & Mack Arena (the NFR’s Las Vegas home).

“Not that I haven’t loved the competition throughout my career, because I have. But it was so nice watching last year. The only time I enjoyed myself when I was competing was when I executed up to my expectations. It was really fun to watch, no matter who won. And I’m looking forward to getting to do it again.”

It’s not that there’s no dog in the fight, with family in the middle of this friendly feud. All-around front-runner Tuf, who was the world all-around champ in 2017, is also a three-time world champion tie-down roper. Cooper has $111,450 won in the world all-around race before Arlington, followed by Brazile’s $94,803 (that’s just $16,647 behind Tuf), Wright’s $86,584 (which is $24,866 behind Cooper) and Clay Smith’s $80,737 ($30,713 behind Tuf). That might seem like a Fab Four of all-around contenders, but without the NFR, Brazile is out of bullets.

Clay Smith heading for Jade Corkill at the 2019 Wrangler NFR.

Clay Smith is currently fourth in the 2020 ProRodeo All-Around race with $80,737 in season earnings. 

Tuf has the tie-down roping and Clay has the team roping—he’ll head for Jade Corkill. He with the most cards in his hand is saddle bronc riding, bull riding Wright, who’s the only two-event qualifier in the crew. It’s not yet set in stone, but if the NFR payoff stays at $6 million, go-rounds at the 2020 NFR will pay $15,738.46, and the average will be worth $40,361.54.

That said, whether the PRCA pulls off the full $10 million payoff or not, points will be awarded in the world championship race at the regular $10 million rate. Translation: If the payoff is $6 million, you’ll be paid $15,738.46 for winning a round, but will get $26,230.77 worth of points in the world standings. You’ll get an actual check for $40,361.54 if you win the average, but will still rack up $67,269.23 worth of world championship points that would come with a $10 million payoff.

No Backing Off with Clay Smith

“I hate to Captain Obvious, but the guy who’s competing twice at the Super Bowl of Rodeo should be the clear favorite,” Trevor said. “That said, there are a couple of reasons why I don’t think anybody better count Tuf or Clay out of the all-around conversation. If I’m an odds-maker in Vegas, Stetson’s opportunity at double the money of the other two contenders is obvious. But while anything can happen in any event at any time, the odds are also against a guy competing on 20 head of roughstock where the best bucking stock and the best cowboys are going head-to-head when it comes to staying healthy all 10 rounds.

“That, in my opinion, would be the hardest part of the oddsmakers’ job this year. Stetson’s less than a go-round behind, and that’s hardly an insurmountable lead. The timed-event contestants definitely have their work cut out for them. But besides Stetson having a higher risk of getting hurt, the small changes in the timed-event score (the tie-down score is tentatively three feet under/one foot longer than at the Thomas & Mack assuming the box dimensions stay the same, and the team roping score will be two feet under/two feet longer than in Vegas) will be in both Tuf and Clay’s favor.

“Tuf’s so athletic, and the longer the score, the more he shines because of that athletic ability, no matter what he rides. Clay plans to ride his gray horse, Marty. Clay knows that horse like the back of his hand, and I think Marty will be even better at Globe Life than he is at the Thomas & Mack.”

Though the left wall will not be a factor, like it is at the Thomas & Mack, Brazile will not be surprised if steers start heading left before the week’s over.

“With the score two feet longer, steers will see the heeler long before they see the header,” Trevor said. “It’ll be interesting to see how that affects things as it all plays out. There are always a lot of unknowns when you take a big event into a new venue. But one thing’s for sure, and that’s that it’ll be good watching. And there’s no bigger rodeo fan than me.”

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