If you’re going to jump ride, might as well jump ride the best.
The 2020 National Finals Rodeo Average Champion Paden Bray will steal a ride on Brady Minor’s Leos Highbrow, better known as “Sug,” to kick off the 2023 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Dec. 8 in the Thomas & Mack in Las Vegas.
The 18-year-old son of Scooter O Highbrow out of Leos Last Pokey by Prices Kris Leo, the 2020 PRCA/AQHA Heel Horse of the Year, has been a staple at the Thomas & Mack since Travis Woodard rode him there in 2016. Woodard then sold him to Brady Minor after the Minors won the 2017 American—where Minor caught a ride on Sug for the $100,000-a-man payday.
Earlier this fall, Bray flew to the Columbia River Circuit Finals to rope with Brenten Hall. He rode Sug there, and he won the third go round on him there with a 4.2. A few weeks later, Bray shot a text to Minor to ask if there was any chance he could do the same thing in Las Vegas.
“I said probably, but that meant I couldn’t ride him at the [Ariat World Series of Team Roping] Finale and that pays good, so I was indecisive,” Minor said. “I thought he had three good horses and didn’t need one, but he thought he wanted a veteran. So we made a deal, and I’ve been saving him for him.”
“I just kept thinking of that feel,” Bray added. “I watched all the NFRs with him, and I watched him work. He gave Brady the same look every single time. An older horse for the NFR, that’s what I needed. He knows what to do.”
Where did Sug come from?
Oklahoma’s DJ Mefferd bred Sug, and he eventually sold to heeler Kyle Crick.
“I bought him off the internet and met the people in Dalhart, Texas,” Crick said. “Jim Ross Cooper is one of my best friends, and he and I were trying to dabble in the horse business.”
They’d already run a lot of steers on him in the practice pen by the time BFI champ Travis Woodard came across him when Crick decided to slow down his roping schedule.
“He had a short tail and was kind of ugly looking,” Crick said. “So I didn’t really think anybody would want him. I just didn’t really have any use for him. But Travis came and looked at him, and he liked him.”
Woodard took the horse home for a few weeks to try, and decided he needed to have him.
“I thought he was a good colt and I bought him,” Woodard said. “He was gentle and he was smart. I rode him for a couple years, and they used to have those college rodeos at the Lone Star in Stephenville, and you could go twice at this little Open rodeo. I didn’t like my good horse at the time, and I was really really liking that colt. He wasn’t scared of the banner or the announcer or the music. I don’t think everybody else realized he was great until a couple years later, but when I started taking him there is when I realized he was going to be great.”
Woodard made the National Finals Rodeo on Sug in 2016, and with that goal accomplished, Woodard planned to slow down his rodeo schedule and spend more time with his family.
“I had another horse I really liked at the time,” Woodard explained. “So I decided I could sell him. I’d let Brady ride him at The American, and they ended up winning it.”
That was 2017—the year the Minors won $100,000 at The American.
“I was going to have to pay $25,000 mount money,” Brady said. “So I would have had to pay that if I didn’t buy him one way or another. It’s a good thing I did win that rodeo and was able to buy him, because I’d be regretting it now if I didn’t own him.”
That year, Minor estimates he won $400,000 on Sug, including $138,000 at that year’s NFR. Since then, Minor has made the Finals four more times on the horse and won $286,338 in the Thomas & Mack alone.
“He’s just been so solid,” Minor said. “He stands in the box perfect every time. He doesn’t make many mistakes. He’s got an average stop. It still seems to come tight fast. He’s real easy to come tight on.” TRJ