Montana Silversmiths might as well ship the all-around champion buckle pre-printed with Trevor Brazile’s name on it.
The Decatur, Texas, cowboy will arrive in Las Vegas with a $140,019 lead on nearest challenger Shane Proctor, and Brazile will compete in two events while those in pursuit have qualified for just one at the Dec. 1-10 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
With 15 world titles to his credit, Brazile is poised to pass legendary roughstock hand Jim Shoulders for second most in PRCA history. That record ninth all-around crown will push him into a tie with Shoulders, who won five all-around buckles, seven bull riding crowns and four bareback riding titles for his total of 16.
A second title in Las Vegas would move Brazile to within one championship of steer roper Guy Allen for the most in the sport’s history at 18.
The biggest question hanging over Brazile at this point is whether he can claim a third world title in one season for the third time in the last five years. To make that happen, he’ll have to rope well in either the tie-down roping (where he trails Tuf Cooper by $53,297) or the team roping (he trails first-place header Derrick Begay by $48,426) during his 10-day stay in Las Vegas.
Considering he won $239,586 at the Wrangler NFR and the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping in 2010, nothing’s out of the question for Brazile.
Winning his third steer roping title in November put Brazile in position to win his third Triple Crown in five years. Should he leave Las Vegas with two more gold buckles, he’ll become just the second cowboy in ProRodeo history to win three Triple Crowns. Shoulders managed to win his three Triple Crowns in consecutive years from 1956-58. Brazile won his first in 2007 and added a second in 2010. Last year, he joined Everett Bowman (1935, 1937), in an elite group of two that has achieved the feat in different events. In 2007, Brazile won the all-around, tie-down roping and steer roping world titles. The second time around, he claimed the top spot in the all-around, tie-down roping and team roping heading.
In addition to the Triple Crown milestone, Brazile will also be looking to tie or break Billy Etbauer’s record for most rounds won in National Finals competition. Etbauer had 51 from 1989-2009, and Brazile is just three back at 48.
Those will be the primary bits of history the rodeo world will be focused on in the Thomas & Mack Center starting later this week, but it is by no means the only historical storylines worthy of consideration:
• J.W. Harris of Mullin, Texas, will be seeking to become the first bull rider to win four consecutive gold buckles since his mentor Don Gay did it from 1974-77 and just the fourth man in bull riding history to win four straight.
• Bobby Mote of Culver, Ore., is taking aim at his fifth world title, which would tie the record currently shared by Joe Alexander and Bruce Ford. Mote needs just $45,232 in Vegas to become the 18th cowboy to surpass $2 million in career earnings.
• Saddle bronc rider Taos Muncy of Corona, N.M., will be trying to become the fifth cowboy ever to win the Canadian and world championships in the same year, joining fellow bronc rider Mel Hyland (1972) and steer wrestlers Mark Roy (1992), Blaine Pederson (1994) and Lee Graves (2005).
• Jake Barnes of Scottsdale, Ariz., could tie the team roping record of eight world championships held by Speed Williams and Rich Skelton, if he and partner Walt Woodard could rise through the ranks and win the gold buckle. Barnes and Woodard would also be the oldest team in ProRodeo history to win the world championship, a combined age of 108 years; Barnes is 52 and Woodard turns 56 on Sunday.
• There are two events where there is a very strong possibility that rodeo fans will see the crowning of a second-generation world champion. Roy Cooper, the winner of eight gold buckles, has three sons in the tie-down roping field – Tuf (No. 1), Clint (No. 5) and Clif (No. 15). Bareback riding leader Kaycee Feild of Payson, Utah, is the son of five-time world champion Lewis Feild and Royce Ford is the son of five-time world champion Bruce Ford. They are all aiming to follow in the footsteps of the five previous father-son world champions: Deb and Jeff Copenhaver, John Sr. and John Jones Jr., John and Clark McEntire, Butch and Rope Myers and Bobby and Sid Steiner.
Watch GAC Exclusive WNFR Preview Shows Online
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