LAS VEGAS – Shhh … Casey Colletti is dreaming, and it’s pretty good.
Colletti, a bareback rider from Pueblo, Colo., competing in his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, won Friday’s ninth
go-round with an 87.5-point ride on Smith Harper & Morgan’s Jessie’s Girl pocking $17,885 in the process. He has placed seven times in nine nights and earned $67,067.
“It’s just unreal,” said Colletti, who attended Garden City (Kan.) Community College on a rodeo scholarship. “It’s like a dream, and I don’t want to wake up.”
He’s got one more round to go and a significant amount of money on the line on Saturday night. In addition to the go-round payouts, a large check in the average is on the line for the most consistent bareback riders in the 10 nights of competition at the Thomas & Mack Center. He’s ridden well so far; he wants it to continue on the final night.
“I’d seen Royce Ford have her at Ogden (Utah) this year, and he was 89 points on her,” Colletti said of Jessie’s Girl. “I just loved her since that day. This is really a good place to have her. She felt phenomenal. What bareback riders dream of is that horse. It was just fun to show off and have a blast. Best day ever.”
The ride propelled Colletti to third in the average with a nine-round cumulative total of 744.5 points. The money moved him to fourth place in the world standings with $140,185, moving up from 10th.
“It’s pretty wild,” he said. “I never dreamed I’d place in seven of nine rounds.”
As he’s slept, though, his thoughts have always been part of this field – only the top 15 in the world standings at the conclusion of the regular season earn the right to compete in Las Vegas. It’s the home of the elite contestants in ProRodeo.
“I’ve dreamed about this forever,” he said.
Colletti is No. 2 in bareback riding earnings so far, and he trails only Kaycee Feild (first) and Bobby Mote (second) in the aggregate race – Mote is a four-time world champion, and Feild clinched the 2011 Montana Silversmiths gold buckle on Friday.
“Kaycee Feild has been riding tough all week,” Colletti said. “My hat’s off to that guy, he is a machine and, gosh, he’s hard to beat. It ended up working good for me, anyway.”
He’s been saying that throughout the NFR, with good reason.