OKLAHOMA CITY – Sometimes karma works out quite well; just ask Blair Burk.
The Oklahoma cowboy returned to his old stomping grounds at Jim Norick Arena and found it to his liking on Saturday afternoon. Burk, of Durant, Okla., roped and tied his calf in 8.5 seconds to take the second-round lead in tie-down roping and move closer to his goal of winning the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo.
“Competing here at the State Fair Arena is really a special feeling for me,” said Burk, a 14-time qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo whose father, Barry, was a 16-time NFR qualifier who was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1994. “My dad and them all competed here. My Uncle Roy is in the stands. They’ve all competed here in the National Finals.
“It’s been a great arena for me. I’ve won the world championship horse show here on the horse Sweetness. I’ve roped a lot in this arena.”
Being able to compete in the historic arena is just one of the motivating factors for Burk to compete in his home region, the Columbia River Circuit – even though he lives in southeastern Oklahoma, Burk claims the region in the Northwest because it’s close to his in-laws and because he spends so much time in that part of the country.
“My wife is from Oregon, and we go up there and stay all summer,” he said. “I made it a priority to do well in my circuit because I wanted to be right here in Oklahoma City this day and competing for this prize money right here in front of my hometown fans. They moved the circuit finals here, and that’s why I told my wife I wanted to make it a priority.”
Burk’s two-run total of 19.6 seconds has him third in the aggregate. He needs to remain near the top if he wants to continue to battle for his first national championship on Sunday – only the top eight in each event advance to the semifinals.
“I rode a young horse in the first round,” Burk said. “The stress the noise and everything and the competition here was a little bit too much for him. I had to get on an old veteran today, TC. He’s been here and done it all. He’s just what I needed to tie one fast.”
He’ll wait through Saturday night’s fourth performance to complete the second go-round to see how he finishes in the round payout and if he can move into the round of eight. It helps that TC is one of the best horses in the business, voted as such last year by the ProRodoe tie-down ropers.
“He’s just a winner,” Burk said of TC. “He’s just a horse that lets you win. He does his job and lets you go fast.”