LAS VEGAS – The first time Wise Guy led a cowboy to first place in a Wrangler National Finals Rodeo came nine seasons ago when eventual world champion Kelly Timberman posted an 87-point ride on the great bay gelding.
On Thursday night, Wise Guy wrapped a stellar career by leading Utah cowboy Caleb Bennett to the bareback riding victory during the first round of the 2013 NFR. The two athletes matched moves for 85.5 points in Wise Guy’s last trip inside the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, where the storied bronc will be retired from ProRodeo competition.
“I was hoping they’d retire him tonight and I’d be the last one to get on him,” Bennett told the PRCA, referring to the Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo bucking machine. “He’s been a great horse.”
Yes, he has. In fact, Bennett earned $18,630 for Thursday’s ride. Over the 16 times Wise Guy has bucked at the NFR, he has led cowboys to eight round titles and has helped them pocket $228,534.
“He is actually one of the horses to have in this round based off everybody else’s talk,” Bennett said. “I knew if I did my part, he’d dang sure take me to the pay window.
“I’m probably not going to quit smiling for a little bit.”
It was a great way to kick-start the NFR, with Bennett and Wise Guy being the first out of the chutes of the 10-day championship.
“I was jacked up watching Caleb be a bunch of points on Wise Guy for the last time ever,” said fellow bareback rider Casey Colletti, who posted an 83.5-point ride of his own to finish in a three-way tie for fourth place. “Watching Caleb’s ride brought me back down, and I realized, ‘Yeah, now’s the time for me to come out and spur horses.’ ”
That’s exactly what Bennett did. Based on the 100-point scale, half the score is given to the horse, while the other half is based on how well the cowboy makes the spur ride in time with the animal’s bucking action.
“I’ve been watching that horse on TV since I was probably 10 years old,” he said. “I’m 25 now, so I’ve been watching him for a long time.
“That’s an amazing feeling. Growing up, those sure are the kind of horses guys dream of getting on.”
The dream career is now over for Wise Guy. He will return to east Texas, where he will enjoy the finer comforts of life afforded to champions.