LAS VEGAS – Caleb Bennett likes the way things are going so far during his business venture to the City of Lights.
Over the course of the first two of 10 go-rounds, the Morgan, Utah, cowboy has a round victory and a share of sixth place, the latter of which happened Friday night when he spurred the Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo horse Fancy Free for 82 points. That was worth $1,502.
In all, though, Bennett has pocketed $20,132 at the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. That’s a great two days’ work, but it’s just the beginning right.
“This start is a lot better than last year,” said Bennett, now in his second straight NFR qualification. “I feel like I’m riding a little bit stronger and better than last year. I couldn’t be more tickled. I just want to keep the ball rolling the way it’s going.”
It’s going pretty well for the cowboy who entered ProRodeo’s championship No. 15 in the world standings. He’s already moved up to 10th – in rodeo, dollars equal points, and the cowboy with the most money at the conclusion of the NFR will be crowned world champion. Each of the last two seasons, the gold buckle has found a home in Utah with Payson cowboy Kaycee Feild; Bennett would like it to return, but with his name engraved on the wearable trophy.
“I’m going to try to place in every round,” he said. “I’m going to try to make that a goal and hopefully get a couple more go-round buckles.”
That’s what it takes. In order to do that, though, he’s going to continue to ride as well as he has the first two nights. On Friday, he put on a strong spur ride on Fancy Free, a horse he’d never seen before.
“I’ve seen a lot of guys win money on her,” Bennett said of the bay mare. “I knew she could be a little more of a handful. On that third or fourth jump, I felt her try to pull on my. I realized this wasn’t going to be a day off and that I’d better take care of business.”
He did. He made a few in-ride adjustments that worked.
“When you feel a horse pull on you, I just automatically squeeze my hand a little harder, grit my teeth a little more and spur a little bit harder,” he said.
He may have to do that Saturday in the third round, when he is matched against Frontier Rodeo’s Delta Ship.
“I got on him last year at the NFR, and he dang near bucked me off,” Bennett said. “I owe him one, so this is revenge.”
Call it revenge or call it confidence, but Bennett is out to make a statement in Las Vegas.