LAS VEGAS – Bray Armes must like Las Vegas.
A year ago, the Ponder, Texas, cowboy – competing at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the first time – earned more than $85,000. He’s well on his way to matching, and possibly exceeding, that total at this year’s championship.
On Wednesday night, Armes manhandled his steer to the ground in 3.9 seconds to finish runner-up in the seventh go-round, earning $14,724 in the process. He has earned $37,660. Most importantly, his seven-run cumulative time of 31.5 seconds is the best among bulldoggers, and he has a 2.7-second lead over the No. 2 man in the average, Casey Martin.
Martin leads the world standings race with more than $129,000. Armes has moved from 14th on the money list to eighth. Should Armes remain No. 1 in the average race, he’ll pocket a $47,776 bonus, but second place pays $38,762 – that means Martin holds an advantage.
“It would be awesome to win the average, but I’m for that gold buckle,” said Armes, who grew up in Gruver, Texas. “I need to get a lot of money in the go-rounds, so that’s what I’m going for. I’m just going to keep throwing them down and see what happens.”
That’s worked quite well so far. The powerful Texan has placed in four go-rounds. The steer he ran Wednesday had a pretty good track record, so he knew there was something special brewing before he backed into the timed-event chute.
“He runs real hard, but I knew if I got a good start, I dang sure could place on him,” he said. “I got a great start, and he fell off to the right on me. (Hazer) Riley Duvall did a great job bringing him back to me. I got my hands on him, slowed down and dumped him over.”
Of course, a big part of that is having the right mental approach. After admitting that he had been letting the pressure of the moment get to him, Armes has changed his focus. It’s been rather beneficial.
“I’m a lot more relaxed, just letting it happen,” he said.