Steven Peebles is making a serious run at his first world championship and is trying to knock off four-time reigning titlist Kaycee Feild in bareback riding.
With two rounds remaining at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Peebles earned his fourth go-round buckle Thursday night with an 89.5-point ride. What makes it more impressive is that it happened in the “eliminator” pen of bucking horses, matching moves with past Bareback Horse of the Year Full Baggage of Frontier Rodeo. The second-place ride in the round was Seth Hardwick’s 80.5 Powder River Rodeo’s Craig at Midnight.
Peebles owns a 37-point lead over Feild in the average. Feild, who has won the last four NFR average titles, sits third after his 67-point ride in the eighth go-round. Hardwick is second in the aggregate, but he’s well behind Peebles.
As of Thursday night, Peebles trails Feild by less than $10,000. The difference from first to third in the average is $24,115. With go-round winners earning $26,231 a night, there is room for Feild to make a move toward his fifth straight gold buckle.
But if things continue in this fashion, Peebles will outlast Feild for the 2015 title.
As always, the steer wrestling race will come down to the final night. Clayton Hass leads the standings, but he’s out of the average race. Dakota Eldridge is in solid position to move up; he trails Hass by $40,000 but sits first in the average. It’s the Nevada cowboy’s title to lose.
The team roping championships are going to be hard to decide. It’s such a tight race that there are no projections. Derrick Begay and Clay O’Brien Cooper lead their respective disciplines, but they’re 10th in the average. JoJo LeMond, who was an injury replacement for Jake Barnes, leads the average with Junior Nogueira. It’s going to be a fun race to watch.
Saddle bronc rider Rusty Wright moved into the lead with his third round win on the ninth night, but Jacobs Crawley owns the average as one of just three men to ride all eight horses. He also is third in the world standings and is just $6,500 behind Wright. It’s going to be tight, but the pick at this stage is Crawley.
Trevor Brazile wants to clinch his 24th world title and his third Triple Crown. He won his first in 2007, the same year his son, Treston, was born. He did it again in 2010, the year his daughter, Style, was born. Now he’s in line for another the same year Swayzi was born. I expect him to do it.
Callie DuPerier has quietly earned nearly $60,000 and owns the lead in the average, but Sarah Rose McDonald has made a big move over the first eight rounds. McDonald leads the standings but is third in the average. Lisa Lockhart, who is No. 2 in the world standings, jumped out of an average title contention with her second downed barrel. She will need some miraculous things to happen to claim the gold buckle. McDonald, who has earned more than $102,500 at the NFR, stands in the best place to claim the gold buckle.
Cody Teel, who won the 2012 gold buckle, is itching to get No. 2. He leads the average with 574 points on seven qualified rides. Reigning world champion Sage Kimzey still owns $33,648 lead over Teel in the world standings and sits second in the average. While Teel is the only man to cover seven bulls, Kimzey has ridden five. Look for Kimzey to remain the champ.