DUNCAN, Okla. – Saddle bronc rider Colt Gordon loves to rodeo close to home, and it doesn’t get much closer than the Stephens County Arena.
Gordon earned his first paycheck ever at the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo during Thursday’s first go-round when he rode Silver Creek Rodeo’s Birthday Suit for 83 points. He qualified for the finale the first time in 2016 but didn’t find the pay window until this year’s championship.
“This means a lot,” said Gordon, 20, of Comanche, Okla., just 10 miles south of the arena. “This is something I’ve been working on and working for, so I’m super proud to be here.”
He should be. He pocketed $1,802 for winning the round and pushed his season circuit earnings to $15,039. He sits second in the standings behind Hardy Braden of Welch, Okla., who finished half a point behind Gordon. Braden’s lead is more than $5,000 heading into the final two nights of the season, but Gordon has serious confidence after Thursday.
“Birthday Suit is just jam up and is nice every time,” Gordon said. “It’s just an all-around good horse, and you can’t beat him.”
Deep down, he’d like to overtake Braden for the year-end championship. If that’s not possible, though, Gordon would like to earn the average title; the year-end and average champions in each event in each of the 12 circuits advance to the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, which takes place next April in Kissimmee, Fla.
“I showed up to win the (year-end) title,” Gordon said. “My main goal is to go to Kissimmee, get a good start on next year and go to the (National Finals Rodeo).”
While this was Gordon’s first circuit finals payout, steer wrestler Stockton Graves of Alva, Okla., earned another of dozens. Graves wrestled his animal to the ground in 3.9 seconds to win the round. The first-place money moved him to within $410 of the No. 1 man, J.D. Struxness of Appleton, Minn.
“The standings are tight between four or five of us,” Graves said. “The main thing is to get some money and get to Florida. I had a great steer; they’re going to win a lot of money on that steer this weekend.”
Graves is a seven-time NFR qualifier who now focuses much of his time on coaching the rodeo program at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. He led the pack in the bulldogging money, which included two of his former students: Jacob Edler of Dacoma, Okla., finished second in the round, and Struxness placed third.
“Alva was represented well,” said Graves, who rode his former horse, Peso, through much of the year and is riding this weekend. “I sold him to J.D. right before the (NFR) last year. Luckily I still get to ride him.
“I didn’t have a great summer, but I made the circuit finals and have a chance to win the circuit.”
That’s the chance everyone wants when they get to Duncan.
Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo
Bareback riding: First round: 1. Garrett Shadbolt, 79.5 points on Silver Creek Rodeo’s Super Soaker, $1,802; 2. Jared Keylon, 79, $1,351; 3. (tie) Blaine Kaufman and Justin Pollmiller, 78, $676 each.
Steer wrestling: First round: 1. Stockton Graves, 3.9 seconds, $1,802; 2. Jacob Edler, 4.5, $1,351; 3. J.D. Struxness, 4.8, $901; 4. Trell Etbuer, 5.1, $490.
Team roping: First round: 1. Bubba Buckaloo/Joseph Harrison, 5.9 seconds, $1,802 each; 2. (tie) Casey Hicks/Braden Harmon and Andrew Ward/Reagan Ward, 6.4, $1,126 each; 4. Blake Hughes/Brady Norman, 6.5, $450.
Saddle bronc riding: First round: 1. Colt Gordon, 83 points on Silver Creek Rodeo’s Birthday Suit, $1,802; 2. Hardy Braden, 82.5, $1,351; 3. Jake Finlay, 79, $901; 4. Preston Kafka, 78, $450.
Tie-down roping: First round: 1. (tie) Tyler Milligan, Cody Quaney and Ryan Jarrett, 8.1 seconds, $1,351 each; 4. Trent Creager, 8.2, $450.
Barrel racing: First round: 1. Michelle Darling, 16.03 seconds, $1,824; 2. Tracy Nowlin, 16.04, $1,368; 3. Carley Richardson, 16.07, $912; 4. Cayla Small, 16.09, $456.
Bull riding: First round: 1. Garrett Wickett, 86 points on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Make My Day, $1,952; 2. Trevor Kastner, 82.5, $1,501; 3. Guthrie Murray, 73, $1,051; no other qualified rides.