LAS VEGAS – Bareback rider Clayton Biglow’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is like an old truck engine: It took a little while to get warmed up, but it’s humming right along now.
Biglow, 22, of Clements, Calif., failed to catch a check in the first five rounds of this year’s 10-round finale. Since the second half began, he hasn’t missed a lick. He’s placed in three straight rounds, including a second-place finish during Thursday’s eighth go-round on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s South Suds, worth $20,731.
“It was déjà vu,” he said. “I actually got on him here last year in the same round, except today I feel like I rode him better. That’s a rank son of a gun, the rankest horse I got on last year and so far the rankest horse this year.”
He must like powerful bucking horses. Thursday’s bareback riding featured the “eliminator” pen, the hardest-to-ride horses in the sport.
“That is what you want to do,” Biglow said. “That is why we are bareback riders. Getting by the hoppers (the easiest-to-ride broncs) is fun and all, but this is what you live for, to slay the dragons.”
He has pushed his NFR earnings to $72,404, with all but $10,000 coming in the last three nights. He now sits fourth in the world standings with $200,577 in season earnings. What’s more impressive is that the group of bareback riders has worked like a team.
“We are feeding off each other,” he said. “We are all brothers in that locker room. We are all pulling for each other. Everyone wants to win first, and it would be cool if we could all win first. No one is against each other. We are not here to beat Tim (O’Connell) or Richie (Champion). We are there to beat our horses, and that is all we are worried about.”
Now Biglow has just two more chances to cash in during his Vegas tenure this season. He’ll do everything possible to make it work.