Gamble didn’t pay off in Bellville

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BELLVILLE, Texas – Every gambler knows that once the dice go into the air, the numbers might not roll their way.

That was the case for bareback rider Winn Ratliff and bull rider J.T. Moore, both of whom scored qualified rides on their first trips out of the chute Saturday night at the Austin County Fair and Rodeo.

Ratliff’s 80-point ride on Mo Betta Rodeo’s Booger would have allowed the Leesville, La., cowboy to finish second in bareback riding. Moore’s 80-point ride on Mo Betta’s 507 would have held up for third place in bull riding. In both cases, the house won some of its money back from the cowboys.

“The re-ride I had was a (Mo Betta) horse named Darth that’s been to the National Finals,” said Ratliff, 29, a four-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier. “Bill Tutor was 84.5 points at Rosenberg (Texas) last weekend. I’ve had some history with that horse, and I’ve seen that horse a lot. When I knew he was the re-ride, I rolled the dice and took that gamble.

“That’s rodeo. If it was easy, everybody would do it.”

By accepting the re-rides, those 80-point rides were erased. Had Ratliff stayed with his, he would have pocketed $1,121. Instead, Darth had a bad day, and the tandem matched moves for just 74 points. That was good enough for fifth place. He gambled to make $350 more and lost $800.

“If you’ve got a horse that’s been to the NFR, you want that shot if you’re a competitor,” he said. “I came here to win this rodeo. When I had a free opportunity to get on another horse, I took it.”

Moore’s third-place finish would have netted him roughly $1,100. He gambled to win $800 more, then bucked off his re-ride bull and lost it all. That’s why it can sometimes be a difficult decision for cowboys to accept another chance.

But rodeo is a gamble. In the three roughstock events, half the score comes from the animals they ride. In Ratliff’s case, the big black horse was supposed to be better than he was Saturday night in Bellville. That’s just part of the game.

For his sake, though, the Louisiana cowboy is just happy to be back to work doing what he loves. He suffered a shattered pelvis two and a half years ago and is just getting back to where he can compete again.

“I feel really confident in my health,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of questions if I’m going hard again next year and try to make it back to the NFR, but I’m going to pray about it. I’ve really enjoyed being home. That’s the one blessing when you’re injured; you get to spend a lot of family time. I’ve got a 3-year-old daughter, and she needs her daddy, and I’ve got a little boy on the way in December.

“I’m blessed in what I’ve accomplished as a bareback rider. I’m enjoying every moment and having fun. But my priorities have changed, and it’s time to be a family man and a daddy.”

Sure, there is disappointment in Ratliff’s voice, but he understands the game well. He also knows his roles in both fatherhood and rodeo have changed over the years. He’s content with that.

“I’m thankful I get to go home, and there’s another rodeo next week,” Ratliff said.

Austin County Fair and Rodeo
Oct. 11-13
Bellville, Texas
Bareback riding:
 1. Tim Murphy, 81.5 points on United Pro Rodeo’s Buckle Up, $1,480; 2. Zach Hibler, 79.5, $1,121; 3. Blade Elliott, 77.5, $807; 4. Sandro Ferretti, 74.5, $538; 5. Winn Ratliff, 74, $314; 6. Tyler David Johnson, 73, $224.

Steer wrestling: 1. Jacob Talley, 3.4 seconds, $1,665; 2. Heath Thomas, 4.5, $1,448; 3. (tie) A.D. Davis II and Lucas Brasfield, 4.6, $1,122 each; 5. (tie) Sam Powers and Dylan Shroeder, 4.7, $688 each; 7. Dakota Stermer, 5.2, $392; 8. Justin Shaffer, 5.4, $145.

Team roping: 1. Cory Kidd V/Martin Lucero, 4.7 seconds, $2,162; 2. Caleb Mitchell/Seth Smithson, 4.9, $1,880; 3. (tie) Garett Chick/Ross Ashford and Landon McClaugherty/Case Swaim, 5.0, $1,457 each; 5. Tanner Tomlinson/Corey Hedrick, 5.1, $1,034; 6. Shane Phillip/John Phillip, 6.2, $752; 7. Reno Cash Stoebner/Daniel Braman IV, 10.0, $470; 8. Manny Eguesquiza Jr./York Gill, 14.0, $188.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Parker Kempfer, 79 point on United Pro Rodeo’s Awsome Sauce, $1,502; 2. Taygen Schuelke, 74, $1,149; 3. Mason Laviolette, 71, $839; 4. Dusty Hausauer, 69, $574; 5. Curtis Garton, 68.5, $353; no other qualified rides.

Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Cody Lawrence, 8.4 seconds, $2,140; 2. (tie) De Andre Jackson and Justin Smith, 8.6, $1,722 each; 4. Lane Livingston, 8.8, $,1,303; 5. Justin Macha, 9.0, $1,024; 6. (tie) Austin Atkinson and Wyatt Imus, 9.5, $605 each;87. Coley Salge, 9.8, $186.

Barrel racing leaders: 1. Chloe Gray, 16.18 seconds, $2,630; 2. Kelly Carrington, 16.19, $2,236; 3. Tiany Schuster, 16.20, $1,841; 4. (tie) Tasha Welsh and Melinda Edwards Dunn, 16.26, $1,447 each; 6. Cheyenne Wimberley, 16.27, $921; 7. Jennifer Kalafatic, 16.31, $658; 8. (tie) Ericka Nelson, Taci Bettis and Jill Wilson, 16.32, $460 each; 11. Alex Lang, 16.35, $329; 12. (tie) Shelley Morgan and Ivy Hurst, 16.39, $132 each.

Steer roping: First round: 1. (tie) J. tom Fisher and Vin Fisher Jr., 10.2 seconds, $925 each; 3. Cole Patterson, 10.3, $633; 4. Tony Reina, 10.4, $489; 5. Trenton Johnson, 10.8, $314; 6. (tie) Mike Chase and Travis Mills, 10.9, $87 each. Second round: 1. (tie) Laramie Allen and Brodie Poppino, 10.0 seconds, $925 each; 3. Landon McClaugherty, 10.7, $489; 4. Trenton Johnson, 10.9, $489; 5. Corey Ross, 11.0, $314; 6. Cody Lee, 11.2, $175. Average: 1. Vin Fisher Jr., 21.5 seconds on two runs, $1,519; 2. Trenton Johnson, 21.7, $1,257; 3. John E. Bland, 22.3, $995; 4. Mike Chase, 23.0, $733; 5. Bryce Davis, 23.1, $471; 6. Travis Mills, 23.5, $262.

Bull riding: 1. Brody Yeary, 87.5 points on United Pro Rodeo’s Wonder Boy, $1,978; 2. Denton Fugate, 85, $1,523; 3. (tie) Jeff Askey and Jesse Petri, 77, $938; 5. Parker McCown, 76.5, $483; 7. Clayton Sellars, 76, $353; 7. Guthrie Murray, 75.5, $288; no other qualified rides.


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