Casper gaining NFR momentum

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Wyatt Casper rides Korkow Rodeo’s Onion Ring, the 2021 Saddle Bronc of the Year, for 88.5 points to place in Monday’s fifth round of the National Finals Rodeo.

LAS VEGAS – With every nod of is head at this year’s National Finals Rodeo, saddle bronc rider Wyatt Casper is gaining confidence.

He rode Korkow Rodeo’s Onion Ring for 88.5 points during Monday’s tough fifth round. That score would win most rodeos, but not the “TV Pen” of bucking horses at the NFR; Casper settled for sixth place and a paycheck worth $4,354.

“It was a crazy round of bronc riding tonight,” said Casper of Miami, Texas. “It was a crowd-pleaser. Being the fourth man out at 88.5 and winning it, then getting bumped down to sixth, the last hole (for payouts) … it hit the heart pretty good. Every time I’ve been on him, I have won first, The American and at the NFR last year.”

Onion Ring is pretty special. He was named the 2021 PRCA Saddle Bronc of the Year, an honor selected by the cowboys that ride them. But two-time world champion Ryder Wright was 91 points to win it, and his brother, Stetson Wright, was 90.5 to finish second. It’s no wonder Casper and Onion Ring were pushed to the bottom spot among all placers.

“He is what every bronc rider dreams of getting on,” Casper said of the South Dakota horse. “He does his job every time.  He was honest. He is a good-built horse. I just like him.”

Through five nights of ProRodeo’s grand championship, he has earned $35,691, the biggest portion of which came with Sunday’s second-place finish. He’s pushed his season earnings to $120,638 and sits eighth in the world standings.

He started slow, but he’s heating up at just the right time.

“I feel like, most importantly, the thing about getting focused is having good rides,” he said. “I feel like in these last two rides, everything has felt good, and we are just trying to build on that.

“We are just going to keep hoping we draw good. I’m just going to try to keep riding good and let it all come together in the end. I don’t want to mess with anything, and I want to keep moving forward.”

This is Casper’s second straight NFR but his first time competing in it at Las Vegas. Still, he and his family built a routine a year ago in Arlington, Texas, that he’s continued this year. After all, no cowboy earns his way to the City of Lights without a supportive team behind him.

“My parents come all 10 nights; my wife and kids come all 10 nights,” Casper said “Every night before the round, we go out there and take a picture. We are just building memories. It’s kind of a tradition, I guess.”

So is winning money, whether it’s first place or sixth place. That’s what rolling the dice in Las Vegas is all about.


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