HOBBS, N.M. – Trevor Brazile knew he needed a big first night at the $195,000 National Finals Steer Roping to have a chance at defending his world championship and wasn't about to let a little thing like competing on a new horse get in the way.
Brazile won two of five rounds Friday night at the Lea County Event Center and cashed checks in all but one aboard Lobo, a horse he bought Thursday from Steve Wolf after his elite steer roping mount Roan Ranger pulled a muscle Wednesday, just as Brazile was about to load his trailer and drive here from his home in Decatur, Texas.
Whatever misgivings Brazile may have had about taking his new mount into a noisy building for the first time, he took an aggressive approach in every round and finished the night with an event-best $18,750, a 10-second lead over Rocky Patterson in the average standings after five rounds and what seems to be a firm grasp on first place in the Crusher Rentals PRCA World Standings.
Ahead of 18-time world champion Guy Allen by about $1,900 at the start of the night, Brazile enters Saturday's last five rounds of the NFSR with a lead of just more than $19,000.
"When the standings are as close as they were," Brazile said, "you just have to try to win as much as you can. You have to be aggressive. If you try to play it safe, a slip of the wrist, a bit of bad luck can take you out of it. I try to do every run as sharp as when I practice at home.
"(Saturday), I'll rope the same, as sharp and quick as I can. This is not a time to become conservative."
Brazile won the third round in 9.7 seconds and came right back to improve on that by winning the fourth round in 9.4 seconds. He also tied for second place with Lawson Plemons in the second round and finished third in the fifth round. His $18,750 total in five rounds is equal to the amount he won last year when he tied for the event earnings title with Allen and J.P. Wickett.
There were two parts to the radical swing in the standings -- Brazile's first-rate performance and a very unlucky night for Allen. Widely considered the greatest steer roper in the sport's history, Allen had three no-times on Friday night, two of them when steers got up after the trip and before Allen could get to them to put on the tie.
"It's just part of the game," Allen said. "You hate it, but what can you do? You do your best and hope it works out."
Allen placed once, a fourth-place finish in the second round. It earned him $1,500 and was just enough to keep in second place in the world standings, ahead of 2005 World Champion Steer Roper Scott Snedecor, who won two rounds and $16,500 Friday to move from seventh to third in the world standings, just $579 behind Allen.
Snedecor's time of 9.0 seconds in winning the fifth round was the fastest of the night.
Brazile (52.40 seconds), Patterson (62.40) and Jarrett Blessing (65.00) were the only three among 15 competitors to rope all five head successfully on the first night. Patterson won the second round with a time of 9.6 seconds and with it the Colby Goodwin Award and a set of silver spurs in remembrance of Goodwin, a steer roper who died competing in the 1999 NFSR.
Plemons celebrated his 33rd birthday Friday by earning $6,705 and earning a spot in the top five of the average.
2007 National Finals Steer Roping
Lea County Event Center
Day one results
First round: 1. Scott Snedecor, 10.8 seconds, $6,000; 2. Cash Myers, 11.1, $4,500; 3. (tie) Rich Skelton and Cody Lee, 12.4, $2,250 each; 5. Jarrett Blessing, 12.6; 6. (tie) Trevor Brazile, Lawson Plemons and J.P. Wickett, 12.7; 9. Rocky Patterson, 13.0; 10. Guy Allen, 13.4; 11. J.R. Olson, 16.8; no other qualified times.
Second round: 1. Rocky Patterson, 9.6 seconds, $6,000; 2. (tie) Trevor Brazile and Lawson Plemons, 10.0, $3,750 each; 4. Guy Allen, 10.9, $1,500; 5. Jarrett Blessing, 11.4; 6. Buster Record Jr., 11.6; 7. J.D. Yates, 12.1; 8. Cody Lee, 12.4; 9. (tie) Scott Snedecor and Neal Wood, 12.6; 11. Rich Skelton, 14.0; 12. J.R. Olson, 14.9; 13. Cash Myers, 15.4; 14. J.P. Wickett, 16.3; no other qualified times.
Third round: 1. Trevor Brazile, 9.7 seconds, $6,000; 2. Rocky Patterson, 10.1, $4,500; 3. Lawson Plemons, 10.6, $3,000; 4. Cash Myers, 11.3, $1,500; 5. (tie) J.P. Wickett and J.D. Yates, 11.5; 7. Jarrett Blessing, 12.6; 8. Rich Skelton, 16.2; no other qualified times.
Fourth round: 1. Trevor Brazile, 9.4 seconds, $6,000; 2. Scott Snedecor, 9.8, $4,500; 3. Rod Hartness, 10.0, $3,000; 4. Neal Wood, 11.7, $1,500; 5. Cody Lee, 12.8; 6. Lawson Plemons, 13.1; 7. Buster Record Jr., 13.2; 8. Jarrett Blessing, 14.6; 9. Rocky Patterson, 14.9; no other qualified times.
Fifth round: 1. Scott Snedecor, 9.0 seconds, $6,000; 2. J.P. Wickett, 10.0, $4,500; 3. Trevor Brazile, 10.6, $3,000; 4. Rod Hartness, 10.7, $1,500; 5. Cash Myers, 10.9; 6. Buster Record Jr., 11.9; 7. Jarrett Blessing, 13.8; 8. Rocky Patterson, 14.8; 9. J.D. Yates, 15.1; 10. Neal Wood, 20.8; no other qualified times.
Average standings (after five rounds): 1. Trevor Brazile, 52.4 seconds on five head; 2. Rocky Patterson, 62.4; 3. Jarrett Blessing, 65.0; 4. Scott Snedecor, 42.2 seconds on four head; 5. Lawson Plemons, 46.4; 6. Cash Myers, 48.7; 7. J.P. Wickett, 50.5; 8. Buster Record Jr., 36.7 seconds on three head; 9. Cody Lee, 37.6; 10. J.D. Yates, 38.7; 11. Rich Skelton, 42.6; 12. Neal Wood, 45.1; 13. Rod Hartness, 20.7 seconds on two head; 14. Guy Allen, 24.3; 15. J.R. Olson, 31.7.
Total event earnings (after five rounds): 1. Trevor Brazile, $18,750; 2. Scott Snedecor, $16,500; 3. Rocky Patterson, $10,500; 4. Lawson Plemons, $6,750; 5. Cash Myers, $6,000; 6. (tie) J.P. Wickett and Rod Hartness, $4,500 each; 8. (tie) Rich Skelton and Cody Lee, $2,250 each; 10. (tie) Guy Allen and Neal Wood, $1,500 each.
Crusher Rentals PRCA World Standings (unofficial after five rounds): 1. Trevor Brazile, $61,203; 2. Guy Allen, $42,052; 3. Scott Snedecor, $41,473; 4. Lawson Plemons, $40,904; 5. J.P. Wickett, $35,175; 6. Rocky Patterson, $34,125; 7. J.D. Yates, $30,065; 8. Rod Hartness, $27,448; 9. Cash Myers, $27,213; 10. Buster Record Jr., $26,609; 11. Neal Wood, $25,940; 12. Rich Skelton, $25,710; 13. Jarrett Blessing, $23,544; 14. Cody Lee, $22,519; 15.