The odds were ever in Trevor Brazile’s favor when he journeyed to Las Vegas for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Brazile went in with a commanding lead in the all-around when the rodeo started Thursday, Dec. 5. By Tuesday night, Dec. 10, he’d already secured the gold buckle as the highest money-winner in rodeo for the year.
It marked his 11th all-around title and 19th world championship. Both are new records. He was presented the award Saturday night at the conclusion of the 10-day rodeo.
He could be considered the most prolific athlete of the last decade in any individual sport. With a career total of $5,029,313, he left Las Vegas as rodeo’s first $5-million cowboy.
The $170,823 Brazile collected in team roping and tie-down roping at WNFR brought his season total to $426,010, the second-highest total in history. He holds places one through seven in that category.
And with two round wins in team roping with heeler Patrick Smith, Brazile increased his own National Finals record for most overall round wins to 55. They both finished fifth in the world rankings.
Brazile also finished third in the world rankings in tie-down roping. He won the world championship in steer roping last month in Oklahoma.
His wife Shada also put on an impressive performance in the finals in barrel racing. It was her first time to qualify for the WNFR, which only accepts the top 15 in the world in each category. After coming in ranked 13th, she finished in the top six in five of the 10 rounds. She placed second in the average and ended the year ranked the No. 8 barrel racer in the world.
Shada’s brothers, Tuf and Clif Cooper, both also of Decatur, finished in the top eight in the world in tie-down roping.
Tuf finished fourth in the world standings. The two-time world champion in tie-down, and the youngest $1-million cowboy, Tuf was hoping to three-peat after entering the finals ranked No. 1. But over the 10 days he was edged out by Shane Hanchey, Cody Ohl and Brazile. Tuf also finished third overall in the all-around cowboy world standings.
Clif finished No. 8 in the world standings. He climbed several spots in the rankings during the finals as he landed in the money on six of the 10 rounds, including five rounds where he placed second, third or fourth. He began the finals ranked 12th in the world. It was his fourth consecutive time to qualify for the finals.
Decatur steer wrestler K.C. Jones made his seventh trip to the finals. He placed third in round five and fifth in round eight. He ended the year No. 14 in the world standings.
As the dust was still settling in the Thomas and Mack Arena at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, negotiations were going on between WNFR officials and Osceloa County in Florida. After 29 years of holding the WNFR in Las Vegas, serious talks are underway to move the WNFR to Orlando for the 2015 finals.
However, the Las Vegas Sun reported Monday that Las Vegas Events appears ready to move on and maybe even replace WNFR with another major rodeo event. But PRCA CEO Karl Stressman said while they are talking to Florida, they are not ready to end all negotiations with Las Vegas, and nothing is finalized.