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Tuesday, January 9, 2007
Double Take

By Kevin Carmody
Special to ESPN.com ProRodeo

For the second time in a row and the fourth time in five years, a bull from the David Bailey Rodeo Company stood supreme after being named the best of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

The latest double shot came courtesy of Lucky Strike, a bull not ridden in all six attempts since the 2004 Wrangler NFR. The latest casualties were Jarrod Ford in Round 3 and J.W. Harris in Round 9. Each of the four PRCA judges marked bulls on a scale of 1-25 — the higher the score, the ranker the bull. They saw quite a bull in Lucky Strike with an average score of 93.5 points in the two attempts.

It's not the first time that a David Bailey bull has earned consecutive accolades; Super Cool took top honors at the Wrangler NFR from 2002-03.

PRCA stock contractors sent their best bucking animals to the Wrangler NFR, and the best cowboys definitely met their matches. While no single-round or average records were set during the 2006 event in Las Vegas, several animals sent ProRodeo's best riders to victory laps — or a quick end to their evening — and culminated with the selection of the Wrangler NFR Top Stock Awards.

As Lucky Strike disposed of its two would-be riders, saddle bronc Country Cat of Kesler Rodeo did the same. In Round 3, the horse was scored at 93 points after dumping Bobby Griswold. Then in Round 10, Country Cat once again showed his rankness to an international audience watching live on ESPN2, throwing Cody Wright to the arena dirt well before the whistle.

Bareback riders enjoyed a different outcome, however, teaming with Classic Pro Rodeo's Wise Guy to win two rounds. In the opening round on Nov. 30, Texan Wes Stevenson spurred the horse for 89 points, which turned out to be the Wrangler NFR's highest-scored bareback ride. In Round 6, the horse highlighted the pen again, and Royce Ford's 87.5-point ride earned the round win and served as the rodeo's second-highest effort.

After bull riders made the whistle on 19 of the first 29 rides, the bulls made an emphatic comeback the rest of the way, starting in Round 3, when only eventual world champion B.J. Schumacher posted a qualified ride. The same scenario appeared again in Round 9, when Bobby Welsh had the only eight-second ride, while in Rounds 4 and 10, only two rides were recorded and only three made the whistle in Round 8.

Saddle bronc riders had their own troubles lasting eight seconds on the industry's top horses. It reached its peak in Round 9, when only five riders made the whistle. Round money is paid to the top six places, meaning that in that round, the sixth-place earnings were split among the top five riders, otherwise known as ground money.

To be eligible for awards, livestock must perform in at least two performances at the Thomas & Mack Center.

FINAL RESULTS

Bareback riding:
1. Wise Guy, Classic Pro Rodeo;
2. Moulon Rouge, Growney Brothers;
3. Commotion, Beutler and Son Rodeo;
4. R.D. Mercer, Stace Smith Pro Rodeos;
5. Spring Fling, Big Bend Rodeo Company.

Saddle bronc riding:
1. Country Cat, Kesler Rodeo;
2. Faded Star, Andrews Rodeo Company;
3. Sock Dancer, Growney Brothers;
4. Blood Brother, Burch Rodeo;
5. Cool Alley, Kesler Championship Rodeo.

Bull riding:
1. Lucky Strike, David Bailey Rodeo;
2. Werewolf, Flying U Rodeo;
3. Copper, Burns Rodeo;
4. Bo's Excuse, Andrews Rodeo Company;
5. Thin Ice, Growney Brothers.