Top cowboys, stock headline BED PRCA rodeo




Rope 'em, ride 'em, wrestle 'em, tie 'em down. Or at least try to do all of those things.

The 27th annual Beef Empire Days PRCA Rodeo is coming back to Garden City.

It all starts at 8:30 a.m. Thursday with the slack competition, which is free to the public, and will run through the afternoon hours at the Fairgrounds Arena.

At 7 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the main rodeo performance will begin.

And with it comes nearly 500 contestants, who will compete in bull riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, team roping, saddle bronc and bareback bronc riding. Add in barrel racing for the ladies, and you've got a full plate of rodeo to feast on.

Add in the top-rated specialty act as voted by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Tomas Garcilazo, who performs a world class roping show, and there's plenty of excitement. Don't forget the rodeo stock, too, which for the 12th consecutive year is being provided by the Anchor K Ranch and Korkow Rodeos of Pierre, S.D. They are just one of two rodeo stock producers who have put either bulls or horses into the National Finals Rodeo every year since 1959.

"We feel like we've got as good or better rodeo planned than ever before," said BED Rodeo President Mike Ketterling in a recent interview. "There should be something for everyone to enjoy."

Thursday is family night, where a family of two adults and accompanying children ages 9 and under will be admitted for $10. Friday is "Are You Tough Enough to Wear Pink?" It helps bring awareness to breast cancer disease. On Saturday's closing night, our nation's military veterans will be honored with free admission for those who bring their military i.d. card.

There are 41 cowboys and women's barrel racers competing who are ranked in the 2014 PRCA latest rankings.

Heading that list is 11-time All-Around World Champion Trevor Brazile of Decatur, Texas. And while the top-ranked cowboy won't be competing in the nightly performance, he will be battling for the prize money during Thursday's slack competition. He sits atop the all-around rankings once again, and also is ranked No. 3 in team roping as the header and is No. 6 in tie-down roping.

On Thursday night, former NFR competitor Ty Breuer will ride one of the Korkow's top bareback horses, Vegas Moon, a descendant of the famed Little Vegas. Will Love of Canyon, Texas, who placed sixth in the 2013 NFR in the Bareback event, will be atop Road Trip.

"We're excited with the quality and depth of our horses and bulls," T.J. Korkow, the third generation family member who oversees most of the draws for his stock. "There'll be a bunch of good ones, for sure."

A fan favorite is always the bull tiding, and this year there will be a big field in that event. Thursday alone will see 24 riders, while Friday there will be another 20, and on Saturday another 23.

Perhaps the headliner star for the Korkow Rodeos bulls is Bad Habit, who has yet to be ridden in 75 outs. That includes three trips to the NFR Finals in Las Vegas.

"He's a tough bull, and so far nobody's been able to stay on him," Korkow said of his prized bull, who will be out on both Thursday and Saturday nights.

On Thursday, Bad Habit's rider will be Josh Koschel of Nunn, Colo., a three-time NFR Finals contestant, and is currently ranked No. 13 in the PRCA. Bad Habit was voted the Bull of the Circuit Finals in 2011 by the Badlands Circuit.

"He's a rock star for sure," Korkow said of the unridden bull. "We'll see if anybody can stay on."

Another top Bull in the Korkow fold is Secret Stash, voted the No. 3 bull at the Ram National Finals Circuit Rodeo. Brock Russell of Rye, Colo., will be atop him on Thursday. Seth Glause of Cheyenne, Wyo., who was 14th at the 2013 NFR Finals, will be riding Mayan Sacrifice on Thursday night. Korkow said they were bringing some rookie bulls, and he is anxious to see how they perform.

Spin Cycle, Lost Wages and Black Mamba are among that group of newcomers, Korkow said.

In Thursday morning's Tie Down Roping, Brazile will have top competition from No. 7-ranked Ryan Watkins of Bluff Dale, Texas, and No. 7-ranked All-Around cowboy Josh Peek of Pueblo, Colo.

The barrel racing will bring in 107 entrants over the three days, with 71 of those competing Thursday during the slack competition. In Thursday's opening session, No. 6-ranked Shelley Morgan of Canton, Texas, and No. 17-ranked Cheyenne Kelly of Hallettsville, Texas, will be the first two riders out into the arena to establish the target times for the field.

The opening Thursday contingent in the Saddle Bronc division is loaded with both top riders and outstanding horses.

The Korkow brand has Paint Chip, Vanilla Twist and Raylene, all voted among the top in their event by various rodeo groups. Paint Chip was the 2011 high-marked bronc at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Bronc Futurity and Vanilla Twist earned the same honor in 2010. Raylene was voted the No. 1 saddle bronc horse at the 2009 Badlands Circuit Finals.

Among the top riders will be Cole Elshere of Faith, S.D., who will be atop Bandito Gold. Elshere competed in the 2013 NFR. Dusty Hausauer of Dickinson, N.D., is a four-time NFR contestant, while one of the premier rides of the night could come from Wade Sundell of Coleman, Okla., the No. 5-ranked cowboy in 2014 after finishing second at the 2013 NFR. He will ride NFR horse River Rat. Hausauer will be atop Boogers Pet.

In Thursday morning's Steer Wrestling, No. 10-ranked Seth Brockman of Wheatland, Wyo., and No. 10 2013 NFR placer Wade Sumpter of Fowler, Colo., headline the 42 contestants.

Team Roping will have an elite field as well Thursday morning, with Brazile and new partner Travis Graves of Jay, Okla., currently ranked No. 3 in the world. Kaleb Driggers of Albany, Ga., and Patrick Smith, Brazile's former partner, are ranked No. 5. Thursday night's first performance will see No. 4-ranked Nick Sartain of Dover, Okla., and Rich Skelton of Llano, Texas along with No. 6-ranked header Colby Lovell of Madisonville, Texas, paired with No. 7-ranked heeler Martin Lucero.

For the second consecutive year, the PRCA announcer will be Andy Stewart, a four-time top five nominee for Announcer of the Year. He lives in Collinston, La., and twice has been the announcer for the Southeast Circuit Finals. In 2006, he served as the announcer for the Ram National Circuit Finals while also serving several times as announcer for the World Bronc Futurity.

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