Clayton Biglow NFR

Clayton Biglow set an arena record with a score of a 93 at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas Monday night.

After a rocky start to open the National Finals Rodeo, Ellensburg’s Minor brothers have bounced back in a big way, winning three-straight checks, including Monday night’s 3.9-second run for second place during day five of the 10-day NFR in Las Vegas.

For the second time in three days, the Riley and Brady Minor were just a 10th of a second off the winning run and Monday’s time netted the duo $20,731 apiece.

From a momentum perspective, the Minors are the fastest team in rounds three through five, roping three steers in 12.3 seconds. Riley Minor was hesitant to say the team was too hot to handle.

“I wouldn’t say on fire, but we’re winning a little bit of money,” he said by phone of the $47,808 in checks over the last three days. “It’s just us getting in a groove.

“We just started catching ‘em. I wasn’t even trying to be fast tonight,” he continued. “It’s hard not to get caught up in all the emotions of everything. I just try and rope my game and I want to win the average and win as much money as I can. I’m just trying to be smart. Our horses are great and are working.”

Monday’s steers were first seen during Friday’s second round, where Derrick Begay and Cory Petska roped a leg on the Minor brothers’ steer.

“I was actually a little late tonight,” Riley said. “I didn’t want to break out, but just a little bit behind on the start. Brady didn’t have no trouble with him.”

With the 3.9-second time, the Minors jumped two places to sixth in the five-round average, well behind average leaders Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira. World leaders Clay Smith and Paul Eaves won the round with a 3.8-second time for $26,231.

Fellow Ellensburg roper Jake Pratt didn’t have the same luck. After winning money in two straight rounds, Pratt finished Monday’s calf with a 19.4-second run, well out of the running for the money.

“The calf was a good one,” he said by phone Monday night. “Just tried too hard, rushed things a little bit, but we still have five more to go.”

Monday’s round was the halfway point for the National Finals. Pratt needs consistency on his part and probably some bad luck on the part of others to move up significantly in the average. With five to go, Pratt is 13th in an average that pays eight deep.

Helping with Pratt’s consistency is his horse, Six.

“He’s given me a good start every night,” Pratt said. “He’s been giving me a chance every night.”

But while Pratt had a hiccup, it wasn’t the same for another roper.

To paraphrase a well-known saying, Trevor Brazile isn’t getting older, he’s just getting better. The same can be said about his 2018 NFR. His NFR looks to be getting better as the week continues. Sporadic at best with a barrier penalty and two other slow times to open the first three rounds, the 23-time world champion followed Sunday’s go-round win with another buckle, splitting Monday’s fifth round three ways with Ryan Jarrett and Reece Riemer. All three had 7.5-second times for $20,872 in checks.

Better yet for Brazile, neither Tuf Cooper or Rhen Richard earned any cash, allowing Brazile to extend his slight lead in the All-Around standings. With $291,257, he’s $28,000 ahead of Cooper and had a $100,000 cushion on Richard. Ryle Smith is a factor in the All-Around too, but the California roper is about $126,000 behind Brazile.

Speaking of nearly insurmountable leads, four-time defending bull riding world champion Sage Kimzey didn’t win the round, but he earned fifth-place money with Monday’s 78-point ride on Diamond S Rodeo’s Living After Midnight. The ride helps keep Kimzey a factor in the average (fourth) as the top five all have three qualified rides. Eli Vastbinder made his first qualified ride a good one, rolling to a 91-point score on Beutler and Son’s Shootin’ Stars.

Kimzey, however, has an incredible lead in the world standings. The Midwest cowboy has earned more than $358,800 and owns a $140,400 lead over second place Parker Breding.

Barrel racing world leader Hailey Kinsel split second with a 13.59-second pattern on Monday, holding on to sixth in the average, while Ivy Conrado won the round with a 13.49. Kinsel now has $260,500 in earnings this season. Amberleigh Moore, Nellie Miller and Lisa Lockhart, second through fourth in the world standings didn’t earn checks on Monday.

It was difficult to earn a check in bareback riding. The worst an 86-point ride would’ve place in the first four rounds was fourth, on Monday it two spots out of the pay window in eighth. Clayton Biglow’s arena-record 93 on C5’s Virgil earned top billing for $26,231. Kaycee Feild still leads the average with a 425 on five head.

Wade Sundell’s 92-point score on Frontier’s Medicine Woman electrified the crowd and his bank account for $26,231. But while CoBurn Bradshaw’s 87.5 surprisingly failed to make a check — the top four scores were 90 or better on Monday – he’s the lone bronc rider with five qualified rides and thus leads the average.

In steer wrestling, Will Lummus reclaimed the top spot in the average after his go-round winning time of 3.3 seconds on Monday, tied for the fastest run of the week. Lummus has a 2.1-second lead on 2016 world champion Tyler Waguespack who was second with a 3.5.

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