Less than two weeks, and just 23 rodeos, remain in the regular season for cowboys and cowgirls of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and Women's Pro Rodeo Association (WPRA) battling for a chance to compete at the world's richest rodeo, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR). With so little time left, certain rodeos gain a place of prominence on the calendar as contestants fight for dollars that could land them inside the top 15 money winners in each event or earn them a World title.
The Pendleton Round-Up has long been an important stop for pro rodeo athletes; with a history of more than 100 years of rodeo action, the Round-Up has the heritage as well as the prize money to draw top talent. Rodeo's version of "the green mile," Pendleton is held on the grass with a setup different than any other rodeo during the season; for the WPRA barrel racers, the pattern is completed in 28 seconds, about 11 seconds longer than the WPRA approved standard pattern found at most outdoor rodeos.
During the 103rd edition held September 11-14, 2013, cowboys and cowgirls turned Pendleton success into turning points in their rodeo seasons. Bubble cowboys--those fighting for one of the final spots for a berth to Las Vegas for the WNFR--did well in several events including the team roping. Arizona cowboys Derrick Begay and Cesar de la Cruz won the rodeo and enough to move from outside the top 15 to inside it. Now, they just have to hang on for two more weeks.
After a week in eastern Oregon, contestants now begin a frantic chase to the end of the season. Most have headed east for Pasadena, Texas, a Houston suburb. They will hit the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque, Amarillo and Texarkana this week. During the final weekend, those lucky enough to already be inside the top 12 will compete in Omaha at the lucrative Justin Boots Championships. The rest will cross the country from Kansas City, home of the American Royal, to Poway, California near San Diego. They will work rodeos in San Bernardino, California, Kingman, Arizona and Stephenville, Texas in between, all hoping to earn enough to compete in Vegas in early December.
The 2013 regular season concludes in Checotah, Oklahoma on Monday night, September 30.