Saddle bronc rider Cody DeMoss, shown at a previous Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, was No. 1 in the world standings entering the 2015 WNFR at the Thomas & Mack Center. DeMoss is a five-time runner-up in the world saddle bronc standings. PRCA PHOTO BY LARRY SMITH
By Patrick Everson
Las Vegas Review-Journal
When Cody DeMoss' name comes up in rodeo circles, talk inevitably turns to the superstar saddle bronc rider's handful of world championship near-misses. Since his first ride at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, back in 2003 as a 22-year-old, DeMoss has finished second in the world standings five times.
DeMoss, who also has two third-place finishes and one fourth, has grown weary of talking about coming so close, so many times — and understandably so. But the woman who has been at his side for pretty much the entire run said people should have a different perspective, as her husband rides in his 11th WNFR at the Thomas & Mack Center.
"First of all, it is a huge blessing that he does make it, especially now that he's getting a little older," Margie DeMoss said of her 34-year-old husband. "Not that he's too old, but the guys Cody started with in 2003, there really ain't none of them left this year."
DeMoss, meanwhile, just continues to get it done. The Louisiana native with arguably the best nickname in rodeo — Hot Sauce DeMoss — entered the 2015 WNFR ranked No. 1 in the world, with regular-season earnings of $119,396. He bagged titles at 16 rodeos, continuing to hold off, and in many cases outshine, far younger competitors.
And that doesn't count the Canadian Finals Rodeo title he snared last month. While that gold buckle can't exactly serve as a substitute for the world championship gold buckle, Margie said it certainly provides a big confidence boost for this WNFR.
"It wasn't so much about winning, but going out there and doing his best," Margie said. "It gave him a good confidence boost."
The timing couldn't be better, with this WNFR marking the first under a new 10-year contract that has brought a hefty bump in prize money. When all is said and done after 10 days on the Thomas & Mack dirt, $8.8 million will be doled out — which means more than $1 million is on the table among the 15 contestants in each event.
"There's so much money up for grabs that the guy in 15th, he's got just as good a chance of winning," Margie said, recognizing that Cody starting first isn't necessarily an advantage. "A lot of things come into play. It's mind-boggling out there. And there isn't a whole lot I can tell him. He's been doing this for 15 years. The only thing I can do is encourage him as much as I can.
"But Cody doesn't go into it thinking about the money. He just goes into it to ride. It's just him and his horse."
That said, his money-earning ability speaks for itself. DeMoss' career winnings entering the 2015 WNFR were just shy of $1.9 million, meaning a good run over the next week could get him to the $2 million mark. Indeed, there are countless cowboys who would trade their careers for Cody's in a heartbeat.
"Oh, gosh yeah, for sure," Margie said. "There's a bunch of guys that would absolutely love to be in his spot. I don't take that for granted."
Nor does she take for granted all those second-place finishes, saying those efforts show a lot more than people may think.
"I don't hold onto the disappointment near as much as he does," she said. "I just tell him, 'You won second. If you walk out of there healthy and not broke to pieces, and with a lot of money, it's a win-win situation, heck yeah.' Life is too short to live in regret. I've never been one that's held onto stuff like that."
And though it does grate more on Cody, she said he doesn't let it show.
"He doesn't want any sympathy from anybody," Margie said. "He's a tough fella. He's not one to have a pity party. He might get ticked off really bad, but then he gets over it. He's just gotta go out there and ride."
And if that riding leads to that elusive gold buckle?
"Well, I'll be more happy for him than anything," Margie said. "Because I know at the end of his career, he wants that gold buckle. This is his passion, and he wants to go down in the history books at least once for winning a world championship. We all know he can do it, and he knows he can, too."
DeMoss would do well to repeat his 2012 WNFR performance, when he made it to the whistle on all 10 of his rides — the only competitor to do so — en route to winning the average title and earning his most recent second-place finish in the world standings. He was agonizingly close to the gold buckle, finishing a mere $797 behind Jesse Wright.
Regardless of how things work out this time around, Margie is confident her bronc-busting husband will leave it all out on the arena dirt.
"I saw a saying (recently), 'Wake up with determination, go to bed with satisfaction.' Cody does that," she said. "He's got 14 guys breathing down his neck. He needs to draw good, ride good. At the end of the 10th night, we'll see.
"We're just blessed to be here, and that's how it's been the last few years. It's an honor that he's in that top 15. He's had a great, great year."