Wildcard Saturday pays off for two Canadian cowboys
July 15, 2017
On Wildcard Saturday, two more Canadians earned a spot in the richest day in rodeo – Showdown Sunday at the Calgary Stampede.
Tie-down roper Logan Bird is competing at his first Stampede. He came out early on Saturday and roped a calf in 7.9 seconds, then had to wait the round to see if he’d been fast enough to move on.
“Watching the last nine guys go, the best in the world, is not an easy thing,” admitted Bird, who’s from Nanton. In the end, only Texan Cade Swor was faster, with his 7.8 second run, so he and Bird will be back roping on Sunday.
“Roping for a hundred grand is … awesome. Every day at Calgary’s been awesome for me. I’m just going to try and do the same thing – go make the best run that I can.” Swor gets an extra $6000 for first in the round, while Bird added a tidy $5000 to his bank account.
The Canadian flags were flying in the steer wrestling as well, when Curtis Cassidy managed to emerge number one with a 3.4 second run, for a $6000 cash boost.
“Obviously that’s why you come here to Calgary is to have a chance at a hundred on Sunday,” said the second generation cowboy from Donalda. “I haven’t been there the last few years. Cassidy has participated in the Stampede 21 times, and since the tournament format was introduced, estimates he’s probably been to the Sunday round about half those times.
“Anytime you can back in here on Sunday, it’s wicked. It’s a lot of pressure but at the same time, that’s why you practice and do what you do, and you live for days like this.” World Champion Tyler Waguespack was one of two steer wrestlers to be 3.5 seconds, but he gets the nod to carry on his Stampede through a tiebreaker, and collects $5000 as well.
Topping Saturday’s round of bareback riding was Steven Peebles but he had to work overtime to get it, which isn’t good news for a cowboy with as many body issues has Peebles has. The Oregon cowboy was awarded a re-ride and came back on a horse called You See Me, for 90 points. It was worth it for the chance to defend his title on Sunday, but Peebles headed right to Sports Medicine to get worked on, so he’s fit enough to ride again the Sunday.
Joining him from this round on a tiebreaker was J.R. Vezain of Wyoming, who turned in one of a trio of 86’s. Because he’d won a round outright and the others hadn’t, Vezain makes it through for his third career attempt at the $100,000.
Cort Scheer was breathing a sigh of relief, after making an outstanding 88 point ride on Calgary Stampede horse Yesterdays Delivery, to earn $6000.
“I’m pretty sure the year I won it I came through the wildcard round too, so I’m hoping that kind of replays itself,” smiled the Nebraska cowboy, who won the Stampede in 2013.
Utah’s Ryder Wright will represent the first family of bronc riding on Sunday after he snatched the second spot, for an 85.5 point ride, and $5000.
For the bull riders, it was a pair of Texans hitting the Wildcard jackpot. Cody Teel got the biggest payday ($6000) for an 89.5 point ride on Double Down, while to the delight of fans in the grandstand, Mike Lee made his customary run around the arena after an 86 point ride on All About You ($5000). Both will be part of Showdown Sunday.
The speedster Saturday in the barrel racing was Amberleigh Moore of Oregon, clocking a time of 17.09 seconds for her $6000 boost, with the second place payout of $5000 going to Texan Jackie Ganter for a time of 17.12 seconds. They’re the two who will get a chance to run again Sunday.
Former Calgary Mustangs junior hockey player Conner Hamilton won the novice bareback riding championship, while Dawson Hay of Wildwood kept up the family rodeo championship tradition by earning the novice saddle bronc riding honors.
There’s a million dollars to be given out on Showdown Sunday, as the ten competitors in each event will first ride to be among the four best, who then move on to get the shot at the big cheque for $100,000.
Nanton tie-down roper going for $100,000 after Wild Card Saturday at Stampede
Published on: July 15, 2017 | Last Updated: July 15, 2017 5:56 PM MDT
Logan Bird of Nanton, Alberta during tie-down roping at the Calgary Stampede on Saturday July 15, 2017. LEAH HENNEL / POSTMEDIA
All week, Logan Bird has been wide-eyed at his first Calgary Stampede.
Yes, the Nanton, Alta., cowboy has grown up around the venue, been familiar with the field of tie-down ropers for years, and has scouted calves his entire life.
His dad, Manerd, operates Lazy B Cattle — the supplier of tie-down roping calves at the Calgary Stampede — so he literally knows the game inside and out.
But there’s not much that can prepare you for the big one — $100,000 Sunday at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth in front of thousands of people.
“Yeah, I hadn’t really thought about it until you just said it,” deadpanned the 23-year-old.
Well, the first-timer is about to find out.
A 7.9-second performance during Saturday’s Wild Card round was good enough to qualify for Sunday’s finals, pitting him against some of the best in the business.
Bird will join Cade Swor of Winnie, Tex., who posted a 7.8-second run on Saturday and Pool A qualifiers Ryan Jarrett of Comanche, Okla., Shane Hanchey of Sulphur, La., Cory Solomon of Prairie View, Tex., and Marty Yates of Stephenville, Tex., and Pool B qualifiers Caleb Smidt of Bellville, TEex., Matt Shiozawa of Chubbuck, Id., Timber Moore of Aubrey, Tex., and Fred Whitfield of Hockley Tex.
But it wasn’t easy.
Bird was third to go among the 12 Wild Card competitors and had to sit on pins and needles, waiting to see if his 7.9-second run was fast enough.
“Watching the last nine guys go, the best in the world, is not an easy thing,” he said. “I couldn’t even watch the last guy (Riley Pruitt). He had it on him fast and I was like, ‘Oh, he beat me.’ But he messed up.
“At first I turned away and I was like, ‘I’m not going to watch.’ But as soon as he nodded, I had to watch.”
Luckily, it all worked out.
As a kid, Bird wanted to be a bull rider but eventually switched events. Steeped in the sport — his dad was also a tie-down roper — he’s imagined himself winning the big prize at the Stampede more times than he can count.
But now that it’s for real?
“Roping for $100,00 is …” Bird said. “(As a kid) it’s just not the same as (doing it) in front of this crowd …I’m just going to do the best I can.”
Cassidy joins brother in Sunday's showdown for $100,000 cheque
Published on: July 15, 2017 | Last Updated: July 15, 2017 5:31 PM MDT
Donalda, Alberta bulldogger Cody Cassidy during the steer wrestling event at the Calgary Stampede rodeo. AL CHAREST / POSTMEDIA
Curtis Cassidy isn’t a big stats guy.
The 38-year-old has been to the Calgary Stampede 21 times, and between the steer wrestling and tie-down roping events, has made the Sunday finals “about half of the times.”
And, when asked how many times both he and his younger brother Cody have been in the Championship round together?
“I have absolutely no idea,” Cassidy said with a chuckle.
But what the Donalda, Alta., cowboy does know is the math behind a 3.4-second run on Wild Card Saturday — a performance that put him in the running for $100,000 on the richest day in rodeo.
“I obviously had a really good steer and my horse (Tyson) worked good and Bailey (Milan) did a good job hazing,” Cassidy said with a grin. “All of that stuff has to come together in 3.4-seconds to be 3.4-seconds.
“But it worked out good.”
Good enough to make a trip to Calgary on early Saturday morning worth while. His 3.4-second performance was the best of the day and his best of the week while Ty Erickson of Helena, Mt., and Tyler Waguespack of Gonzales, La., both threw down 3.5-second times.
But because Waguespack had finished No. 1 on Wednesday, Day 2 of Pool B of competition, he advances to the finals.
They’ll be up against the top-four competitors from Pool A (Jason Thomas, Tanner Milan, Riley Duvall, and Brock Butterfield) and Pool B (JD Struxness, Stockton Graves, Seth Brockman and Cody Cassidy).
The last time in recent memory that Curtis Cassidy won steer wrestling at the Stampede was back in 2006.
“Obviously that’s why you come to Calgary is to have a chance at $100,000 on Sunday,” he said. “But I haven’t been there the last few years and I haven’t had my ducks in a row like I should. The last couple years, I was half crippled. My body is feeling pretty good though … between (Calgary) and Las Vegas, that’s what you live for rodeoing.”
Cassidy, who has been battling a hip injury, was forced do qualify the hard way after claiming only $3,500 in Pool A competition at the beginning of the Stampede.
Following that, he packed up and drove to the Teepee Creek Rodeo just Northeast of Grande Prairie.
“I did no good in bull doggin’ and shoulda been winning the calf roping but I missed my hooey, so I should have been in third but I don’t know what happened (Saturday),” he said with a chuckle. “As I was missing my hooey, I was like, ‘My dad’s gonna be cussin’ me…’”
At the moment, however, Sunday in Calgary is the focus.
After competing on Friday, Curtis headed back to their family home in Donalda, Alta., and woke up early on Saturday morning to drive to Calgary for the Wild Card round.
“I was standing here and thinking, ‘I had a good night sleep at home last night. I should drive home and come back again tomorrow,” he said with a chuckle. “Between the chuckwagons and the fireworks here, then all the guys that aren’t competing that are having a good time — they’re keeping you awake too.”
Cassidy wasn’t even planning on joining them in the beer gardens after his competition on Saturday afternoon, either.
“I’ve got a few hundred in cash in my pocket,” he joked. “But with the price of the beer, it might not be enough.”
When Cort Scheer of Elsmere, Ne., won the saddle bronc at the Calgary Stampede in 2013, he did so by qualifying through the Wild Card round.
And considering he managed to qualify for the finals again the same way on Saturday, it could be a good omen.
“It’s probably the most exciting perf besides the final just beside the simple fact you have 12 guys and only two guys come out of there and are holding nothing back,” said the 31-year-old. “That’s your last chance … everybody’s going at it.”
He was thrilled with the horse he drew of the day, Yesterdays Delivery, and … well … delivered.
An 88-point ride was the top ride of the afternoon, earning him a spot among the top cowboys at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
“Oh my gosh,” Scheer said. “That sucker was a juice hog coming around there. I knew that sucker was rank. But I didn’t know he’d quite come around that tight. I was praying to the Lord, I was still going to be there.”
Joining Scheer in the finals is 19-year-old Ryder Wright of Milford, Ut., who had 85.50 aboard Crazy Day Job.
Wright, of course, is part of the infamous Wright clan who have become Calgary Stampede mainstays.
Five of them were competing in Wild Card Saturday with Ryder — the 19-year-old son of 2006 and 2008 Stampede champion Cody — advancing to Sunday.
In fact, Ryder can recall joining Cody on stage at the Calgary Stampede over a decade ago and remembers one distinct thing.
“Yeah, that $100,000 cheque,” he said with a chuckle.
Following a 90-point re-ride, bareback rider Steven Peebles of Redmond, Ore., advanced to the Calgary Stampede finals for the second straight year.
Peebles, of course, had a wild comeback story in 2016 when he won the Calgary Stampede. This past winter, he had back surgery to repair the damage done by breaking his back.
the 28-year-old also had to pull out of the 2015 Calgary Stampede after a wreck at a rodeo in Livinston, Mt., nearly killed him.
Peebles will have a shot at $100,000 along with J.R. Vezain of Cowley, Wy. Vezain narrowly missed qualifying for Sunday, finishing fifth in the aggregate. But he fixed that as the top rider out of a three-way tie between Tyler Nelson and Steven Dent who all rode for 86-points.
They’ll join the top four from Pool A (Richie Champion, Caleb Bennett, Ky Marshall and Jake Vold) and top four from Pool B (Tim O’Connell, Orin Larsen, Mason Clements, and Tanner Aus).
AROUND THE HORN
Amberleigh Moore of Keizer, Ore., and Jackie Ganter of Abilene, Tex., both advanced to the finals in barrel racing. Moore chased Tiany Schuster’s new infield record of 16.99-seconds with a 17.09-second trip around the barrels … Ganter was 17.12-seconds … Cody Teel of Kountze, Tex., and Mike Lee of Forth Worth, Tex., advanced in bull riding with 89.5- and 86-rides, respectively … Former Calgary Mustang and AJHL forward Connor Hamilton captured the novice bareback championship for the second time … Dawson Hay, son of former Stampede great Rod, won the novice saddle bronc.
Gorst finds gear to fill out Sunday's Dash for Cash
Published on: July 15, 2017 | Last Updated: July 15, 2017 10:22 PM MDT
Logan Gorst driving for BD & P Put the Boots to Hunger in heat 7 during the GMC Rangeland Derby at the Calgary Stampede rodeo. AL CHAREST/POSTMEDIA
Logan Gorst wasn’t able to win a heat in the first eight days of competition at the Calgary Stampede.
That all changed on Semifinal Saturday at the 2017 GMC Rangeland Derby as Gorst sped around the Stampede track aboard his BD&P Put the Boots to Hunger outfit in an impressive time of 1:11.06 to win the seventh heat and qualify for Sunday’s Dash For Cash.
“To tell you the honest truth, I don’t have the big outfits,” said the 35-year-old reinsman from Meadow Lake, Sask. “I’ve got three outfits that kind of do the same thing, and I hadn’t won a heat all eight days. Nobody really knows that. I lost by 3/100ths. I lost by 10/100ths. When you think of it, I ended up second in the aggregate, and you think that’s crazy.”
Coming off barrel No. 1, Gorst finished well ahead of the pack to earn him his second shot at winning a cheque for $100,000.
“I’ve been in the Dash once now as a driver,” said Gorst, who finished third in 2015 behind Kurt Bensmiller and Kelly Sutherland. “I’ve rode the dash lots as an outrider. I know what it takes to be there, but I haven’t won it as a driver, so that’s my main goal.”
To accomplish that goal, Gorst will have to out-sprint Bensmiller, Obrey Motowylo and Chanse Vigen in Sunday’s championship heat.
Bensmiller also used Barrel 1 to his advantage in the ninth heat as he raced around the track in a time of 1:11.98 aboard his West Industrial Ltd. outfit to beat Motowylo (Eagle Builders) by a horse length.
After Sunday, three might just become Kurt Bensmiller’s lucky number. A win would give him his third Rangeland Derby title.
“My whole life leads up to the Calgary Stampede every year,” said the 34-year-old reinsman from Dewberry, Alta., whose dad Buddy won a trio of titles in 1979, ’89 and 2003. “If we could come back and win it, it’s the most amazing feeling in the world.”
A first-place showing on Sunday would also be Bensmiller’s third-straight show title. He also raced to victory at the Tommy Dorchester championship heat at the Ponoka Stampede on July 3, a week after winning the Guy Weadick Days title in High River on June 25.
Bensmiller would like nothing more than to step up onto the stage on Sunday with his wife Ashley and three – yes three – daughters, Harlee, Hayze and Vahn, by his side.
“This is the best place to be for fans, sponsors, animals, athletes, so it’s great to showcase them here,” said Bensmiller, who’s currently leading the World Professional Chuckwagon Association standings with 845 points. “This is where I want to be.”
Motowylo qualified for Sunday’s final with a time of 1:12.17, as did Vigen in 1:12.72.
Motowylo says he only has a small crew helping him out this year, which includes his wife, Angie, and sons Ethan, 16, and Hayden, 13.
“To win the Rangeland Derby, it just shows the hard work,” said Motowylo, while adding that he can guide his horses “the right way and not mess up for the crew and let the horses run. They’re ready.”
Vigen described the opportunity to win the Rangeland Derby as a dream that he’s had since he was young.
“This is what I grew up doing, watching,” said Vigen, whose dad Mike and grandfather Ralph inspired him to become a chuckwagon driver. “This is where you want to be. This is what you aim for every year. This is your Stanley Cup if you will. It’s my dream to win this show.”
AROUND THE BARRELS
Chance Bensmiller filled in admirably for Jamie Laboucane. Due to the fact that Laboucane is out with a fractured ankle, Bensmiller took over driving his Rogers Communications rig, and all he did was blaze around the track in 1:10.52 on Saturday to win $6,000 in day-money. Not only was it Saturday’s quickest time, it was the fastest of the meet so far … Prior to the first heat, Rory Gervais was presented with a cheque for $3,000 and a bronze trophy for winning the BP Outstanding Outrider Award. It was his third-straight year earning the accolade. Casey Knight finished second and won $2,000, while Chance Flad earned $1,000 for finishing third … Before the ninth heat, retiring driver Kelly ‘The King’ Sutherland was honoured for his five decades of racing at Stampede Park, which included 12 Rangeland Derby titles. He was given a souvenir tarp signed by all the chuckwagon committee members.