FORT WORTH, Texas – Saddle bronc rider Jake Wright held down the fort by winning the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show in Fort Worth, Texas, for the second year in a row.
“A lot of guys go their whole career hoping to win that one and I am pumped to win it another year,” Wright said. “I’m stoked – at a loss for words. Growing up, I saw Cody (Wright, Jake’s older brother) win it many times and watching him do good; I wanted the same success, so I went in there hoping for the best.”
The 27-year-old Milford, Utah, cowboy improved on his 2016 Fort Worth win by 4.5 points by going for 255.5 points on three head.
“I think I rode better this year,” Wright said. “(ProRodeo Hall of Famer) Shawn Davis said ‘the day you have a perfect ride, you might as well hang up your saddle.’ I told (ProRodeo Hall of Famer) Billy Etbaur when I was 19 or 20, that I think I have this figured out and he said ‘call me when you do.’
“I always thought about that – keep striving to be better – and I want to win the world champion something fierce.”
Wright was battling the flu while competing, but luck was on his side when it came to the draw as he’d ridden J Bar J’s Special Time during Round 3 of the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Polaris RANGER.
“He bucks hard and a lot of guys don’t like him, but I get along with him really good,” Wright said. “I didn’t know what I had until I got here, and when I looked at the sheet I was like ‘heck yeah.’”
Wright won the average by 1.5 points by placing seventh in the first round with an 83 and then splitting the win in Round 2 and the final round.
“I had a good attitude and was pumped to be in the short round,” Wright said. “When you are in the short round in Fort Worth you might as well have fun like at the Finals, just keep doing what you did to get there.”
Wright got a call from two-time world champion saddle bronc rider Taos Muncy shortly after his win at Fort Worth.
“Taos was being funny and asked if they were going to make a statue of me at the rodeo and I said I’d be alright with it,” Wright said. “Fort Worth has been good to me my whole career and I love going to that rodeo. The greats have rode in that same building, on that same dirt.”
Wright was eighth in the 2016 WEATHER GUARD® PRCA World Standings and he’s off to an identical start to 2017, so he’s got his eyes set on what would be his sixth consecutive WNFR.
“That buckle is in my sights every year,” Wright said.
Winning Fort Worth has given Wright a $13,998 boost in the 2017 world standings.
“The winter run is just kicking off and now the fun really begins,” Wright said. “It always gives you a boost to get on a roll in the winter, you get good confidence and you are riding good. This man is just starting to get on fire.”
Other winners at the $665,546 rodeo were bareback rider Tim O’Connell (336 points on four head), steer wrestler Luke Branquinho (12.2 seconds on three head), team ropers Erich Rogers/Cory Petska (16.0 seconds on three head), saddle bronc rider Jake Wright (255.5 points on three head), barrel racer Fallon Taylor (49.61 seconds on three runs) and bull rider Dave Mason (235.5 on three head).