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2009 NFR: World champion Trevor Brazile piles on the pressure

Day three of the 2009 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas & Mack Center on Dec. 5, 2009.
Photo: Tom Donoghue/

2009 National Finals Rodeo: Day Four

2009 National Finals Rodeo: Day Three

2009 National Finals Rodeo: Day Two

Day One of the 2009 National Finals Rodeo

Nine-time world champion Trevor Brazile finally made an impact at the halfway point of the 51st Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in front of yet another sell-out crowd of 17,027 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Our contributing photographer Tom Donoghue has been arena side since Day 1 of NFR last Thursday. As of last night’s fifth contest, Trevor, who had won just $7,188 total in team roping and tie-down roping through four rounds, tied six-time world champion Cody Ohl for the top spot in tie-down roping with a 7.1-second run to earn a $15,343 check.

“This was, by far, the best calf I’ve drawn this week, and that means a lot,” Trevor said in the official NFR report. Trevor leads Clint Robinson by $22,984 in the tie-down roping world standings.

Trevor is ninth in the average and knows that he needs to go for broke each night if he hopes to win a second tie-down roping gold buckle. “I’m going to try to make as good of a run as I can make,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll get on the right end of the cattle.”

Hico, Texas, native Cody remained red-hot, tying Trevor for the top spot a night after a scorching 6.6-second run to win Round 4. He took over the lead in the Wrangler NFR average race with a five-head time of 43.1 seconds. That’s moved him to third in the overall PRCA World Standings, $41,617 behind Trevor.

“I’ve got a buddy at home who DVRs the rounds before I go, and then I call him and tell him which calf I have and who had him. He watches them over and over and over. Then I’m able to make a game plan.”

In Round 5, the top three steer wrestlers in the PRCA World Standings finished in order at the Thomas & Mack. Standings leader and 2005 world champion Lee Graves won his second consecutive round after stopping the clock in 3.5 seconds, one-tenth of a second ahead of second-place and two-time world champion Luke Branquinho and third-place finisher Jake Rinehart.

The Calgary cowboy has increased his world standings lead over Luke to $17,580 -- just more than a first-place round check -- and continues to lead the Wrangler NFR average race with a 19.2-second total time.

For the third time in five days at the Wrangler NFR, the bareback riding ended in a tie. Jared Smith, the 2008 PRCA Bareback Riding Rookie of the Year, rode Rafter G Rodeo’s Citation for 88.5 points, then watched as two-time world champion Bobby Mote earned the same score on Frontier Rodeo’s Delta Ship. Bobby gained another $15,343 on PRCA World Standings leader Clint Cannon thanks to the share of first place. Clint leads the standings with $235,900, and Bobby has $198,122.

For the first time in more than a decade, no bull rider recorded a qualified ride at the Wrangler NFR in Round 5. The sixth performance of the 1997 NFR was the last scoreless night for bull riders at the national finals, and as a result, each of the 15 cowboys received $3,686 in ground money. That money is unofficial and does not count toward the PRCA World Standings.

Two-time world champion barrel racer Sherry Cervi won her second round of the NFR with a 13.60-second run. The $17,139 first-place check kept her fourth in the world standings. Reigning world champion Lindsay Sears was second in 13.62 seconds, and 2007 world champion Brittany Pozzi was third in 13.83 seconds.

“She felt great,” Sherry said of her mare, Stingray. “She finally turned the first barrel like she needed to. It is really fun. She is handling the pressure, and I am really proud of her.”

Brittany, who is third in the average, continues to lead the world standings with $210,324, while Lindsay leads the average and is second in the world with $200,100.

We’ll continue our NFR photo coverage each day as we ride on to the 10th and final round this weekend.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground. Read more of Robin's stories at

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