PENDLETON — Trevor Brazile earned the nickname “King of the Cowboys” for a reason. The 16-time PRCA world champion flashed his crown to the peasants Saturday, taking the all-around title at the 102nd Pendleton Round-Up in regal fashion.
But Brazile nearly missed Saturday’s short-go final round.
Brazile roped in Abilene, Texas, on Friday and was flying back to the Northwest for the Round-Up at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday. But just over Utah, things got a little rocky.
The pilot turned around to address his passengers in the small plane, relaying a message he could keep to himself no longer. Something was wrong, he said. They would need to land.
The plane rerouted for Salt Lake City. The pressure in the engines was dropping. No eight seconds on a bull or a bronco could compare to the next 25 minutes in the sky for the cowboy.
Two and a half hours later, Brazile was landing in Pasco, Wash. — in a new plane. And just a few hours after that, the Decatur, Texas, cowboy was accepting his prizes as the Round-Up’s all-around winner for a second time. The title also included a check for $20,204, his total made for the four-day rodeo.
Brazile, 35, will need to check a few bags when he heads to his next stop on the PRCA tour with the wares he picked up in Pendleton this week. Among his load was a championship saddle, trophy, rifle, belt buckle, embroidered wool jacket, handmade boots and a number of other personalized trinkets.
It certainly is good to be the king.
“I love this rodeo and I’d like to make it a more frequent thing winning here,” said Brazile, who made the short-round in three events.
Brazile placed third in the tie-down and fourth in the team roping average with partner Patrick Smith, but a scratch in the steer roping finals left him off the pay list for that event.
The only man in Pendleton with any hope of knocking Brazile from his rightful thrown was Russell Cardoza. Cardoza, of Terrebonne, led Brazile in money before a big day for the latter Friday. Entering the final round, Brazile had pocketed $11,002.37 to Cardoza’s $5,304.78.
“Yeah, I needed to probably win something in the calf roping right there to be able to have a chance because he had a pretty good jump on me,” said Cardoza, who made the short-go in tie-down and team roping. “I think he got me by a bit, but I’ll take second.”
Cardoza finished with 12,522.78 after landing out of the money in tie-down roping. He and partner Colby Lovell did take first in the team competition with a 18.3 aggregate on three head of cattle.
For Brazile, the Round-Up marked his 22nd rodeo of the year in which he’d won the all-around cowboy designation. He’s won almost $220,000 this year, close to $100,000 more than any other competitor.
His team roping pairing holds the top ranking in the standings with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo right around the corner and Brazile entered Round-Up week in third for steer roping.
At the NFR in Las Vegas in December, Brazile will try and cap off his 17th professional season with another all-around title, of which he currently owns nine. Those championships have come with more than $4 million in career earnings, already making him the winningest cowboy in rodeo history.
So what’s next for Brazile, or really, what’s left for him to accomplish?
“I’ve reached my goals. That’s all I can say about goals,” he said. “I love doing what I do and I love winning. The travel gets tiresome but winning doesn’t.
“Even though I’ve reached my goals, I’m still doing what I love to make a living. We’ll just see where it goes from here.”
Contact AJ Mazzolini at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839.