Winning a go-round at the Calgary Stampede is a special deal. Not only is it worth $5500 in the bank, but it also includes an introduction on the stage and a Stampede bronze.
That wasn’t necessarily part of barrel racer Nancy Csabay’s game plan, but when it happened on Day 6 of the Stampede, the Taber cowgirl was as thrilled as could be.
For many reasons.
She was exhilarated her 12-year-old mare Wicked had a great run, rounding the pattern in the fastest time of the day, 17.56 seconds.
She was excited about getting her first actual win in some two years, since her usual MO is to keep under the radar until the championship is determined.
But she was over the moon about being presented with her very first Stampede bronze.
“My Dad actually made the (championship) bronzes for the barrel racing and the bulldogging one year here, so it’s really special. Calgary was always a big deal for my Dad, and it’s the same for me too,” declared Csabay.
Casabay’s father, Arnold Haraga, was the 1970 All Around and Steer Wrestling Champion of Canada, and was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2013. He was also an accomplished bronze artist.
“He won the steer undecorating here in the 1960’s. I’ve got his Calgary Stampede trophy. That was his prize trophy.”
So to earn one herself, on this horse, in this arena, had her pumping her fists all around her victory lap.
“You know I don’t go out and try to win it,” laughed Csabay. “I just go out and try to place. That’s what I did all last year.”
And that resulted in her first Canadian Barrel Racing championship.
Csabay has lost both her folks, and is a breast cancer survivor herself. Her life experiences have helped shape her approach to rodeo, and to life.
“My whole purpose of life is to live in the moment. My whole goal in life is to be present. I’m on to the next run for tomorrow. I have a game plan before I start, but I’m in the moment every time I’m riding in that arena.”
For now, she’s savoring a special Stampede moment with the bronze to remember it by.
The win bumped Csabay’s Pool B account to $9000, which is just behind leader Lisa Lockhart and her $9500 total.
Make it two in a row for PBR superstar J.B. Mauney. He’s already a two-time winner of the Calgary Stampede bull riding championship and on Wednesday he collected his second go-round bronze of 2016. He was even a point better than the day before, spurring out an impressive 89 on board the Kesler bull Flight Plan.
“He felt pretty good,” said Mauney. “He kind of got me rocked to the outside, and really went to whipping around there, and I kind of had to make some bigger moves than I was needing to. But I got my butt back to where it needed to be, and it worked out.”
“It was kind a little wild at the start there,” admitted the 29-year-old from North Carolina. “They said he could get a little bad in the chute, he’d want to buck in there a little bit. So I tried to ease around. When I nodded, boy, he went to bucking in there. I thought the gate man was going to get it. He was laying right under his head. But once he got cleared of the gates, he really went bucking, and it worked out pretty good.”
“You’ve just to take control of them (in there) but at the same time be easy about it. It’s kind of a fine line.”
Mauney enjoys the change of pace from the PBR Tour that Calgary provides.
“It’s a blast. It’s probably the funnest week I have all year, coming up here and hanging out. Everybody’s here to watch a great rodeo, and the committee takes great care of you here.”
Like Csabay, winning the bronze award is special. So special, that Mauney decided to spread the joy around with the next generation.
“Actually the one yesterday, there was a little boy, he wanted a picture with me and an autograph, so I just signed it and gave it to him.”
Mauney is the Pool B leader with his $11,000 tally.
Wednesday was Kids’ Day at the Calgary Stampede, and maybe that was just the inspiration Casey Martin needed. The Louisiana steer wrestler was fast man of the round, tipping the steer over in just four seconds flat. The $5500 went nicely with the second place money from the first day, giving him the Pool B lead with $10,000.
“I got a great start,” said Martin. “I wasn’t real sure when I came across (the barrier) there, if I was out or not. I thought I broke it.”
“That’s always kind of what you want,” he chuckled, about the precise start.
Martin borrowed a horse from Jake Rinehart for the Stampede run, leaving his own back home.
“I had a baby on the second. It was due on the eighth. Louisiana is a long ways from Calgary, so I just planned it so I could fly here and fly home and make sure I was there for the baby.”
Baby Newt made an early entrance, but Martin wasn’t disappointed to skip the long drive north. It gave him more time with his kids, which now number seven.
“He was the smallest one we’ve had, at 6 lbs 11 oz. But he’s got big ol’ feet, and big ol’ hands, so he’s probably going to be a big boy,” grinned the proud papa, who stand 6’5” himself.
It’s not the first time a new Martin baby has been celebrated during the Calgary Stampede. It also happened two years ago, and that time Martin ran his first four steers, flew home for the baby’s birth the next day, and then came back to Calgary.
“I have a bunch of summer babies, which is a terrible time for rodeos, but we kind of have it down pretty good. I ain’t missed one yet, so I’m pretty fortunate.”
It would be hard to find a cowboy more excited than Utah saddle bronc rider Jake Wright, after his 85.5 point ride on Major Cover gave him the round victory.
“I’ve been waiting,” he bubbled. “I’ve been saying for the last three years I’m going to get one of those statues. Finally, I got ‘er done. I couldn’t be happier.”
“I’ve been here four times. I didn’t get any money the first year, I didn’t get any money the second year, last year I finally got some, and it’s just getting better. I’ve watched my brothers do good here for a long time. I’m ready now. It’s awesome. The sky’s the limit!”
Wright now has $7000 in Pool B, the same as Zeke Thurston, after their second day of riding. But they’re chasing two-time Stampede winner Wade Sundell, who’s already collected $8000.
Manitoba bareback riding sensation Orin Larsen had a nice reunion with a horse he’d first ridden on the high school rodeo scene, called Gypsy Soul. They teamed up for an 86.5 score, giving him the $5500. He’s now got $8000 in Pool B, just $500 behind leader Richie Champion of Texas, with his $8500.
Talk about fast hands! The Stampede arena speed record in tie-down roping (6.6) was threatened by 2012 Stampede Champion Cory Solomon of Texas Wednesday afternoon. His run was a blur in 6.7 seconds, and while the record stood, the go-round money ($5500) fell Solomon’s way.
“Knowing those guys are behind you, you can’t hold anything back,” said Solomon, who’s now third place overall. “You have to take chances here in order to win first, and I took one and it worked out.”
Solomon’s mentor Fred Whitfield placed in the round again, so he’s the Pool B leader with $8000.