here were a lot of double takes Monday at the Calgary Stampede rodeo.

Cody DeMoss

“Well, I knew that I had to win today,” grinned Cody DeMoss, after doing just that in the saddle bronc riding for the second day in a row.

This time the Louisiana cowboy had an eight second high-flying adventure on the C5 horse called Curly Bill, which the judges rewarded with 89 points.

“Outstanding animal. He really had a good day with me. You know, when a feller gets tapped off on a bucker, that’s the funnest thing to do. That was one of them right there. That’s why we ride bucking horses, to get on like that and to ride like that,” he declared.

By winning back to back go-rounds, DeMoss shot his earnings up to $11,000, which was enough to nail down the last of the four spots available getting him right through to Sunday’s action.

DeMoss has had a long and decorated career as a pro cowboy, so he’s experienced in the ways of rodeo. But he admits despite Sunday’s win, his situation did garner some pondering.

“Yea, because so many plans vary in our sport. I mean, we fly by the seat of our pants. So this right here kind of determines whether I go to Colorado Springs or not. If I hadn’t done good today, I’d have probably just turned out of Colorado Springs because I’d have to be up here on Saturday.”

“So now, I think I’ll….” then DeMoss hesitates.

“I ain’t dang sure where I’m gonna go. I might go to the Springs, but then again, I might not,” he added, with a sly smirk.

As he contemplates his options, DeMoss, who’s 37, knows his body might dictate his choice.

“I got some left side issues going on. I’m fixing to head to the ice right now.”

Clay Elliott had been just out of the spotlight (and even mounted on the victory lap horse a time or two) but he managed to place in each of the four rounds, so the Nanton cowboy emerged the top money earner in Pool A with $14,000. Three-time Stampede winner Zeke Thurston was second Monday and finished second in the pool, with $13,500, followed by Isaac Diaz with $11,500. DeMoss rounds out the Pool A saddle bronc qualifiers.

Kelly Bruner

Kelly Bruner also doubled up on her bronze collection, when she and her guy Suzy set a new fast barrel racing time for the Stampede at 17.17 seconds, even though they were third last to run.

“It’s great to be a repeat,” Bruner said, still breathless from the run. “Whew! I’ve calmed down, my heart’s calmed down, my horse ran really hard. I got a better third – my third barrel was kind of a loop yesterday, and today, I set him up for it better, and boy, I mean I skinned it. It was very close to going over.”

“He did great, and ran home hard, and I’m glad now he’s got a break. He needs a break.”

Suzy gets a break, but Dr. Bruner isn’t so lucky. It’s back to work for her at the veterinary practice.

“I’m flying out tomorrow morning and (my husband) Jack is staying with the horses. I’m going to Dallas to my clinic, and my assistant is picking me up at the airport and we’ll work our butts off, then I’ll fly back Friday. I need to put some work in and see some clients.”

“He’s a super horse. I’m really lucky to have that horse. He’s just a godsend, one of those blessings, you know. You just get lucky and get one that’s great.”

Bruner cruised to the top of the Pool A barrel racing standings with her $19,000 total. Also qualifying from the first four days of competition were Ivy Conrado ($17,0000); Lisa Lockhart ($12,000); and Carmel Wright ($8,500).

Still on the double-train, Kyle Irwin also made it two-for-two in the steer wrestling. The man the announcers call ‘The Alabama Slammer’ was able to tip over his steer in just 3.8 seconds, for his second straight go-round bronze.

“Yesterday was good, and then today I knew I had a chance, but you’ve still got to do it. I’m looking forward to Sunday,” said Irwin. “That’s the ticket now, is to get to the Final Four, and then you win good money out of here.”

Irwin makes Sunday’s cut directly with his $11,000 Stampede haul, just behind defending Stampede Champion Tyler Waguespack with his $11,500. Cody Cassidy makes the cut, despite a late assessment of a barrier penalty on his 4.4 second run Monday. He finished with $9,500, and then Cole Edge of Oklahoma joins the crew with $7,750.

 Caleb Smidt

There was also a new fast time set in the tie-down roping, when Caleb Smidt came out and laid down a run in just 6.7 seconds. And that’s not even a personal best for him.

“I was 6.6 at the (National) Finals one time, but I’ve never been that fast here before,” noted the Texas cowboy. “Everything has to go really smooth, and go really fast. I actually ran the calf a little further than I wanted to, but he was fast handling and made a good run. I didn’t think I was that fast but whatever the clock says.”

“I knew I had to win a cheque probably to make it back. It was good to win first.”

The $5,500 bonus made Smidt’s Stampede account look even better, at $13,500 and guaranteeing him a spot at Sunday’s Finals.

“I’ve been here twice and one time I had to go through the Wild Card, and it wasn’t very much fun. I’m glad I just get to come back and rope on Sunday. I’ve never made the Final four, so hopefully this year it will work out.”

Topping Pool A was fellow Texan Cory Solomon, who placed on each of the four days, giving him a tally of $15,000. Cade Swor also makes it through to Sunday with $11,000 and joining them will be Kyle Lucas of Carstairs with $8,500.

The 24-year-old is competing at his first Stampede, and secured his Sunday booking by tying for second place Monday with a time of seven seconds flat.

“It’s Calgary so you can’t really safety up. You’re roping against all the best guys in the world. You just kind of have to let your hair down every time,” said Lucas.

Even though it’s his debut, Stampede Park is familiar ground, since his father Joe Lucas competed here many times, and won the roping title in 1987.

“When you’re a kid, you weren’t into the rodeo as much. You were into the goofing around. I remember me and a friend, Denver Roy, used to play quite a bit in the back and we had a lot of fun, that’s for sure.”

First place in the bareback riding on Day 4 was shared between a pair of traveling partners. Richmond Champion and Caleb Bennett posted identical score of 84 points on their horses, giving them a payout of $5,000 each.

“Anytime one of us does good in the ‘rig’, it’s good. It keeps the vibes rolling, it keeps us upbeat, keeps the positive flow rolling,” said an enthusiastic Bennett. “It’s just good to have fun.”

Despite the cash injection, Bennett came up a bit short on his account and won’t join his truck mates Champion and Jake Vold, who earned the bye. Instead, he’ll get another horse on Wild Card Saturday.

“I’ve been struggling all week and just happened to put something together. It still wasn’t the prettiest thing ever, but it worked out, so now I guess I’ll just have to do it the tougher way. They’re gonna make me work for it, I guess,” he laughed.

Champion topped Pool A with his $15,000 tally, with Clint Laye ($13,000), Vold ($10,000) and Shane O’Connell ($7250) rounding out the qualifiers.

There were four bull riders who made the whistle in the round, but the best of the bunch was from Joe Frost on the C5 bull Big Dip, for 87.5 points. The extra $5,500 gave him the frontrunner spot in Pool A with $15,000. Cooper Davis of Texas finished second overall with $10,000; followed by Brazilian Fabiano Vieira at $8000; and Ty Wallace with $7,500.

Day five will bring a whole new set of competitors to town, for their four chances at qualifying directly for the final Sunday drama.

The Calgary Stampede presented its annual Pioneer of the Rodeo awards, this year honoring chuckwagon driver Buddy Bensmiller, barrel racer Marlene (Eddleman) McRae, and movie horse wrangler John Scott.