Records were falling and scores were rising in an exciting day of rodeo action for the sixth performance of the Calgary Stampede.
Dawson Hay is working on building on his own legacy in this town, and it’s not taking him long to make a big impression. The young bronc riding sensation from Wildwood drew up on a Kesler outlaw by the name of Trail Smoke, one that doesn’t get covered very often. As luck would have it, he had the horse just a few days ago in Montana, and managed to make a ride. So he had his hammer cocked, and matched moves with the big buckskin, jump for jump. His famous father Rod, soon to be known as Dawson’s Dad, could hardly contain his excitement behind the chutes. The judge’s pencils were burning up paper, as they handed out a 91.5 point score!
“I don’t know if it’s sunk in yet,” said Hay, moving a little gingerly after the powerful tug of war. “He kind of beats on you a little bit. He makes you work for it. You know if you get him rode, you’re probably going to be in the paywindow.”
Hay knew as soon as he saw the draw the night before that he would have a challenging day in the sun.
“I try not to think about it too much. I’d got him rode last time, and I thought if I just bear down and ride with some confidence, I could probably get another cheque on him. I gave him a little more rein this time, and it worked out a little better.”
“That seems to be the horses I win on – the ones you’re not really sure you’re if you’re gonna ride or if they’re just gonna flat buck you off. I seem to stay on those ones.”
Even Hay was surprised about the high score he’d racked up.
“To hear that, it kind of took my breath away,” he admitted. “That’s only the second time I’ve ever been in the 90’s. So it’s amazing to do it somewhere so close to home.”
With back-to-back victories, Hay is the runaway leader in Pool B, with his $11,000 tally.
Barrel racers continue to rave about, and eat up, the ideal ground conditions at this year’s Stampede. On Day 5, the previous record of 16.99 was tied. But Day 6 saw it shattered. First, Jennifer Sharp came out and flew through the field on her horse Smooch, stopping the clock in 16.96 seconds. Moments later, fellow Texan Hailey Kinsel and Sister had their turn, and they bettered even that, shaving off three one-hundredths more, to clock a 16.93, and notch her second straight victory.
“I feel bad,” insisted Kinsel, the defending Calgary champ. “I hugged Jennifer after. I had told her when she came out ‘good job’, and we were all pumped up, because she made an awesome run.”
“I’m not going to back off, I guess. But I didn’t have to have (that record). I would’ve been ok with second. But you can’t really control the clock and I guess if it’s a good run, it’s good. She hugged me and said ‘don’t be sorry, it’s a good day for both of us!’”.
“I just hope everyone remembers that TWO records were broken today.”
So given the great speed being shown now, how low can they go?
“Oh gosh, nobody knows,” she laughed. “It just depends on if they can keep the ground so good, and our horses keep feeling good, I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody else breaks it again this week.”
Kinsel tops the Pool B earnings, at $11,000, followed by Sharp at $9000.
When Wyatt Denny found out he’d drawn Garden Party in Wednesday’s pen of bareback horses, he knew it was the kind of day he should wax his handlebar moustache. There could just be some close-up appearances ahead.
The hunch proved accurate when the Nevada man stuck on a spur ride that impressed the judges to the tune of 87.5 points, which topped a section full of high marks. It was even sweeter because of a disappointing first ride Tuesday in front of a full grandstand, including his folks.
“Totally redeemed myself,” grinned Denny. “You’re in Calgary, you always want to do good.”
“I’ve been on that horse twice. Every time I’ve been on him he has a different trip but he still feels just electric, sends your feet. It’s just one cowboys can really show their riding style off on.”
The horse actually bumped Denny’s shoulder on the chute post as he exited.
“It kind of helped me out because I was just like ‘uh-uh – you ain’t gonna do this to me today. It kind of had me off my rigging that first jump, and I really drug my feet and really got my seat set back down and I think it helped my feet, because my feet were really working good today.”
Growing up in Minden, not far from ski resorts like Lake Tahoe, Denny’s first sport was actually ski racing, which helped him develop a strong core and legs, benefiting him when he eventually made the decision to focus on rodeo instead.
“I don’t know why I chose rodeo over ski racing but I think in the back of my head, I knew that would make more a little more money than ski racing and I figured I’d stick with that.”
It’s looking like a good decision, after he cashed in for $5500 Wednesday. Leading Pool A standings is Tanner Aus, who tied for second and now has $9500.
They broke the seven second zone in tie-down roping Wednesday, when Canadian champion Shane Hanchey sped through his catch, toss and tie, in just 6.9 seconds.
“That was a good calf,” credited Hanchey, who hails from Louisiana. “It was the same calf (Matt) Shiozawa had yesterday. When Logan (Bird) texted me and told me I got that calf, I started jumping up and down. That calf will be here for the Final Four, I can just bet that.”
“It’s part of rodeoing, you’ve got to draw good.”
Hanchey knew he needed to be fast after defending champion Tuf Cooper was first out and laid down a 7.1 second run.
“I thought I’m gonna have to go all out to get right there with him. I’ve been rodeoing with Tuf since we were 12 years old. As long as you get in front of him, you’re going to win quite a bit.”
Hanchey is happy about the $5500 deposit, but he’s equally pleased about the way his horse Bam Bam is working in his Calgary Stampede debut, after retiring his great mount Reata who’d been his steady partner in past years. Cooper leads Pool B with $9000 so far, followed by Hanchey with his $7000 tally.
The first place steer wrestling bronze was nearly in Kyle Irwin’s hands in the first day of Pool B action, until the last man out, his traveling partner Tyler Waguespack snatched it away from him. On Wednesday, the tables turned, Irwin was last man to wrestle a steer, and he wowed the crowd when he got the job done in 3.5 seconds, fastest by a tenth in a swift round.
“I knew I had a chance on that steer. But you’ve got to go fast if you want to win any money here. I like it whenever the pressure’s on, and you’ve gotta go fast, ‘cuz you get to let it all hang loose,” said Irwin, another Louisiana competitor.
Irwin is way out in front of Pool B bulldoggers, with $10,000 already in his jeans.
“I’d love to leave here the champ, but what I’m here to do is make money and make a living for my family. Ten thousand in two days is a pretty good living so I’m happy with it.”
Stampede first-timer Jose Vitor Leme emerged the number one man in bull riding, marking 88.5 on a bull called Big Red. With the help of translator Andre Portes, Leme explained he didn’t know much about the bull.
“It went away from my hand and it worked out pretty good. I made a nice ride on him,” said the PBR season leader. “He tried to throw me to the outside most of the time and I really had to try hard.”
There were a few tense moments when Leme’s spur got caught in his bull rope on the dismount and he was swung around a few times before it got dislodged.
“That was pretty danger,” acknowledged Leme. “I didn’t see it coming obviously. It never happened to me before. That was the first time and I hope it won’t happen again, because it wasn’t fun at all.”
“I’m very happy for everything, and I hope to keep doing the great job to make it to the Final.”
Leme and Sage Kimzey are tied at the top of Pool B, with $7000 apiece.