At the end of the 2013 regular season on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit, Trevor Brazile and Patrick Smith opted to end a high-profile team roping partnership that had run for seven years.
The two cowboys earned a gold buckle in 2010, and they qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas from 2007 through 2013.
But after competing in the 2013 NFR, Brazile, who lives in Decatur, opted to partner with heeler Travis Graves. Smith, who is from Lipan, partnered with header Kaleb Driggers.
But this year, Brazile, a 12-time world all-around champion, and Smith, a two-time world team roping heeling champion, are together again and off to a booming start.
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When the title was at stake Saturday night during the Fort Worth Stock Show’s final round, Brazile and Smith turned in a time of 6.1 seconds to clinch the top spot.
Brazile and Smith finished No. 1 in team roping with a three-run aggregate time of 16.5 as the Stock Show’s renowned PRCA show concluded its 16-day, 29-performance run with a sold-out performance at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
Brazile and Smith earned $13,886 apiece for winning the title.
Sterling Smith, a 2013 NFR qualifier from Stephenville, clinched the tie-down roping title and pocketed $16,908.
In bull riding, the bovines shut out the field of 11 cowboys during the final round, and three-time NFR qualifier Clayton Savage, who entered the finale with the lead, clinched the overall title. The Yoder, Wyo., cowboy left Cowtown with $11,372.
In barrel racing, Sarah Rose McDonald was the rodeo’s top money winner after pocketing $20,932, a record for total earnings at the Fort Worth Rodeo. The Georgia cowgirl, who rode an eight-year-old mare named Bling, won the first and second rounds and then took the finals and average/aggregate titles.
Other 2015 Fort Worth champions were bareback rider Tyler Nelson of Victor, Idaho, ($8,443), steer wrestler Baylor Roche of Tremonton, Utah, ($14,663), and saddle bronc rider Joe Lufkin of Sallisaw, Okla., ($12,064).
After snaring the team roping title, Brazile said he was elated that he and Smith roped so well together throughout the Fort Worth Rodeo.
“Getting off to a good start is huge, especially when you change partners,” Brazile said. “Patrick and I had roped together seven years prior, but it’s good to know that we’ve still got it. Confidence in this industry is hard to come by. This is all about, ‘What have you done for me lately?’”
Brazile said the decision to get back together was difficult for both of them.
“We both did so well with our partners last year that it was hard to switch back,” Brazile said.
Brazile finished second in the 2014 team roping heading world title race with $176,183 after he and Graves lassoed $74,784 at the 10-day National Finals in December.
Smith finished sixth in the heeling world race with $139,243 after he and Driggers each pocketed $57,773 at the NFR.
Smith and Driggers also grabbed attention when they each earned $100,000 checks for winning RFD-TV’s The American in March at AT&T Stadium.
Winning the Fort Worth rodeo was special for Brazile, who grew in North Texas and revered the Fort Worth Rodeo.
Barzile attended the Stock Show Rodeo as a boy, but when he clinched the team roping title at the 2015 edition Saturday night, Brazile cleared up all of the stories that have been told about him.
“There have been lots of stories, but my parents never let me skip school to come here,” Brazile said. “So the first the first time I ever came to the slack was when I was entered [at age 18 as a pro competitor].”
Brazile was referring to the tie-down roping slack performance, which is held on a weekday, and traditionally features the overflow of competitors who are not scheduled to compete in the main shows.
For Brazile, winning in Fort Worth means a No. 1 finish before numerous local fans.
“It’s always great because you have people close who cheer for you all year,” Brazile said of winning the Stock Show Rodeo. “You always want to do well, so that makes it the hardest rodeo to do well in.”