Brett Hoffman

For the past seven years, the RFD-TV’s The American at AT&T Stadium in Arlington has offered rodeo competitors the bigger bucks.

On Sunday, March 8, two cowboys from Texas and New Mexico, who live less than three hours apart, each earned a $600,000 champion’s check at The American’s 2020 edition.

Saddle bronc rider Wyatt Casper, 23, from Pampa in the Texas Panhandle, and Shad Mayfield, 19, from Clovis, New Mexico, shared the big prize.

With the saddle bronc riding title at stake in the four-man final round, Casper clinched it with a score of 91.25 aboard a former National Finals bronc named Get Smart — owned by Northcott Macza, a Canadian rodeo livestock firm. Mayfield, 19, paced the tie-down roping field with a blistering time of 7.75 seconds.

“This is a dream come true,” said Casper, who competed in The American in 2016 but did not advance to the final round. “I’ve dreamed on standing on this stage and winning that kind of money.”

Casper’s and Mayfield’s earnings were highly inflated compared to the other event winners at The American because they were eligible for the “$1 million sidepot” after qualifying through the American Semifinals, which was Feb. 25-March 1 at Cowtown Coliseum in the Fort Worth Stockyards.

The $1 million side pot was a part of the March 7-8 rodeo’s overall $2.4 million purse.

Casper and Mayfield were the only two title race winners who were eligible for the side pot money. All of the other champions, with the exception of bull riding, each received $100,000.

Casper and Mayfield each earned $500,000 when they split the $1 million side pot. They also each earned $100,000 that was designated to the winners in every event.

Mayfield said he plans on investing the big money that he’s won toward his career.

“I’ve got to pay off some stuff right now, rodeoing is expensive,” he said. “I need a couple of more horses. Rodeo costs so much. There’s trucks and fuel.”

Mayfield is ranked No. 1 in the PRCA’s 2020 tie-down roping world standings with $130,700 and that should be way more than enough in regular season earnings to secure a second trip to the National Finals. He is the son of Sylvester Mayfield of Clovis who qualified for the NFR in tie-down roping in 1985 and 1987.

Casper, who clinched the 2016 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association saddle bronc riding title with Clarendon College near Amarillo, has struggled the last five years on the PRCA circuit. Last year, he finished 33rd in the PRCA’s saddle bronc riding title race with $40,194.

But since the beginning of the 2020 season, Casper has been the dominate saddle bronc rider. Casper was allowed to count $53,000 that he earned at The American toward the 2020 PRCA world standings. He is ranked No. 1 in saddle bronc world title race with $119,645, which is expected to be more than enough to qualify for the December National Finals in Las Vegas for the first time. Casper said it’s a relief to be living in prosperous times.

“I’ve always kind of scraped from the bottom of the pan,” he said. “It’s going to be nice to be comfortable for a while.”

The bull riding concluded with a tie between two cowboys. All four bull riders were bucked off in the final round, so officials took the top score from the qualifying rounds to determine the champion.

Joao Ricardo Vieira of Decatur, who has been one of the top riders on the Professional Bull Riders circuit, and Sage Kimzey, who has won the PRCA’s bull riding buckle the past six years, tied for first during the qualifying round with scores of 84 and each received $62,500 as co-champions.

The other event winners each received $100,000. They were bareback rider Kaycee Feild (Genola, Utah); break-away roper Kaycee Hollingback (Wilburton, Okla.); steer wrestler Matt Reeves (Cross Plains); barrel racer Stevi Hillman (Weatherford); and team ropers Luke Brown (Stephenville) and Joseph Harrison (Marietta, Okla.).

The American, which began in 2014, was the brainchild of Randy Bernard, a former chief executive officer of RFD-TV and a former Professional Bull Riders CEO. It’s also been backed by Patrick Gottsch, the founder of the RFD-TV and the Cowboy Channel.

The past two years, The American has been sanctioned by the PRCA and some of the prize money earned counts toward PRCA world title races.

“We have had seven years and seven amazing rodeos,” Bernard said. “I truly believe The American Rodeo has been a game-changer for professional rodeo and cowboys. We have changed many lives since 2014 and the event just keeps getting better.”

Houston rodeo cancelled

Officials with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo announced that the rodeo has been canceled Wednesday, March 12, on a directive from Houston city officials due to concerns with the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to prorodeo.com. The rodeo began March 3 and was scheduled to conclude March 22.

“In the interest of public health, the city of Houston and the Houston Health Department have ordered the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ to close,” the rodeo announced in a press release. “The Rodeo will respectfully and dutifully comply with the city’s order.

“The Rodeo is deeply saddened; however, the safety and well-being of our guests and our community is our top priority. Out of precaution, the city has decided that this is the best course of action for our community.”

PBR update

On the Professional Bull Riders circuit, Ramon De Lima, a Brazilian from Decatur, clinched the title at the March 6-8 tour stop in Little Rock, Arkansas. He earned $45,403.

In the world standings, former PBR World Finals qualifier Jose Vitor Leme is ranked No. 1 in the world title race with 543 points. Defending world champion Jess Lockwood is No. 2 with 543.5. Former PBR World Finals qualifier Joao Ricardo Vieira is ranked No. 3 with 522.25.

Calgary Stampede update

The Calgary Stampede and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association announced a new partnership. In recent years, the Calgary rodeo was not sanctioned by the PRCA.

Email Brett at bchoffman777@earthlink.net.

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