Thursday, September 12, 2019 - 4:45pm
Amanda Morris, Director of Marketing

RIDE TV is SO excited for our friends at the World Champions Rodeo Alliance (WCRA), who just announced that the Triple Crown of Rodeo Bonus for the 2020 season!

This Triple Crown series functions very similarly to that of thoroughbred racing and most equestrian sports with a Triple Crown bonus. There are three key events:

Leg 1: Royal City Roundup in Kansas City, MS on February 28

Leg 2: Stampede at the E in Guthrie, OK on May 17

Leg 3: Puget Sound Showdown in Tacoma, WA on August 28

Win at all three of the above events, win the $1 MILLION Triple Crown Rodeo Bonus!

We are especially excited for the Royal City Roundup and the Puget Sound Showdown, because these events will happen simultaneously with the PBR Unleash the Beast tour stops in these locations. You can watch all of the events on CBS Sports with full broadcast times to be released at a later date.

And GET THIS: the incentive isn’t just limited to the 2020 season. It can cross calendar years! Though the incentive will only be paid one time annually, and it will be split between athletes who achieve this milestone in the same year.

Tickets for the first event in Kansas City go on sale on Nov. 4 and start at just $10! Skip the Starbucks that morning and get yourself a rodeo ticket at sprintcenter.com – this is one you will NOT want to miss.

I was able to chat with two key WCRA competitors to get their take on what the Triple Crown of Rodeo means for them as competitors, as well as for their stock, families and fellow athletes. Keep reading to see highlights from my interview with Michelle Darling, pro barrel racer, and Wyatt Denny, pro bareback rider!

Q: As competitors, what drew you to the WCRA, even before the announcement of the Triple Crown of Rodeo? Michelle: Once you…get on the board and get into the finals, there is so much money up for grabs. The money they put up is unreal, and you only have to make 2 or 3 runs to make that kind of money. 

Wyatt: A bunch of different things: first off would be the money. There are piles of money added to these things…then you get to these events and you’re getting on the best stock in the world. It’s the most even possible rodeo as far as [bareback riding] goes…then you’ve got the atmosphere – the places that [WCRA Rodeos] are held are pretty cool places; every one of them is like a once in a lifetime experience. 

Q: Michelle, what kind of benefit does it give your horse to only have to make a few runs to win big? Michelle: To me, this is a great deal, because I am very conscious about where I run my horse and how many times per year I run her. They don’t have that many runs in them. If I can go to 5-10 WCRA events and win this kind of money instead of 80, that’s a game changer. This year alone through the WCRA I have won $90-something-thousand in 8 or 9 runs. A lot of girls haul all year and go to 80 or 80 rodeos to win $100,000.

Q: Does that have an effect on how you balance your family life? Michelle: 100% it has a lot to do with when I go and where I go. The kids go with me, but they are in school, so our schedule is cut short. But with WCRA we know exactly when and where we need to be, so it’s easier for us to coordinate. There are a lot of girls out there who want to rodeo, but they have 2-3 kids and feel like they aren’t able to do so.

Q: What kind of impact is this Triple Crown of Rodeo going to have on the industry? Michelle: People are catching on that the WCRA is letting us have fewer runs a year for a lot more money and a lot less hauling time, fuel expenses, wear and tear on the horses…it’s going to make a huge impact on rodeo. Not even just for the #1 athletes out there right now, but everybody. It gives everybody a shot to get into these rodeos…to me this is a huge game changer to let everyone participate and give everyone an opportunity.

Wyatt: It would have to draw the biggest names in rodeo. You can’t pass up a $1 million opportunity if you ride bucking horses. There is a limited amount of time that we get to do this. The first one is really going to be a big “whoa – this is real.” It’s going to bring the best of the best to the table.

Q: Which of the three Triple Crown events are you most excited for? Michelle: I am going to try to go to all of them…the more you win puts you at the top of the leaderboard! I went to Green Bay and Chicago last year…to win $50,000 in two runs [in Green Bay] last year was the highlight of my career and I hope I get to do it again.

Wyatt: I know that Kansas City is a happening town – that one will be pretty energetic…they all have their own atmosphere…I do think the Kansas City one is going to be a banger.

Q: How do you overcome the mental pressure knowing that there could be $1 Million on the line? Michelle: I know my horse is going to do her job if I do my job…I try to have fun, every time I have fun there has been always been a big win behind it…I don’t let [the mental pressure] get to me…I an prepared, I have done my homework and whatever happens, happens. I am very nervous, but as long as I know I have done all of my work and put 100% into it, it’s just fate.

Wyatt: The battle in our event is with the animal. I just try to go in there level-headed and calm and think about the best ride I can make. I rarely have anything going through my mind except how can I win against this animal?

Q: What does $1 Million mean to the average rodeo competitor? Michelle: People don’t realize what it costs to own horses, the vet bills, the expenses of hauling. That’s a lot of money to keep someone going and winning.

Wyatt: There is endless possibilities to what you can do with $1 million. A lot of guys…have some sort of ranching lifestyle back home. It could make that business flourish or even their rodeo careers…you could live on the road comfortably and not have to worry about anything but nodding your head.

Q: If you won the $1 Million bonus, what’s the first thing you would buy? Wyatt: I would go and buy some land, a lot of land…there’s a piece next to my parent’s property and that might put a nice downpayment on it.

Q: Tell us about your horse! Michelle: Her name is Morning Traffic, we call her Martini. She’s by Frenchman’s Guy…I bought her as a two-year-old…She is a waspy little mare…Stevi Hillman ran her and qualified for her first NFR on Martini and another horse. She won Pendleton, which was a big deal because she is a little mare! She is just 1 in a million.

Q: What is your dream ride? Michelle: My dream ride…it would have to be Kristie Peterson’s horse, Bozo. He was just fun to watch!

Wyatt: If I were to pick a horse, it would be [Pickett Pro Rodeo’s] Uncapped

Q: Why should viewers tune in to watch these events? Michelle: It’s a shorter rodeo and a lot more action-packed with a lot more money on the line. It’s just a new category of rodeo!

Wyatt: Every one of the majors is on CBS Sports and times will be announced soon!

Thanks to Michelle Darling and Wyatt Denny for the awesome interviews. We totally agree – the WCRA Triple Crown of Rodeo is a #GameChanger and we can’t wait for February when it kicks off!

For more info on the WCRA Triple Crown of Rodeo, visit triplecrownofrodeo.com.

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