In playoff sports, once the postseason rolls around, the regular season means nothing. In rodeo, money won at some backwater rodeo counts just as much as money won at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The difference, of course, is there’s so much more to be won in Vegas. There’s very little reason to think a cowboy who has performed well all year will suddenly fail to do so in Las Vegas. That’s why we’re going with the favorites, or picking chalk as the saying goes—with only a few exceptions.
THE RACE: Without a doubt, year-in and year-out, steer wrestling is the most competitive event in the arena and the most difficult to pick outside of it. The reigning world champion, Hunter Cure, came from the seventh position and $40,000 down last year to claim the title. It’s tempting to go off our theory of picking chalk and tab four-time world champion Luke Branquinho as our favorite—he’s lurking in that same vicinity—but we’ll resist.
Trevor Knowles was our pick last year, and we’re hoping we were just a year off. He leads the field, albeit by a slim margin, and will surely be mounted on one of the top horses there. This will be his 11th consecutive Wrangler NFR and we think he’s poised for the gold buckle.
The Pick: Trevor Knowles
World Titles: 0
Wrangler NFRs: 11
Biggest 2014 Win: Rancho Mission Viejo (Calif.) Rodeo