Milford's Cody Wright took all the suspense out of the saddle bronc world championship race at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo on Friday night, when he won Round 9 and clinched the title with one performance remaining.
Combined with the no-scores posted by Billy Etbauer and J.J. Elshere - his closest rivals - Wright's score of 85 and the $16,766 he earned wrapped up his championship.
Informed in the Thomas & Mack Center interview room that he clinched the title, Wright smiled and said: "That's what I've been shooting for. It's awesome - a dream come true. It's been an awesome season."
Riding a horse named Wild Bill, Wright overcame a nervous moment in the middle of his eight-second ride to score his third victory in nine rounds at the National Finals.
"I had a pretty good horse tonight," Wright said. "I didn't know a lot about him. I couldn't even find anybody who'd rode him. . . . I saw him the other night. Chad [Ferley] had him and didn't stay on him very long, so I was pretty nervous."
It didn't show.
"He left good - the first two jumps were real nice," Wright said. "Then he got me a little bit. I wasn't able to spur for a couple of jumps. But I finished him better than I rode him in the middle and it worked out better than I thought it would."
With Round 10 remaining, Wright has already earned $74,639 at the National Finals. This season, he has banked $219,831.
"He's a machine," said Oakley saddle bronc rider Anthony Bello. "That guy rides real good. He deserves the world title."
Bello had a good night, too.
He tied for second behind Wright with a score of 79. Competing with a painful rib injury, Bello earned $11,628. It was his first check at the National Finals.
"I guess I can come off suicide watch," Bello said.
Meanwhile, in the bull riding, neither Steve Woolsey of Payson, Wesley Silcox of Payson nor Shawn Proctor of Tooele posted a score.
In bareback riding, Kaycee Feild of Elk Ridge posted a score of 77 in Round 9, but it was not good enough to earn another paycheck. Still, Feild had three straight top-four finishes earlier in the week - including a win Tuesday night. He has earned $37,048 at his first National Finals.
Milford's Cody Wright wrapped up the saddle bronc world championship by winning the event Friday night.
* Today's 10th and final performance of the National Finals Rodeo starts at 8 p.m. MST and will be televised on ESPN2.