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Days of ’47 Rodeo: In tie for 8th, Bennett’s still giddy over jackpot

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Caleb Bennett, Morgan, competes in the Bareback Riding competition, in the Days of '47 Rodeo at EnergySolutions Arena, Wednesday, July 24, 2013.

By Steve Luhm

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Jul 24 2013 09:46PM
Updated Dec 7, 2013 11:36PM

Caleb Bennett didn’t make much money at the Days of ’47 Rodeo, which concluded Wednesday night at EnergySolutions Arena.

Still, it’s been a week to remember for the bareback bronc rider from Morgan, Utah.

Just seven days ago, Bennett scored a 92 at the Calgary Stampede and pocketed the $100,000 first-place prize money.

"It was kind of a dream come true," Bennett said. "Calgary is a rodeo that we all dream about going to. It’s invitation only, so just to get to go up there is an honor. To walk away with the title is pretty humbling, pretty unreal. I couldn’t have been more tickled. I still don’t think it’s sunk in, even now."

Did the prize money come in Canadian or U.S. currency?

"Canadian," Bennett said. "But it still converted pretty good."

During the final performance at the Days of ’47 Rodeo, Bennett drew a horse named Major Motion. He rode him once last year and scored 75 points. This time, he managed an 82, leaving him tied for eighth in the Days of ’47 standings, which was worth $248.

Asked about Major Motion, Bennett said, "We call him an eliminator. A lot of guys don’t like to come and get on a horse like that. But I wanted to come, get on him and prove I could spur him. And I got an 82, so I think I did my job."

Last season, Bennett qualified for the National Finals Rodeo for the first time. In Las Vegas, he won a round, placed in three others and finished seventh in the final world standings.

"A guy ask me the other day, ‘What was a better experience, winning Calgary or winning [a round] at the NFR?’ " Bennett said. "But, you know, it’s sixes. We all grow up dreaming about both of them. They are two amazing experiences. It’s a blessing I’ve already been lucky enough to experience them both."

Bennett, however, faces an uphill fight to make a return trip to the National Finals.

Only the top-15 money winners in each event qualify. Currently, he’s 22nd in the world, with official earnings of $26,216 because the huge payday in Calgary does not count toward NFR qualifying.

Bennett has won two Utah rodeos this season — Delta and Cedar City. He also took home the top check at Arcadia, Fla.

Still, Bennett is just over $6,000 out of the top 15 in the bareback standings.

"We’re in crack-down season right now," Bennett said. "I’ve got to start entering and hopefully start drawing the best ones and then win. But I’m bound and determined to get back there."

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