Rodeo's Wright brothers are flying high
If you don't think Utah's Wright brothers are enjoying a dream rodeo season, you'd be wrong.
Cody, Jesse, Jake and Alex Wright are among the leading money-winners in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association saddle bronc standings.
Since the top 15 in each event during the regular season qualify for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, the sport's signature event could turn into a family affair in December.
Milford's Cody Wright, who has won two of the last three world championships, currently leads the saddle bronc standings with earnings of more than $56,000.
Meanwhile, Milford's Jesse Wright ranked 11th, Jake Wright of Hurricane was 18th and Alex Wright of Virgin occupied 34th place going into the weekend.
Four of the top 34 saddle bronc riders in the world are brothers from Utah members of a family that includes nine other siblings.
The Wrights say they get along like friends, not brothers.
That's important, since all four usually travel together and compete in the same rodeos on the same nights.
At 34, Cody Wright is the oldest of the saddle bronc brothers.
Their relationship, he says, "is just great. We pull for each other and, if you have a bad night, they are right there to pick you up."
Rusty Allen of Eagle Mountain is another Utah saddle bronc rider.
Currently among the top 15 in the world standings, he travels with the Wrights to many of their rodeos and marvels at their relationship.
"They're a real tight group with a unique dynamic about them," Allen said. "There isn't that brotherly conflict within those guys. They all want each other to do as well as they can possibly do. ...
"They all want to win but, if anybody beats them, they want it to be one of their brothers. ... They'd like to finish first through fourth wherever they go."
Cody Wright is the most accomplished of the four brothers so far.
He has qualified for eight National Finals and has earned more than $1.5 million in his career since joining the PRCA in 1998.
This year, he has already won big rodeos in Fort Worth and Odessa, Texas.
"The other guys really respect his accomplishments," Allen said. "It's neat because a lot of people get so competitive within their own family. But it's just not that way with those guys."
The Wright brothers' relationship extends all the way to the way they do business.
For their rodeo expenses, they share a credit card, which makes Allen laugh and shake his head.
"When you start mixing finances in, it can get a little tricky a little testy," he said. "But not for those guys. They are all so humble and appreciative of the circumstances and the opportunity to do this as a family."
One of the secrets to the Wrights' success is the effort they put into their craft.
They don't simply travel from rodeo to rodeo, jump on the back of the horse they have drawn and move on to the next stop.
They all work at physical conditioning, which is something that has rubbed off on Allen.
"When they have some idle time, they don't sit around," he said. "They work out more than anybody I've ever been around. They've been a good influence on me, I can tell you that."
In the $488,000 Reno Rodeo that concluded Saturday night, the brothers kept rolling.
Cody Wright tied for second in the first round, won the final round and finished second in the average. He earned $7,700.
Jesse Wright won the first round, finished sixth in the second round, finished second in the third round and won the average. He pocketed almost $10,000.
Jake Wright finished fourth in the first round and ended up tied for seventh in the average, which added more than $1,800 to his bank account.
Allen calls such success well-deserved.
"They grew up working hard and not taking anything for granted," he said. "It shows in everything they do. ... They realize they have to earn everything."
Sibling success stories
Some other famous brother combinations in sports:
• Baseball's DiMaggio brothers Â Joe, Dom and Vince played in 22 All-Star Games. Joe is a Hall of Famer and a three-time MVP with a .325 career batting average.
• Peyton and Eli Manning are two of the NFL's best quarterbacks. Peyton is a four-time Most Valuable Player. Both have been the MVP of the Super Bowl.
• Six Sutter brothers Brent, Brian, Darryl, Duane, Rich and Ron played in more than 5,000 NHL games in the 1970s and 1980s. They won six Stanley Cups.
• Phil and Tony Esposito played in a combined 16 NHL All-Star Games. Phil scored 717 goals in 18 seasons. Both brothers are in the Hall of Fame.
• Pitchers Phil and Joe Niekro were masters of the knuckleball. Phil, a Hall of Famer, won 318 games. Joe won 221 games. They pitched a combined 8,988 innings.