Las Vegas • For Caleb Bennett and Jake Wright, the $6.25 million Wrangler National Finals Rodeo couldn't have gotten off to a better start.
Bennett, who is from Morgan, Utah, won the bareback event during the first round Thursday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Wright, who is from Milford, Utah, won the saddle bronc riding.
Bennett, making the third career appearance in the National Finals, scored an 85.5 and earned $18,629 for his opening-round victory. He took the lead on the first ride of the night and watched the other 14 NFR qualifiers fail to beat it.
Kaycee Feild of Spanish Fork, who is seeking his third consecutive world bareback championship, got off to a decent start by finishing in a three-way tie for fourth place.
Feild's score of 83.5 matched Ty Breuer of Mandan, N.D., and Casey Colletti of Pueblo, Colo., and was worth $5,208.
In saddle bronc, Wright prevailed with a score of 84 points. One of three brothers who qualified for the National Finals, his victory was also worth $18,629 and moved him from seventh to third in the overall world standings.
His brother, Cody Wright, finished tied for fourth in the first round with a 79. He earned $6,319 and maintained his lead in the world championship race.
Meanwhile, in the bull riding, Steve Woolsey of Payson finished third on opening night with an 86. He earned $11,117.