By Tom Zulewski
Iron County Today
With the pressure building and the gold buckle looming on the horizon, Ryder Wright is starting to stake his claim for his first saddle bronc world title at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
The 19-year-old from Milford won his third go-round in Round 8 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on Thursday night, scoring a 92 aboard Show Me Again from Powder River Rodeo and collecting another $26,230 payday.
With the victory – and the first score of 90 or better in the 10-day event – Wright moved to the top of the money standings with $247,284 and only two rounds left before the gold buckles are awarded. Wright leads Jacobs Crawley – who finished out of the money with a 77.5-point ride Thursday – by nearly $21,000.
Also lurking in the chase for the title is brother-in-law CoBurn Bradshaw. The Beaver resident finished fourth in Round 8 with an 87-point ride aboard Dakota Babe from JK Rodeo, good for an $11,000 paycheck.
Bradshaw bumped his season money total up to $213,230 and kept the No. 3 spot in the standings. His score also moved him back to the top of the average over Brody Cress with 671 points on eight head.
The margin in the battle for the $67,269 bonus check between Bradshaw and Cress sits at a single point heading to Round 9, with Sterling Crawley 15 points behind in third place. Ryder Wright has scored 615.5 points on seven head, but sits fifth in the average.
Action from Round 9 of the WNFR continues Friday starting at 8 p.m. and can be seen live on CBS Sports Network.