By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (September 25, 2015) — In tie-down roping, there is nothing typical about a 7.5-second run at Lone Star Arena.
And there sure isn’t anything typical about the way Marty Yates pulled off his 7.5 to grab the lead after slack at the Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo Friday morning. The performances are 7 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
How atypical was the performance by Yates?
Consider these fun facts.
Yates competed in Omaha and Kansas City earlier this week and was under the impression he would have to turn out in Stephenville. That would have meant no hometown rodeo for the second straight year for the 2013 Huckabay graduate who entered this week No. 3 in the world after reaching his first National Finals Rodeo and finishing sixth in the world in 2014.
*Watch Yates and Chicken grab the lead in 7.5 seconds Friday morning with the link below:
But Yates, with the help of family, made it happen.
His mother, Angie Yates, and grandmother, Barbara Hampton, made the trip to Kansas City Thursday, retrieving their young superstar and transporting him back to Stephenville overnight.
“It was awesome because I didn’t think I was going to get to rope here,” Yates said. “Mom and Grandma drove all night and we got here at 8:15 and roped right after 8:30.”
And then there’s the reunion with his horse. The unflappable Chicken, the 2014 reserve grand champion quarter horse of the year.
Yates had not competed aboard Chicken since the Houston Rodeo in March, when Chicken was injured.
“Me and him just have such a great bond that’s been a long time building. We’ve been through a lot and this year without him wasn’t very fun. I don’t like leaving him at home,” Yates said. “But the biggest part of the season is the NFR, and it’s right around the corner. Chicken is in really good shape now and ready to go.”
Catfish Brown won the tie-down roping last year at Stephenville in 7.7 seconds, two-tenths slower than Yates and Chicken Friday morning. Though there are several world class ropers ahead in the weekend performances, Yates is confident his 7.5 will bode well.
“Seven and five is a really good run here. I hope it wins,” Yates said. “If nothing else, it will be in the top few. That’s why I’m so proud of Chicken that we did that on our first run back together.”
He’s also proud to have done it at home.
“It’s always nice to rope in your hometown. Everywhere we go all year you see guys who are hometown favorites here or there, and it was nice to have that work in my favor today,” Yates said. “It’s always good to rope where everyone knows you and pulls for you.”
Par for the course with a serious contender in rodeo, Yates is already headed out of town once again. Angie Yates is delivering Marty to the Tri-State Fair & Rodeo in Amarillo tonight, then Marty will fly back to Kansas City while Angie and Chicken return home. Marty will take his “other rig” from Kansas City to Omaha for the finals of the Justin Boots Championships. Yates is currently third in the opening round there with a 7.9.
The busy finishing push is all in an effort to be in the best possible position entering the NFR in December. The most recently updated world standings on prorodeo.com show Yates third with $94,715.88 in PRCA earnings this season. Timber Moore, also in the running at Omaha, is second with $104,823.18. Reigning world champ Tuf Cooper is first with $122,979.46.
“It’s nice to be winning somewhere in the last week of the season. Last week was my only dry week since I came back from the summer rush, and that kind of ticked me off,” Yates said. “Placing in Omaha (Thursday) night, then having the great run today, it’s good to finish strong. I’m hoping to be second in the world heading into the NFR.”
And first when the NFR is complete.
“That’s what it’s all about right now is that world championship buckle,” said Yates. “That’s what we’re all out here chasing after and trying to win.”