By BRAD KEITH
(February 19, 2017) — Stephenville cowboy Marty Yates crossed another championship off his rodeo bucket list Sunday, the most profitable day of his professional career.
Yates, 23, won the RFD-TV American tie-down roping championship in an AT&T Stadium-record 6.65 seconds, claiming a $100,000 in addition to other prizes.
“It’s most definitely one of those big rodeos you dream of winning,” said Yates. “Each year we set new goals and winning The American was definitely one of them.”
Yates was busy over the weekend, winning the Cinch Calf Roping championship and $12,000 in San Angelo on Saturday.
He won both on his new horse, Big Time.
“I have to give Big Time a lot of credit. I’ve won $130,000 on him and I’ve had him less than a month,” said Yates. “If I didn’t have him, I don’t know that everything would be clicking the way it is right now.”
The Huckabay High School graduate has qualified three times for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, almost winning the 2016 world title with round money alone at the NFR in Las Vegas. He’s also a past winner of the Ram National Circuit Finals, the Cheyenne Frontier Days, or ‘The Daddy’ as those in the rodeo refer to it, and other prestigious titles.
“You grow up hearing about and seeing guys win The Daddy, so that was a big goal, and of course the Ram National Finals is big,” he said. “And the biggest goal early in my career I accomplished a couple years ago when I made my first NFR.”
But never had Yates won close to $100,000 in a single day. And that’s not even counting the value of other prizers awarded to champions of The American.
In four short years, the RFD-TV event has secured its spot among the biggest and best rodeos in the world. Top competitors in the world are invited and compete for up to $100,000, while competitors who move through qualifiers and semifinals to reach the main event at AT&T Stadium share an additional $1 million bonus if they come out on top.
“It used to be impossible to win that much money at one rodeo and to get to do it at such a great (venue), it really is one of the best days of my career,” Yates said. “I was just trying to go as fast as I could, and even after I was done, I knew there were three more great guys going behind me and that they were all coming for me.”
Yates went 6.87 for third in the long round and a spot in the shootout. Fastest-time events with no average are especially suiting for Yates, who admits he only knows one speed – all out.
“To me it doesn’t really change because I go all out every round and try to win as much as I can every time,” he said. “Some people think that’s not the right mind set, but that’s just who I am, I let it all hang out there.”
Some call The American a life-changing rodeo. But Yates doesn’t plan on changing much. The semifinal and, he hopes, final rounds at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo are next Thursday through Saturday, and of course there is always another National Finals Rodeo to grind toward.
“It never really stops,” Yates said. “We’re right back at it in San Antonio next week, and that’s a big one, too.”