HERMISTON, Ore. -- When it comes to western classics, no one beats John Wayne.
Except Ryan MacKenzie.
On Wednesday night, MacKenzie turned in an 84-point ride on John Wayne for the top score in the saddle bronc on the opening night of the 24th annual Farm-City Pro Rodeo.
"I've been on him once before in Ellensburg," said the Jordan Valley, Ore, cowboy, who also noted he only scored a 75. "He's a really nice horse and it's fun to get on him. This is one of my better rides of the year."
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MacKenzie hasn't won a paycheck in three weeks and is hoping his score holds up for a bit of money.
"It's been really slow," MacKenzie said. "Hopefully, I get a lot out of this."
Clayton Savage is looking for a big payday in the bull riding, and he may just get it.
The Cheyenne, Wyo., cowboy held on for an 87-point spin on Whiskey Jack -- one of just four to post a legal ride in a field of 14.
"I haven't been on him, but I've heard a lot of stories about him," said Savage, who also took a spin around the bull's horns before he hit the dirt. "They said he bucks pretty hard. I flew down here and I knew I'd better give it my best shot. I've been in the top 15 this year and I'm on the bubble. A check here would really help out."
Tom McFarland of Arizona was the top man in the bareback, scoring an 81 on Licorice Baby.
"That's a great horse. I've wanted to get on him for a long time," McFarland said. "He's rider friendly and guys have been winning a lot of money on him."
With a miss on his first steer, Curtis Cassidy won't be taking home the steer wresting title, but he hopes to leave Hermiston with a nice paycheck after his 5.9-second run.
"I'll tell you after Saturday if that was a good run," Cassidy said. "He was a slow steer. They are out of Cheyenne and they are big. They have the advantage on their side -- they weigh 600 pounds and we weigh 200."
Cassidy has had his struggles this season, but won $18,000 on July 4.
"I've been going hard the last couple of weeks and nothing," said the Canadian cowboy. "We are going to be up here in the northwest for a few weeks and hopefully I can do good. I've been coming to the northwest the last 10 years and last year was my best ever. Every bit helps."
Timber Moore had the hot run of the night in tie-down roping at 8.6 seconds, but Clif Cooper's 9.4, combined with his earlier run, gave him the top time of 20.5 seconds on two head.
There were only six times posted in the team roping, with veterans Turtle Powell and Jhett Johnson turning in the top time of 4.5 seconds.
The barrel racers had a tough night. Two horses didn't want to run the course -- including one that dumped its rider -- and Serena Mote knocked over a barrel. Rachel Stoller's 17.5-second run was the best of the night.
-- All in the family: Curtis Cassidy and his brother Cody are cousins of former Tri-City Americans defenseman Cole Butterfield.
-- Lovin' and leaving: Korkow Rodeos retired bull Swamp Donkey, 8, who is in a breeding program in Idaho this summer. They also parted ways with Bob, a beautiful bucking horse. The mare, whose number 808 looked like BOB on her backside, hence the name, was sold for $12,000 to Canadian Vern McDonald.
-- High flying: Metal Mulisha entertained the crowd before the chutes opened. Freestyle motocross riders Justin Homan and Robert Haslam entertained the crowd with jumps, stunts and full backward revolutions on their bikes. They will be back for another performance tonight.