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Rodeo: World champion Cooper leads tie-down roping

Victory was shared in the tie-down roping, but we’re not talking money.

Victory, a 12-year-old stallion, carried four cowboys into the rodeo arena Wednesday night, and owner Blair Burk turned in the hot time of 8.3 seconds, while reigning world champion Tuf Cooper turned in a time of 9 seconds to take the lead on two at 18.3 seconds on the opening night of the 25th annual Farm-City Pro Rodeo.

“I chose to enter this rodeo rather than others close to the house,” said Cooper, who hails from Decatur, Texas. “I love Hermiston. It’s good to be back in the Northwest.”

Cooper, 22, who is third in the world standings, will rope in Lovington, N.M., on Friday.

“We’ve been dragging along,” Cooper said. “We’ve had some good wins to keep us up toward the top. I’m excited to have the opportunity to win some more.”

Burk, originally from Durant, Okla., now calls Hermiston home. He said Victory, who is in his second full year on the circuit, doesn’t mind working overtime.

“He likes it,” Burk said. “He works 25 to 30 seconds a week.”

Matt Shiozawa (9.1 seconds) and Cory Solomon (no time) also rode Victory on Wednesday, with Shiozawa having the third best time of the go-round.

Caine Riddle of Vernon, Texas, had a banner night in the bareback event. He drew Starburst for his ride, and he was tabbed for the Coco-Cola showdown for a $500 bonus for 8 seconds of work.

Riddle held on for an 87-point ride on the 10-year-old mare, and pocketed the bonus money.

“I’ve always wanted to get on her,” Riddle said of the horse. “She’s a good one. All the stock here is good and you can really show off. This is a good start to the week.”

Riddle, who just missed the NFR last year, is 21st in the world standings, but only about $8,000 out of the top 15.

“The spring was kind of slow, but there is a lot of money to be had right now,” said Riddle, who also will ride in Lovington and Sikeston, Mo, this week.

In the saddle bronc, last year’s Farm-City champ Taos Muncy, turned in an 84 for the top ride of the night on Redon Acres.

It was the first time Muncy, the reigning world champion from Corona, N.M., had been on the red roan stallion.

“I’ve seen him in Houston and Calgary and I was pretty excited to have him,” Muncy said. “Everything turned out OK.”

The bulls were large and in charge Wednesday, allowing just four legal rides. McKennon Wimberly of Hubbard, Texas, had the top ride of 79, while other cowboys took their share of punishment.

Kasey Love of Caldwell, Idaho, who had a 78 on a nasty black bull named Hell Cat, took an 8-second spin for a 78, but the bull took off after him, head butted him and made him scramble to safety.

Jake Rinehart of Highmore, S.D., had the top run in the steer wrestling at 4.8 seconds, and has the lead on two head at 9.8 seconds.

Travis Carnine of Stanfield and Tyler Pearson of Louisville, Miss., each turfed their steer in 5.3 seconds. Carnine is second on two head at 10.4.

In the team roping, Oregon cowboys Brandon Beers and Cully Safford had the top time of 5.3 second, while in the barrel racing, which had just four runs, Bobo McMillan of Walla Walla had a 17.36-second run.

Note: Korkow Rodeo’s bull Swamp Donkey, who’s made three appearances at the NFR, was retired after last year at the age of 9. Also retired is Bob, 14, a beautiful Korkow mare who made two trips to the NFR in the saddle bronc. She got her name from her branded number — 808.