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Los Olivos cowboy in the race for the NFR

Los Olivos cowboy in the race for the NFR

From the Series: Welcome Back! Santa Maria Elks Rodeo returns to the Unocal Event Center for Summer tradition series
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Los Olivos cowboy Cody Snow tries to rope a calf during a District 7 high school rodeo in Oct. 2014 at the Elks Unocal Events Center. Snow, now 23, is the leading team roper (header) on the Pro Rodeo Tour and in fourth place in the PRCA world standings.

Cody Snow is in first and fifth place.

The 23-year-old Los Olivos cowboy is currently the leading team roper (header) on the Pro Rodeo Tour. Snow is also fifth in the PRCA/Ram world standings.

By either measure – nearly 2,100 Pro Rodeo Tour points and more than $48,000 – Snow is on pace to earn a fourth straight trip to December’s National Finals Rodeo (NFR), where he finished fourth in 2018.

When professional rodeo’s regular season ends Sept. 30, the top 15 money winners in each event lock in their spots at the NFR. There are still rodeos after the Sept. 30 cutoff, but those results count toward the next season.

Many cowboys qualify for the NFR through the Pro Rodeo Tour.

The Tour is made up of 55 rodeos, mostly in western states, that began with January’s National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver and ends with the Tour Final in Puyallup, Wash., Sept. 5-8.

Cowboys earn both points and dollars on the Pro Rodeo Tour.

“So it’s dollar-for-dollar to get to the NFR but the regular season Pro Rodeo Tour now has a points system,” said James Miller in a recent telephone interview. Miller is a member of the PRCA Rodeo Committee Executive Committee and the Director of the Red Bluff Roundup, one of the stops of the Pro Rodeo Tour. “The points change depending on the size of the rodeo, the number of contestants. Cowboys win more points at the larger rodeos.”

The 76th annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo is the 21st stop on the Tour.

“That’s why Santa Maria getting included is so important,” said Johnna Clark, the Elks Rodeo media director at the rodeo kickoff press conference in early February. “There are about 600 annual rodeos in the United States. If you’re not a top 55 rodeo, then there’s no reason for cowboys to compete. This means that Santa Maria is a must-attend destination. We’re all really excited they included medium-sized rodeos in their top 55.”

“The points system should improve the fields at official Tour stops,” said Miller. “You should really see strong fields – the top guys who are trying to earn invitations to Puyallup and improve their chances of making the NFR.”

Competitors are trying to be among the top 24 by the Tour Final.

“Only the top 24 (in points) are invited to the Tour Final,” said Miller. “There’s a large sum of money at stake at the Washington State Fair Rodeo in Puyallup. That’s what it’s all about. The cowboys are chasing a lot of money. The Puyallup winners can really give themselves a boost toward making the NFR.”

The farther they go at Puyallup, the more money is at stake.

“The competitors will try to get into the top 12 because the last day at Puyallup, a large chunk of money is added to the prize pool,” said Miller.

Those cowboys who don’t make it to Puyallup will have to try to make up the money difference somewhere else but there’ll be very few chances left to do that before the regular season ends.

“There’s a big money rodeo a week later at Pendleton (Oregon). And there are rodeos in Lewiston (Idaho) and Albuquerque (N.M.) but time is running out,” said Miller.

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