This is the final year of a three-year contract the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association has with Express/Lazy E Sports Productions to hold the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City.
But PRCA commissioner Karl Stressman told The Oklahoman on Friday that he expects the rodeo will return to State Fair Arena next year.
“We don't know for sure, but I can tell you the PRCA likes Oklahoma City,” Stressman said. “Our plans are to bring it back unless we run into something unusual.”
Stressman said the PRCA will begin negotiations with Express/Lazy E Sports Productions about the future of the event soon after this week's rodeo has concluded.
“It's taken a little while to get established,” Stressman said of the National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City. “I certainly think we can do better. We can draw bigger crowds. I don't think people understand what it is in comparison to the NFR. This is a top-notch rodeo.”
The National Circuit Finals Rodeo was in Pocatello, Idaho, for 24 years before moving to Oklahoma City three years ago.
“Hopefully, we will be back in Oklahoma City,” Stressman said. “That is certainly our plan.”
GRAVES PULLING DOUBLE DUTY
Bulldogger Stockton Graves of Newkirk is a seven-time qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He also is the rodeo coach at his alma mater, Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva.
“I've slowed down considerably, because my focus is Northwestern,” Graves said. “I am still trying to go to all the big rodeos and make it to my circuit finals and try to get back to Oklahoma City every year.
“If things work out in the winter and I have a chance to make the NFR, I will still chase it, but my main priority is Northwestern.”
Graves compared the National Circuit Finals Rodeo to “a mini-NFR.” The steer wrestling field includes former world champions Luke Branquinho, Dean Gorsuch and Jason Miller.
TRIO TRYING TO DEFEND CIRCUIT TITLES
Three qualifiers to the 2013 National Circuit Finals Rodeo are trying to defend titles they won a year ago at State Fair Arena: team roper Spencer Mitchell of Colusa, Calif.; tie-down roper Matt Shiozawa of Chubbuck, Idaho; and barrel racer Brittany Pozzi of Victoria, Texas, a former two-time world champion.
Last year, Mitchell was a late replacement for the injured Riley Minor.
LAST-MINUTE REPLACEMENT TAKES ADVANTAGE OF OPPORTUNITY
The winner of the first round in the saddle bronc competition wasn't even supposed to be in Oklahoma City this weekend.
On Tuesday, Bradley Harter was sitting at his home in Loranger, La., with no big plans for his weekend.
That's when he got a phone call from an official at the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association asking if he would be interested in being a saddle bronc riding replacement in Oklahoma City for the injured Sterling Crawley.
“They called me two days ago to replace him,” said Harter, a seven-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier. “Thank God I was sitting at home and had nothing to do, so I hopped in the car and came up here.”
Harter rode Powder River Rodeo's Lipstick N Whisky for 86 points on Thursday night to win the first round at State Fair Arena.
“I had a many-time NFR horse that they win rounds on,” Harter said of the athletic bay. “I was really excited to see that was the horse I had.”