There is a strategy to Cory Solomon’s tie-down roping at this year’s National Finals Rodeo and it revolves around his equine partner.
When Solomon was preparing for last year’s NFR, his great horse Making A Play wasn’t 100%, so he switched to his palomino, “Cisco,” and won more than $128,000. This year, it was the opposite for the Prairie View, Texas, resident. Before the NFR, Cisco was a little sore, so it was back to the horse that came from Brazil. “Play” got the call and Cisco is biding time in the stalls as a backup.
For the first two nights, Solomon knew that he didn’t draw at the top of the pen and was conservative from the get-go. When he saw the draw for Round 3, his strategy changed.
His first two runs added up to a solid 17.6 seconds. Then, he stopped the clock in 6.9 to win the round and add $28,918 to his season earnings. While it is early in the marathon that is rodeo’s championships, Solomon is second in the average behind Caleb Smidt, who claimed the round wins both of the previous nights. Smidt’s total earnings through three rounds have him $4,326 behind world standings leader Shad Mayfield.
1-2 Punch: Caleb Smidt Gets Back-To-Back NFR Round Wins & No. 2 World Ranking
Playing for Keeps
Solomon, 32, travels with the 2017 World Champion Marcos Costa and values his advice.
“Marcos told me to get on Play and stay on him no matter what,” Solomon said. “Cisco is here and he is feeling great, but I really want to give Play a chance. Tonight, I knew I had a good calf. I got a good start, [and] she kind of slowed up when I roped her. I held my slack and then, when I got to her, I tried to slow down to speed up. I’m just blessed to ride a horse like that—one that gives me a chance every time.”
While Solomon opted for Cisco in 2021, it wasn’t because Play hadn’t proved himself worthy of the world stage. In 2020, Solomon was the 16th man in regular season. When Caleb Smidt wasn’t able to compete because of Covid-19, Solomon loaded Play in the trailer, and they headed north to Arlington. They finished fifth in the world.
“This year has been a blessing on Play all year,” he said. “I asked God to guide me on which one to ride; He led me to Play. Play has gotten me so many big wins this year and I just needed to ride him here. This horse deserves to be here.”
Round 3 Roundup
Finishing second for the second time was the reigning college champion and first-time qualifier Kincade Henry. Henry started out in 15th place but, with the $55,702 that he has won here so far, he has moved up to seventh. A no-time in Round 2 has him out of the average. He stopped the clock in 7.4 seconds on Saturday night to win $22,851.
There was a tie for third and fourth between John Douch and Smidt with 7.5-second runs to earn $14,690 each. It took a 7.7 to place on this pen. The final spot was another tie between Haven Meged and Tyler Milligan who each collected $2,332.
Inside Scoop: NFR Tie-Down Field a Mixed Bag of World Champs and Newcomers