Caleb Smidt Show: Half of NFR 2023 Go-Rounds Belong to Smidt Through Round 6
With three round wins, Caleb Smidt has officially surpassed his personal record for most rounds won during an NFR, taking Round 6 with a 6.8-second run.
Caleb Smidt slam dunks another round win at the 2023 NFR with a 6.8-second run.
Caleb Smidt slam dunks another round win at the 2023 NFR with a 6.8-second run. Photo by Jamie Arviso

Caleb Smidt backed into the box during the matinee Round 6 performance of the 2023 NFR on Wednesday, Dec. 13, with a round-winning calf in the chute and a Round 5 victory at his back.

The cards played in his favor, and he tied in 6.8 seconds—both the fastest run of the NFR so far and only 0.2 seconds back from Smidt’s personal best in the Thomas & Mack.

“It happened fast,” reigning World Champion Smidt said. “I had a really good, fast-handling calf Riley won Round 3 on. I knew if I got a good start, got her caught and tied her well, I’d win at least third.”

With three go-round wins at the 2023 NFR, Smidt’s beaten a personal record of rounds won at the NFR.

“In years past I’ve been in the average, and come Round 5 or 6, if you’re in the average you’re not trying to go 6 seconds,” Smidt explained. “That’s not a factor for me this year. It’s fun to be here and rope for this kind of money—$30,000 a perf and $80,000 to win the average. You can’t beat it.”

With the win, his gelding Pockets is officially the highest-earning horse in the 2023 NFR with $102,118 secured. The next closest is Riley Webb with $95,680 in winnings, which he earned on two horses.

Caleb Smidt Math

While some ropers are gunning for No. 1 in the round, Smidt has his eyes set on… No. 3?

“That’s all I’m trying to do here—win at least third every night,” Smidt said. “If you win third every night, you’d win the average and about $250,000.” ($183,240 in round money and $78,747 to win the average.)

To me, a lot of people want to win first and try to go too fast—they beat themselves,” Smidt said. “But I pray for patience when I back in there, let it all happen in front of me and don’t get caught up in trying to win first. That’s always been my mentality; that’s what Justin Maass taught me and I’ve stuck with it.”

Caleb Smidt Leads NFR Veteran Domination in Round 6

Every check was won by an NFR veteran in Round 6, with the NFR rookies bumped out with times in the 9- and 10-second range.  

PlaceAthleteRound 6 timeMoneyNFR Qualifications
1Caleb Smidt6.8$30,70610
2Tuf Cooper7.2$24,26715
3Shad Mayfield7.4$13,0415
3Haven Meged7.4$13,0415
3Hunter Herrin7.4$13,04113
6Shane Hanchey7.5$4,95214

The Next Generation

Smidt took a moment to revel in tying the black steer 0.1 of a second faster than Webb did in Round 3.

“He made a great run—he’s one of the roping-est guys I’ve seen in a long time,” Smidt said. “The younger generation is fast. From the stirrup to the flank and tie, they’re awful quick. It’s fun to watch. I have a lot of respect for what Riley’s done this year, but I am going to rub it in that I tied that calf faster.”

Reflecting on Blessings

As Smidt surpassed $100K earned at his 10th NFR, and roped the fastest time of the event so far, he took a moment to be grateful.

“My horse is still really good at 16 years old, and I draw good calves, and I try to make my run and see what happens,” Smidt said. “It’s worked out the last two nights. It’s been a blessing to have the career I’ve had. What I’ve won in my career is past anything I had planned—I just wanted to rope and have fun. God’s blessed me with this horse.”

Smidt’s looking forward to the Round 7 performance of the NFR taking place this evening, Wednesday, Dec. 13.