During this next year I will be reminiscing about what happened 49 years ago in the Ropers Sports News.

Not to bore you young readers, but 49 years ago we were featuring the story about how John Miller and Jerold Camarillo won the Riverside Rancheros 10 steer average. Their time on 10 head was 156.6, in very muddy conditions. This same team had roped in this roping in previous years and held the record of 111.1 on 10 steers in good conditions. It rained for three days and the Riverside, Calif. area was not used to that much rain and it was a mess. In those days they had a calf roping along with the 10 steer roping. Jim Watson won that event with a total time of 84.8 on five head and won a whopping $490 and some great prizes. Louis Tavaglione was the chairman at the time and did all of the presentations. John and Jerold won $1,583 per man for their efforts.

The entry fees at the Riverside Roping were 10 steers for $118 per man and they had 91 teams entered. The calf roping fees were $80 for five head. They also had a barrel race for $20. The fastest time in the team roping was recorded in the tenth go round by Jack Gomez and Sonny Blevins who stopped the clock in 7.0 flat. They won $180 per man for first in the round.  In those days at the end of each round we would report how many broken barriers, how many one foot catches, how many three loop catches (in those days most ropings allowed three loops), and how many teams had gone out of the roping during that round. Only nine teams roped all 10 head and a lot of this was due to the mud. 

The staff for this roping was made up of many volunteers along with timers, Jo Ann Smith, Sue Garat, Barbara Jones and Karen Erickson. Bill Duncan was the official flagman and Okie Livingston was the announcer. This was a place to be in January as it was the start for the big ropings that were held in the team roping world in those days.

Back in those days, the Stardust Hotel would host a roping behind the famed casino right on the Las Vegas Strip. They had a nice arena and barn area behind the main casino and many agriculture events were held there in the early days. Larry Rodrigues of Hilmar, Calif. won the roping with Billy Colli of Chowchilla. Benny Binion of the famed Horseshoe Club would sponsor the saddles which were made by saddle maker, Harlan Webb. The saddles they gave were always something special in design and graphics, and ropers really wanted one of those saddles. One year they had a woman's figure very tastefully carved within the leatherwork. Only in Vegas!

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Ropings and rodeos are off to a good start throughout the country as well as the accompanying events. The main out-of-the-arena event in January is the Cowboy Downhill at Steamboat Springs, Colo. This year saw over 111 participants in the special event. This, to me, is one of the best out-of-the-arena events in pro rodeo anywhere. This year was the 44th annual event and drew many names from the past including world champion team roper David Motes. World champion bull rider Ted Nuce was on hand with his family as well as Clint Johnson. Denny Flynn was there with family, OD and CLN were on hand capturing many wrecks on camera. This year saw many rodeo queens compete from many different states. T-Bone Clark made his appearance. Fred McClanahan, Jr. captured some fine photos with his camera. The winner of the Stampede race was Kris Newman. 

This year’s Downhill again lacked tie-down ropers and team ropers and the main reason is that it is hard to travel that time of year with horses with the snow on the road plus what to do with your horses when you get there. Steer wrestlers were there in good form this year and took home some of the good prizes in the races. Rough stock riders still dominate the event but now know that the steer wrestling competitors are strong and coming after them. 

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Have talked to some of the roping producers in Arizona and it appears that all is going strong in this sunny state for ropers. Many teams at most ropings as well as barrel racers. It is mind boggling where all these ropers come from and how many enter up during these winter months. My Resistol’s off to these producers for all the events they offer during these winter months.

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Make your plans now to attend this year’s Timed Event Championships at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Okla. Twenty of the top timed event cowboys will be there along with 10 top junior timed eventors. The junior event was new last year and went over very well and will continue on again this year. The juniors compete in four events. The juniors do not compete in steer roping. 

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I was fortunate to announce at the Saddle and Sirloin Club in Los Angeles recently, and it is neat to be at this old club that was started back in 1928. Great little arena right north of downtown LA with a fun group of guys who gather to rope and ride along with some team penning, team sorting, and calf branding right alongside Interstate 5. 

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While in LA I stopped in at the Los Alamitos Racetrack to watch a horse that was in training. J.C. Sylvester is training there now so John Growney and I went over with J.C. and watched the morning workouts. 

While there, I ran into Ramon Figueroa. Ramon  was a NFR team roper back in the day before he went to the track to become one of the leading jockeys. He later became a trainer. He looks great and we had a good time telling stories about the good ol’ days. 

Good luck to everyone out there and travel safe.


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