Hi guys, this is Chelsea (managing editor here at STW). I’m borrowing Bob’s blog today.
We just got our November issue back from the printer. We sent the files to be printed about a week after the regular season ended. As you’ve either seen or will see, we put Cesar de la Cruz on the cover. At that time, we were aware that there was a potential challenge on the books as to whether or not Tom Richards and de la Cruz were over their rodeo count—meaning they couldn’t count their winnings in Omaha and thus, not make the Finals. We took a gamble, what we thought was a slight one, and put Cesar on the cover with a great image we had on file, and I wrote a pretty long article about how Tom and Cesar dominated Omaha en route to making the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
A bit of insight: We are all in pretty regular contact with these guys, from those directly involved to their friends advocating on their behalf. We had a pretty good idea of the arguments each way, on and off the record, and we thought we’d gotten enough clarity to proceed. All along, though, the PRCA said the standings were unofficial, awaiting challenges and an audit. However, we had a strong inclination that PROCOM had clarified the mistake with how Tom and Cesar entered Stephenville (but then turned out and attempted to unofficial it). That was the original situation that raised questions as to whether they were over their rodeo count. Our phones rang off the hook with cowboys calling us to try to figure out what happened and how Tom and Cesar had gone about “unofficial-ing” Stephenville. Tom and Cesar were pretty certain they’d done everything by the books. Tom had even gone to the PRCA’s headquarters the Monday after Omaha, on his way to the Turquoise Circuit Finals, to make sure everything was in order. He told us he’d been reassured on site that he would be roping in the Thomas & Mack for 10 days in December. We also got confirmation from Cesar that they were in.
We pressed send on the issue. We all knew that it could be overturned, but we thought we’d checked with enough sources that we should be safe.
Then, last Thursday, the text messages started to come in from guys telling me they’d heard the PRCA had ruled in favor of Chad Masters and Kinney Harrell, meaning Tom and Cesar were out. Garrett Tonozzi, the PRCA’s team roping director, called me to confirm it, and the next day the PRCA released a statement on the matter.
Right now, we’re waiting, just like you are, to hear the results of the secondary appeal that Tom Richards and Cesar de la Cruz filed. They had 10 days to put an appeal together. They’re currently in the second of three steps of the process, and should have an answer early next week, according to PRCA spokesman Jim Bainbridge. Entries for the WNFR open Oct. 27 and close Oct. 28, so the goal is obviously to have this sorted out by then.
I’m bummed that there’s confusion, and I sure hate that we will confuse you when you get your issue in the mail in the next week or so. Regardless, Tom and Cesar roped outstanding in Omaha, and Chad and Kinney roped great throughout the year, too. We’ll let the chips fall where they may, and we’ll be stoked for the winners and sad for the losers, and we’ll let you know when we get official word.