Milford's Wright closing in on saddle bronc title

Third-place finish puts him in a virtual tie for first with two rides left
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LAS VEGAS - Milford's Cody Wright could hit the jackpot this weekend.

With a third-place finish in Round 8 of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo on Thursday night, Wright moved into a virtual tie with Billy Etbauer atop the world saddle bronc standings.

Etbauer, who has not completed either of his last two rides, leads with $204,194 in season earnings. After pocketing $10,006, Wright has now banked $203,064 heading into the final two performances of the National Finals.

Advantage Etbauer? Not really. Since Wright remained second in the average NFR standings while Etbauer dropped to seventh, Wright is likely to win the world title if he can simply stay aboard his horses tonight and Saturday night.

Meanwhile, in bull riding, Payson's Steve Woolsey won Round 8 with a score of 87. He earned $16,766. Only two of the 15 cowboys completed their rides.

In tie-down roping, Spanish Fork's Clint Robinson finished third and earned $10,006 after posting a time of 7.5 seconds. In the last five rounds, Robinson has pocketed just over $40,000.

In bareback riding, Elk Ridge's Kaycee Feild failed to cash a check for the first time in four nights. After earning $37,048 since Monday, his score of 79.5 was only good for seventh place.

In all, nine Utahns qualified for the National Finals, but injuries have been a problem.

Payson's Jessy Davis separated his shoulder after an 81-point ride in the second round of the bareback event. He tried to ride the next two nights, but after failing to score, he was forced to withdraw.

Also hurt but expected to keep competing are bull riders Shawn Proctor and Wesley Silcox and Oakley's Anthony Bello. At the end an 81-point round during the fourth performance on Sunday night, Proctor dislocated his shoulder. He has kept riding, however, and he won Round 6 with a score of 89. The victory bumped Proctor's NFR earnings through seven rounds to $33,081.

"I could never dream of anything better than this," said Proctor, who did not score in Round 8.

Silcox continues to struggle because of a broken leg he suffered Aug. 24 in Bremerton, Wash. The reigning world champion won the fifth performance and finished tied for fourth in Round 4. But he failed to completed his ride in six of the first eight rounds, and he has limped noticeably after every attempt.

Bello entered the National Finals as this season's No. 4 money winner with earnings of $91,768. But it's obvious he been hampered by broken ribs. In the first seven rounds, his best finish was a tie for eighth. He has failed to score five times.

* Today's ninth performance of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo will be televised on ESPN Classic starting at 8 p.m. MST. Saturday's final performance will be carried on ESPN2, also at 8 p.m.

* Trevor Brazile of Decatur, Texas, needed only six rounds to clinch the team roping title, the sixth all-around world championship of his career. Ty Murray, who retired in 2002, holds the record with seven all-around titles.