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LAS VEGAS - So much for drama.
Milford's Cody Wright took all the suspense out of the saddle bronc world championship race at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo on Friday night, when he won Round 9 and clinched the title with one performance remaining.
Combined with the no-scores posted by Billy Etbauer and J.J. Elshere - his closest rivals - Wright's score of 85 and the $16,766 he earned wrapped up his championship.
Informed in the Thomas & Mack Center interview room that he clinched the title, Wright smiled and said: "That's what I've been shooting for. It's awesome - a dream come true. It's been an awesome season."
Riding a horse named Wild Bill, Wright overcame a nervous moment in the middle of his eight-second ride to score his third victory in nine rounds at the National Finals.
"I had a pretty good horse tonight," Wright said. "I didn't know a lot about him. I couldn't even find anybody who'd rode him. . . . I saw him the other night. Chad [Ferley] had him and didn't stay on him very long, so I was pretty nervous."
It didn't show.
"He left good - the first two jumps were real nice," Wright said. "Then he got me a little bit. I wasn't able to spur for a couple of jumps. But I finished him better than I rode him in the middle and it worked out better than I thought it would."
With Round 10 remaining, Wright has already earned $74,639 at the National Finals. This season, he has banked $219,831.
"He's a machine," said Oakley saddle bronc rider Anthony Bello. "That guy rides real good. He deserves the world title."
Bello had a good night, too.
He tied for second behind Wright with a score of 79. Competing with a painful rib injury, Bello earned $11,628. It was his first check at the National Finals.
"I guess I can come off suicide watch," Bello said.
Meanwhile, in the bull riding, neither Steve Woolsey of Payson, Wesley Silcox of Payson nor Shawn Proctor of Tooele posted a score.
In bareback riding, Kaycee Feild of Elk Ridge posted a score of 77 in Round 9, but it was not good enough to earn another paycheck. Still, Feild had three straight top-four finishes earlier in the week - including a win Tuesday night. He has earned $37,048 at his first National Finals.
Milford's Cody Wright wrapped up the saddle bronc world championship by winning the event Friday night.
* Today's 10th and final performance of the National Finals Rodeo starts at 8 p.m. MST and will be televised on ESPN2.