Jake Long and Luke Brown celebrate winning $120,000 at the 2017 BFI. (Photo by Olie's Images)
PHOENIX, AZ – When Perry Di Loretto founded the world’s first million-dollar #11 roping in Reno, Nevada, in 1996, it kicked off a legacy of giving back to the host community. Corky Ullman and Daren Peterson, who bought the roping in 2015, are keeping to tradition.
Over the past few years, organizers have auctioned valuable items to raise more than $30,000 for Warriors and Rodeo and $15,000 for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. A local charity will benefit in 2019 – Pinocchio’s Moms on the Run. The Reno non-profit provides financial assistance to breast cancer patients undergoing treatment in this part of Nevada.
“It’s important to give back, and ever since Perry created it, the #11 roping has given back to Reno,” said Peterson. “Just like the BFI, which raises money for the Reno Rodeo Foundation, Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund, and Warriors and Rodeo, we’re excited to see this roping support Moms on the Run, a great local charity for Reno women.”
This year, the 23rd edition of the roping on June 25 sports a new moniker – the Wrangler National Patriot. It’s named for the 10-year-old program backed by Wrangler that raises funds for American military veterans and their families while encouraging all Americans to rally with patriotism.
Complying with the nationwide tweak in roper handicaps, the roping is technically an 11.5 roping this year, but keeps the invitational format, #6 cap and requirement that entrants be at least 30 years old (the average age of 2018 contestants was 54). Fees have been lowered to $2,000, and organizers who spread the money more evenly last year have gone back to guaranteeing $200,000 for first place. Entries are open now for it and all other events of Wrangler BFI Week, June 22-29.
The event actually kicks off this year on Saturday, June 22, with the Hooey BFI Junior Championships, moved in 2019 so as not to conflict with the National Junior High School Finals Rodeo or the Best of the Best Timed-Event Rodeo. Last year, the Hooey BFI Junior Championships winners earned $15,000.
And of course, everything is anchored by the 42nd Annual BFI on Monday, June 24, which features 108 of the world’s best Open teams competing over six rounds for more than $700,000 in cash and prizes. The Wrangler National Patriot #11.5 follows on Tuesday. A brand-new roping is scheduled for Wednesday, June 26, this year – the Cactus #9.5 Over 40 that will pay $100,000 for first place (based on 125 teams).
“The #9.5 is a great addition to our roster,” said Peterson. “It allows the older ropers a chance to compete against their peers in a format where they don’t have to rope against the kids.”
Also Wednesday, #12 ropers over 21 will play in the High Desert Showdown. And in 2019, the Charlie 1 Horse All-Girl Challenge on Thursday will again be the highest-paying women’s roping in America. It boasts a new pick-one/draw-one-for-$750 format, and also offers $7,500 guaranteed to the winners of a #9 Incentive within the roping. The breakaway jackpot returns, along with the $2,500 bonus for the All-Girl all-around champion.
This year’s local BFI Week activities will be especially exciting as they happen in conjunction with the storied Reno Rodeo’s 100th anniversary celebration. Together the two events, plus World Series competitions off-site, bring the collective athlete purse in Reno to roughly $3.75 million.
Visit www.BFIWeek.com for more information. Reservations with special roper rates starting at $54 are available at the Silver Legacy Resort, Eldorado Resort, and Circus Circus Reno by using rate code BFI19.
About Ullman-Peterson Events: The Phoenix-based production company helmed by Daren Peterson and Corky Ullman has owned and produced the Bob Feist Invitational since 2012 and purchased the Reno Rodeo Invitational team ropings in 2015. Founded by notable rodeo announcer and publisher Bob Feist in 1977, the BFI is the richest team roping event for professionals and one of the most prestigious, due to its limited roster and long head-start for steers. Founded by Perry Di Loreto in 1996 and now with additional categories, the high-stakes amateur roping events surrounding the BFI are the most lucrative one-day events of their kind.