CHEYENNE, Wyo. – There was a look of disbelief on Ryder Sanford’s face.
The Sulphur, La., cowboy was trying to digest the fact he won the storied Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo moments earlier.
Not only did Sanford win, he also set a new rodeo record with his 92.5-point ride on Sankey Pro Rodeo & Phenom Genetics’ Black Tie at Frontier Park on Sunday.
The CFD saddle bronc riding record was a 91-point ride by fellow Louisiana cowboy Cody DeMoss on Harry Vold Rodeo’s Painted Valley in 2010.
“This is awesome,” said Sanford, 24. “I Iook up to Cody as a bronc rider and to carry this on is just amazing.”
Sanford couldn’t have asked for a better draw. Black Tie was the 2022 Pendleton Whisky’s Let ‘er Buck Saddle Bronc Horse of the Year.
“That horse absolutely was as good as advertised,” Sanford said. “It’s the one that everyone was wishing to have by their name, and I was blessed to have him by mine and he was just awesome.”
Although there was a packed crowd and a CFD buckle on the line, Sanford, a rookie, didn’t let his nerves get the best of him.
“I was pretty calm actually,” he said. “I knew I was going to do everything I could to ride the best and it worked out. I knew it was going to be (a big score). An electric horse like that comes together like that it is going to be big points.”
When his score was posted, Sanford soaked in the moment as the crowd roared its approval at the rodeo known as the “Daddy of ’em All.”
“It is like nothing else,” Sanford said. “It was amazing.”
Last season, Sanford was competing on his PRCA permit, but he had his season cut short by injury.
“I hurt my shoulder in the summer, and I had to take time off,” Sanford said.
Sanford has rebounded nicely in 2023, winning several rodeos, including the Casey Tibbs Match of Champions Xtreme Broncs in Fort Pierre, S.D. He has been hovering around the top 20 in the PRCA | RAM World Standings and he’s optimistic Cheyenne will be a springboard for him to get in the Top 15 in the standings.
“This is absolutely my biggest rodeo win ever and it is going to give me good momentum for the rest of the summer and hopefully into (the NFR),” Sanford said. “(Qualifying for the NFR) would mean everything to me.”
Sanford also shared the spotlight with Kade Sonnier, his college rodeo teammate from McNeese State in Lake Charles, La. Sonnier split the bareback riding victory in Cheyenne Sunday with an 87.5-point ride on Sankey Pro Rodeo Phenom Genetics’ MLW’s Irish Eyes. Sonnier shared the win with Clayton Biglow (87.5 points on Sankey Pro Rodeo Phenom Genetics’ Atomic Blonde) and Cole Reiner (87.5 points on New Star Pro Rodeo’s Chosen One).
“Kade and I are really good friends, so for both of us to get the win in the same year (at Cheyenne) is amazing,” Sanford said.
Other winners at the Playoff Series Rodeo were all-around cowboy Stetson Wright (saddle bronc riding and bull riding); steer wrestler Eli Lord (5.9 seconds); team ropers Billy Bob Brown/Kirby Blakenship (8.0 seconds); tie-down roper Luke Potter (10.6 seconds); steer roper Troy Tillard (14.6 seconds); barrel racer Sue Smith (16.89 seconds, new arena record); and bull rider Stetson Wright (91.5 points on Dakota Rodeo’s Trump Train).
Courtesy of PRCA