The Saratoga Sun -

Big things from a little cowboy

12-year-old keeps winning on way to second NFR


Tuker Carricato is a polite, but ever so laconic young preteen who lives in the Valley. Because he's a man of very few words, it's a fair bet that a lot of Valley residents have not heard of him.

Carricato doesn't like to brag after all. But his accomplishments in his relatively nascent career as a rodeo rider warrant just a bit of notoriety, since it seems he just may be one of the sport's rising stars.

Carricato started riding a spur board last January and parlayed that into a great start, earning a spot at the prestigious 2016 National Final Rodeo (NFR) Championship in Las Vegas. This year, he capitalized on that success, taking top honors in a spate of rodeos across the West. And, he's headed back to Vegas next month for his second shot at the NFR championship.

Not long after his first go around in Vegas last year, he was back on the dusty trail almost immediately, beginning a series of six rodeos in Rock Springs called the Winter Series, the first being held New Year's Eve. Carricato won the average for that series in his age group.

From the Winter Series, Carricato moved on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association ProTour, a series of eight rodeos across the West open to young rodeo athletes from across North America. Of the eight events spread across the states of Texas, California, Montana, Idaho, Oklahoma and Wyoming, he placed first in four of them.

The final rodeo in the series was held in at the famous Cow Palace in San Francisco, where Carricato also took first place. He also traveled to Utah to take place in the Days of 47 Rodeo in Salt Lake City. Held in a brand new $17 million outdoor arena in the city called the Crossroads of the West, the event is dubbed the "Million Dollar Rodeo," because of the purse up for grabs at the professional adult level.

Carricato won the event in the junior class, taking the stage at the rodeo and being presented his buckle on a Jumbotron with thousands of rodeo fans watching.

He also made his mark in Boone, Colorado, where there was one buckle and one pot of money up for grabs. Carricato was in the 10-17 year old class and found himself competing against 17-year-old seasoned rodeo veterans. He was 11-years-old at the time.

He won.

Over the course of 2017, Carricato rode 32 horses, taking first place 22 times. His next stop will be the NFR Finals in Las Vegas, Dec. 8-11.

For all of his accomplishments, Carricato is still a quiet young man who seemed a little bit embarrassed by the attention he was receiving during his interview with the Saratoga Sun. With a lot of simple, short sentences, he answered questions politely, but straight to the point with very little flourish.

He just loves the sport for his own reasons, and doesn't seem to be in it to impress anyone else. The secret to his success, he said quite simply, is to, "just keep practicing. As long as I stay in practice, I know what to do."

And he's been practicing a lot leading up the NFR in Vegas. Every weekend, he heads up to Casper to train with Kelly Timberman, a world champion bareback rider, and his wife Shannon. "If I keep practicing, I have a good shot," Carricato reiterates in his straightforward and succinct manner.

He's quiet, reserved, modest and unpretentious. And though he would probably be the last say it, it seems as though he may be one of the future stars to come out of the Valley if his rodeo career-which spans less than two years so far-is any indication of things to come.

But he's way too modest to ever suggest such a thing: Instead, he just wanted to thank his family and sponsors for helping him along his way.


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