The Saratoga Sun -

Tuker takes top

Twelve-year-old Saratoga bareback rider takes first at National Finals Rodeo


Courtesy Trisha Carricato

Tuker Carricato rides at the NFR, National Finals Rodeo, in Las Vegas.

For a lot of Valley residents, the first couple weeks of December meant more than Christmas shopping, decorating and getting ready to spend the holidays with friends and family. For those paying attention, the first part of December also means the NFR, National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas is going on.

And this year, a young Valley resident, Tuker Carricato, took home the top prize.

Tuker rode bareback three times at NFR in Vegas. For his first round, he placed second. He repeated his second place performance for his second ride, entering the final round with the highest average number of points.

On his third and final ride, Tuker took first.

His performance over the course of week in Vegas was enough for Tuker to take first place in the junior age division, which includes 10-12 year old riders.

Tuker began his career about two years ago in January 2016 when his father, Tony, built a spur board, a wooden frame that is used to teach riders how to lean back on a bucking horse and spur the animal on. Prior to that, he had never ridden in rodeo.

By February 2016, Tuker had ridden his first bronc. He didn't stop, and went on to compete in Vegas at NFR last year. Then, without so much as a break, he and his family hit the circuit again in January of this year, beginning a series of rodeos throughout the year.

He rode in the Winter Series, held in Wyoming. He then competed in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association ProTour, a series of eight rodeos held in Texas, California, Montana, Idaho, Oklahoma and Wyoming. Carricato took the top spot in four of those, including a ride at the famous Cow Palace in San Francisco.

Of the eight rodeos in the ProTour, he took first in four.

Carricato also competed in the Days of 47 Rodeo in Salt Lake City, dubbed the "Million Dollar Rodeo" because of the size of the purse up for grabs by competitors. He won his division there.

Overall, prior to his three rides in Las Vegas, Tuker rode 32 horses over the course of the season, and he took first for 22 of those rides.


For Tuker's part, when it comes to his impressive series of wins, he is pretty nonchalant. He doesn't seem to particularly enjoy the publicity he receives. When asked, he says in the briefest possible terms that he doesn't hate the attention, he just prefers not to make a big deal of it.

Maintaining his low key existence might be a problem for the young man, however. People from across the globe have begun to take note of his career. According to his mother, Trisha, after his big win in Vegas this month, he drew attention from professional rodeo riders as far away as Brazil.

And if that wasn't enough, Tuker will also be the subject of a documentary to be aired soon. The filmmakers, Trish said, spent hours interviewing Tuker in Las Vegas, and a team of videographers and sound recordists shadowed her son during his time in Vegas.

Tuker though has not let the fame go to his head. He's still the quiet, focused young man he was when he began his rodeo career almost two years ago, and he's already preparing for his next year on the circuit.

Courtesy Trisha Carricato

Carricato rode three times at NFR, finishing second twice and leading in average points before his first place finish.

His first ride of the new season is coming up in several weeks, his mother said, though the family is still not sure which event will be the first. This year, Tuker will move up into a new division, the senior division for riders aged 12 through 14 years.

He's quietly confident. When asked what the class change means for him, he coolly responded it just meant he got to ride a bigger horse and some of the competition will be a bit older.

Tuker's next season will begin in a few weeks, and for him it will likely just be another season to compete and strive to be the best rider possible. For him, it'll just be another day at the office. For legions of fans across the Valley, and increasingly the country and even the globe, Tuker's next season will probably mean a bit more; it'll be the next chapter in the birth of a future rodeo star.


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