July 30, 2011 -- While Fred Whitfield's birthday is still a week away, he gave himself a reason to celebrate early on July 29, at the Frontier Days Rodeo, when the PRCA eight-time world champion became just the third cowboy in PRCA history to cross the $3 million mark in career earnings. Besides Fred Whitfield, only Trevor Brazile and Billy Etbauer had previously achieved this milestone.
"I had no clue I had done that," said Fred Whitfield when reached by phone the following morning. "I knew at the beginning of the year I was about $18,000 away, but to be honest that was the last time I even thought about it. I don't focus on those type numbers. I never dreamed this would happen to me, but it is a good deal."
Whitfield, of Hockley, Texas, surpassed the mark after finishing second in the first round at the 115th edition of the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days Rodeo with a time of 11.2 seconds and collecting $6,088. Prior to this weekend's rodeos the Hall of Fame cowboy was $3,825 short of the $3 million. In addition to his first round check in Cheyenne he has also picked up a first place check in the first round at the Deadwood (S.D.) Days of ?76 Rodeo with a 7.7-second run that paid $2,025, and he is looking to add more to his earnings before the weekend is over.
"I didn't have a very good winter and then was home working on some other projects until just before the Fourth," said Whitfield of his 2011 campaign. "These last few weeks, things have really been clicking for me and I am entered in nine to 10 rodeos in the next couple of weeks, so we will just see how it goes. I am not giving up just yet on another trip to Las Vegas in December."
While Whitfield was just outside of the top 50 as of Monday, July 25, he is sure to be on the list when new standings are released on August 1. Whitfield, who will turn 44 on August 5, is looking for his 20th trip to the National Finals Rodeo.
"I don't know where all the years have gone, but it has gone way to fast," said Whitfield about his approaching birthday. "Luckily I don't look my age and I feel good. I love what I do and I am not quite ready to give it up."
That is great news for not only Whitfield fans but for ProRodeo fans.
"I am happy with where I am in my career and I still enjoy the competition aspect," said Whitfield, who joined the PRCA in 1990. "Rodeo has been a good way for me to make a living and I am thankful for that."
For more information on Whitfield, visit www.fredwhitfield.com.