Arena All-Star Timeto Catch WA
Photography by Ross Hecox
One of the top calf roping horses in both the AQHA and PRCA arenas began his career on a racetrack in Brazil. Now, at 18 years of age, this gelding is still carrying top competitors to the pay window.
In December 2007, Blair Burk rode Timeto Catch WA to a fifth round win and 10th round tie for first at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada. While “TC” was then new to the American rodeo scene, the small brown gelding was already famous in Brazil. In fact, TC is a Brazilian all-star.
Foaled in 1992 in the state of San Paulo, brown gelding is by Catchmeifyoucan and out of Miss Timely JA 01IBR, by Think A Mite. Bred to run but considered too small 14.3 hands, TC does not look like the typical racehorse. Yet, he ran third as a 3-year-old in the Brazilian Quarter horse futurity.
As a 4-year-old, TC was sent to Franco Bertolani, a prominent reining horse trainer in Italy who got his start in Brazil. The gelding was shown in the Associacao Nacional de Cavalos de Redeas, the National Reining Horse Association’s Brazilian affiliate, and finished reserve in the non-pro super stakes class.
When he turned 5, fate stepped into TC’s life in the form of Frederico Werneck. Or, as Werneck says, fate brought him to TC.
Werneck, a horse trainer and saddle maker originally from San Paulo, had taken in several other reining horses and made them in calf roping. TC, he says, was very different than any other horse he had trained.
“The first day I tracked calves around the pen,” he says. “The second day, when I swung the rope behind the calf, he was already stopping. TC already knew what he was doing. I thought, ‘Oh, this is different.’”
Most of the reining horses Werneck had trained as calf horses had a hard time working off the bit, having been used to a lot of seat and leg cues.
“I didn’t have that problem with TC,” Werneck recalls. “He was real calm. For sure the [reining] training helped some, but he was different.”
Once the pair clicked, they began dominating the Brazilian Quarter horse shows in calf roping and won their share of money in the rodeo arena. In 1999 and 2000, Werneck and TC teamed up to win the Open High Point International Tie-Down Roping for the AQHA. In 2001, the pair was the Associacao Brasileira dos Criadores de Quarto de Milha (Brazilian AQHA) open reserve national champions in tie-down roping.
Fate intervened once more, and TC’s owner, Lea Schwery Abdalla, took him to their ranch in southern San Paulo state. Werneck moved on to other horses, but continued to keep tabs on TC. In 2007, Werneck called to inquire about TC to buy for a client, and it was then that Werneck knew he had the opportunity of a lifetime to buy the horse for himself.
“I knew I had to buy the horse because you cannot find one like him,” says Werneck. “I had some money put together to buy a car for my son because he had gotten into a good school, like the Harvard of Brazil. In Brazil there is no credit, only cash. I called [my son] and told him that I had the money to buy the car or the horse, and my son said to go buy the horse.”
Five years had passed between Werneck’s last ride on the gelding and the day he bought him. The first day Werneck owned TC, he shod and saddled him for an easy lope. At that point, TC had not roped a calf in three years; in fact TC had been turned out and was not in shape.
“I started to ride him and decided to breakaway [rope] a calf on him,” he said. “It had been three years since he had been roped off of, so I was just going to see how he was. I roped the calf, and he dropped his butt. I said to myself ‘well, I’ll just tie this one.’ And he was perfect.”
Over the next months, Werneck and TC won three Brazilian championship titles in calf roping and several large rodeos.
Little did Werneck know that one of his life-long dreams—of moving to the United States to train and compete—was soon to become a reality. PRCA champion calf roper Blair Burk, a friend of Werneck’s since the early 1990s, was instrumental in bringing the team to the US.
TC was an instant favorite, and Burk began competing on him at professional rodeos and then at the 2007 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. It was there that professional roper Tyson Durfey first saw TC. Durfey got to know Werneck at the 2008 WNFR, and in 2009, he traveled to Texas to ride the gelding.
“It was very cool that I got to ride the horse,” he says. “I saw videos of Fred riding him at rodeos in Brazil. I thought it was so cool to see a horse that had come so far and do so well.”
Durfey rode TC at the Clovis, New Mexico, and Guymon, Oklahoma, PRCA rodeo this year and placed well at both. At the end of September, Durfey was ranked fifth in the PRCA standings and was in contention to make the WNFR in December. Durfey plans to bring TC and his own calf horse to the WNFR this year to compete.
“He works awesome,” Durfey says. “He’s dangerous strong. When I sit on him, he is a lot bigger around than you think. I really like him.”
At 18 years old, TC remains a tough competitor in the calf roping. Werneck says the horse is a hard worker and easy keeper.
“When I need to put my confidence together, not his, then I will tie calves on him,” Werneck says. “But if we are doing well, I just breakaway some calves to check him in the box.”
This year, Werneck competed in the Battle in the Saddle’s American Rope Horse Futurity Association Tie-Down Sweepstakes, finishing third in the open and first in the limited open classes. Werneck hopes to qualify the gelding for the AQHA World Show in the senior calf roping.
Over the years Werneck and TC have developed a close relationship. When the two have a good run, TC will acknowledge it with a rumbling nicker when Werneck pats his neck prior to dismounting. If the horse or the rider performs less than stellar, TC remains silent and, true to his all-star status, will sulk in his stall.
“You know, I still have a lot of fun on him,” Werneck says. “Roping on him is not work, just fun and a good time. You can never say never, but I don’t want to sell him. I would be glad to see my little girl rope on him when she was 5 or 10.”
For more information on Timeto Catch WA and Frederico Werneck, visit werneckranch.com.