The huge statue sitting in the walkway of the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas of Benny Binion on his horse, Trece, has traveled far to find a home here in this very busy thoroughfare within the confines of the headquarters of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association when the National Finals Rodeo comes to town. It is a larger than life bronze 15 feet tall and 16 feet long, weighing 2,800 pounds created by well-known sculptor, Deborah Copenhaver.
Benny Binion was a successful businessman, who found his fortune in gambling in Dallas, Texas before moving to Las Vegas. The horse was owned by his daughter, Brenda, but Benny, who always wanted to live the western way of life, wanted her to sell him to her to use on his ranch in Montana. “No dice,” she said. Trece was one of 18 foals from the mare, Brenda Joe. “I think my dad thought if he made a bronze of him, I’d let him have the horse,” explained Brenda Binion Michael. The Texas Historical Society paid for Copenhaver to sculpt the bronze. It was placed in front of the famous Billy Bob’s, The Largest Honky Tonk in the World, in the Stockyards at Fort Worth, Texas and was unveiled on Benny’s 80th birthday. When Billy Bob’s was sold, Ronnie Campbell hauled the statue to Las Vegas and it was placed in front of the parking garage of The Horseshoe, Benny’s casino, on 2nd Street in downtown Las Vegas.
Michael Gaughan, owner of South Point, wanted it once Binion’s were no longer owners of The Horseshoe. “It was out in a back street collecting bird shit,” said Gaughan. “Mr. Binion was very close to me – he never said no to me. I tried to get the statue a couple of times, and finally got it for $1. Getting it into South Point was a challenge. First it had to be cleaned – which took two people three days working on it. “We were told not to tilt it or use steel wool,” explained Gaughan, “So we used warm water, soap, and Irish-cut oatmeal to get it cleaned up. They cut a hole in the building, and a second hole to get it into the casino. It took an entire day – it was like moving a Trojan horse.”
Benny Binion had a love of the west, and a high regard for cowboys. He was very instrumental in getting the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association National Finals Rodeo to move to Las Vegas. Since South Point has become the destination of the PRCA Convention, the Benny Binion World Famous Bucking Horse Sale, and so much more during the National Finals Rodeo plus so many other western events and competitions held there during the year the bronze of Benny Binion and Trece is destined to be a focal point at South Point forever.
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July 31, 2018
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