The World Championship races for both the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) two-legged and four-legged athletes were on center stage during round two of the PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals in Las Vegas on October 23, 2014.
For the bulls, Thursday night’s out is the first of two in their sudden-death battle for the title 2014 World Champion Bull. 2014 has been the farewell tour for the tour’s legend, Bushwacker, a two-time World Champ who is among the eight bulls battling for the title this year. Bushwacker is without doubt the PBR’s most prominent athlete, appearing in national magazines and being dubbed “the Baddest Body in Sport” by ESPN. It was announced prior to this season that the bull would retire following the 2014 World Finals.
On Thursday, Bushwacker was the last bull to buck and he delivered his 19th straight buck-off when he downed PBR Finals rookie Brady Sims in 3.9 seconds. However, the nine year old bull from Julio Moreno Bucking Bulls finds himself in fourth in the title race behind long-time nemesis Asteroid as well as Mik E Mouse and trailermate Roy, who is a half brother and also owned by Julio Moreno.
The official standings after round one are: Asteroid 46.5 points, Mik E Mouse 46 points, Roy 45.25 points, Bushwacker 45 points, Jared Allen’s Air Time 44.5 points, Fire & Smoke 44.25 points and I’m a Gangster Too and Shepherd Hills Tested 42.25 points.
The bulls will make their final out during the Championship Round on Sunday, October 26 and scores from that out will combine with Thursday’s scores to determine the champion.
As for the cowboys, this race remains hotly contested with several riders still in the hunt. Sixth ranked Matt Triplett made an emphatic statement with his ride aboard Walk Off (Jeff Robinson Bucking Bulls) when he rode for 92 points, the highest marked ride of this Finals; it was just the second qualified ride, and by far the best, in the bull’s previous 21 outs on the Built Fort Tough Series (BFTS). Triplett also covered his first round bull and takes 179.25 points and the World Finals lead into round three.
“This is something I’ve dreamed of my entire life,” Triplett said in a post-event press conference, “and what better way is there to live my dream? This is pretty awesome. I’m just going to try to stay positive and go jump for jump and have fun.”
World leader Joao Ricardo Vieira was bucked off in round one and desperately needed a score in round two, particularly after second ranked, and two-time PBR World Champ Silvano Alves covered Mr. Clark (Wolf Creek Cattle & Rodeo Co., LLC) for 87.25 points to move to second in the overall standings for the event.
Ricardo Vieira got what he needed in a 90.25 score on Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey (Cantankerous LLC). It marked the second consecutive year that the Brazilian rider had earned better than 90 points on this bull in round two in Las Vegas and his fifth 90+ score of the season, the best on tour. He won second in the round, worth an important 350 bonus points, and moved to fourth in the event standings as the highest score on one ride.
Rookie contender Tanner Byrne covered his second straight bull of the Finals, earning 83.75 points on Superfreak (Davis Rodeo Ranch/Brian Canter). He joins Triplett and Alves as the only men who are perfect thus far.
Meanwhile, second ranked Fabiano Vieira, fourth ranked Guilherme Marchi and fifth ranked Mike Lee were all bucked off early. Vieira continues to be hampered by an unstable right shoulder (free arm) while Marchi ran into an impressive outing by Percolator (Jeff Robinson Bucking Bulls). Lee hit the ground hard and seemed to be nearly unconscious after his trip aboard Circle T’s Crossfire; an injury update is not available yet.
Ricardo Vieira stretched his lead for the World title out to 627.44 points over Alves, who improved to 21 qualified rides in 26 attempts at the World Finals in his career. Vieira is 951.88 points behind while Marchi fell to 1,373.44 back. Lee and Triplett held their positions, 1,561.44 and 1,662.67 points behind the leader.
Round three features a little easier pen of bulls than round two’s eliminators and big-time buckers. While still the among the best bulls in the world, round three has some of the lower end Championship Round bulls from the regular season, bulls that should, in theory, produce more qualified rides.
Round three is the first draft round and Triplett made the most of his first pick, choosing Shepherd Hills Stockman (Wolf Creek Cattle Co./Shepherd Hills Cutlery/Tom Luthy). He won a round on this bull back in Phoenix with 88.25 points; he’s no day off but the top riders generally cover him and earn close to 90. In fact, this bull produced one of Ricardo Vieira’s 90+ rides when he earned 90.75 on him in Anaheim.
While Triplett needs to win round bonus points to make up ground on the leaders, Alves is looking at the 2,500 bonus points to the rider who wins the event here on Sunday. He chose Here We Go Again (Stoney Hariman), a bull with only a couple of BFTS outs including a buck-off of Renato Nunes in Biloxi at the end of the season. His marked rides have ranged from 85 to 87.50 points so it looks like Alves will definitely be three-for-three.
Ricardo Vieira chose Dakota Style’s HY Test (Jared Allen’s Pro Bull Team), a bull that’s been ridden six times on the BFTS. Ryan Dirteater holds the high mark aboard him, 88.50 points earned in St. Louis earlier this season.
Round three begins October 24 at 6 p.m. local time. Coverage will air live on CBS Sports Network and will be broadcast on SiriusXM Rural Radio Channel 80 and Pro Rodeo Live.com.