The press room inside the Thomas & Mack Arena in Las Vegas looked like a flashback following the third round of the 2014 Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Built Ford Tough World Finals on Friday night, October 24. J.B. Mauney and Silvano Alves, the two riders who battled throughout the 2013 Finals for a World title, and were in the press room every night, once again took questions from journalists following a round at the PBR’s season ending event.
Mauney came through a year ago for his first World Championship, beating Alves in the second closest title race in the PBR’s 21 year history. In 2014 the North Carolina bull rider has struggled and came to Las Vegas without a shot to defend his World title. However, Mauney showed on Friday night that he will be a factor for the second most lucrative title in bull riding, that of PBR World Finals winner.
Mauney won the third round aboard Hou’s Back, earning 90.25 points. Mauney had originally drafted Long Haired Outlaw but was awarded a re-ride when he was unable to get out of the chutes aboard the cantankerous bull. Mauney has won an event best $37,000 in three rounds and moved to fourth in the event standings thus far.
“That’s how I’m supposed to ride,” Mauney joked. “I don’t know who the other guy is that’s been riding for me. I had been fighting my head before Finals. I just quit thinking. That’s what I needed to do – go back to having fun.”
“Anytime you can be 90, I don’t care how many you’ve been, it still pumps you up,” said Mauney, who has 55 career 90 point rides, third best all time. “That bull had me there thrown off dead easy and that is what I wanted to show to myself and nobody else that I still have a second, third and fourth effort left in me. I am not going to coward out and take the easy route out. That is the only reason I rode that bull.”
The two-time PBR World Champ Alves meanwhile covered Here We Go Again (Stoney Hariman) for 69 points; he was offered a re-ride but characteristically turned it down.
“I wanted to ride a bull for 86, 87 points. I’m not the judge,” Alves said. “I don’t understand how all of that works. But I feel like I did my job by riding three bulls. I thought that was better than trying for a higher score. I feel like I’m doing my part in riding the bulls.”
With former event leader Matt Triplett coming down early off Shepherd Hills Stockman, Alves is now the only rider to be a perfect 3-for-3 here. He has 243 points on three bulls and has earned $1,250.
World leader Joao Ricardo Vieira extended his lead over Alves to 770.94 points with an 87.5 point ride on Dakota Style’s HY Test (Jared Allen’s Pro Bull Team) but actually slid to fifth in the event standings. The World Finals event win is worth 2,500 points while fifth earns just 1,500.
The World Finals winner pockets $250,000 while the World Champion earns $1 million in addition to prize money.
Alves is looking to become just the second rider in PBR history to win three World titles, following fellow Brazilian Adriano Moraes.
The other world champion contenders, Fabiano Vieira, Guilherme Marchi, Mike Lee and Triplett, all failed to make a qualified ride in round three. While the others are not ranked inside the top 15 in the event standings, Triplett only dropped to a split of second and third with 2009 PBR World Champion Kody Lohstroh. Both riders have 179.25 points on two bulls.
Lohstroh is competing with a broken left ankle, suffered at the last regular season event in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Despite being in intense pain, Lohstroh covered Compact (Talbert Bucking Bulls) for 90 points and second in the round. He has won $30,000 at the 2014 Finals.
PBR rookie J.W. Harris has looked at ease inside the Thomas & Mack. Though in his first appearance at the PBR World Finals, Harris has won four Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) World titles here during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR). After winning the opening round, Harris won fourth on Friday night, bringing his event earnings to $35,000. He is sixth in the event standings.
During intermission on Friday night, the top five bulls in the American Bucking Bull Inc.’s (ABBI) Back Seat Buckers program competed. Begun in 2012, BSB gives everyone the chance to own a bucking bull; the ABBI handles all care and training for a bulls after program participants purchase them though a draft held each March. Events are held throughout the season including the PBR World Finals.
Black Jack, Find Jesus, High Noon, Firestorm and Booger County Boogie were the final finalists to come through the long round held at the South Point Hotel and Casino’s Equestrian Center earlier in the week. Each bull bucked again, using a dummy, and High Noon was named the two-out aggregate winner. Jerrod Niemann, the bull’s owner, walked away with $100,000. Niemann, a country music star, plans to donate the money to charity.
2012 BSB graduate Shaft will compete in the World Finals in round four, matched up against Claudio Chrisostomo. Shaft is the first bull from the BSB program to earn a qualification to the Finals.
Round four on Saturday night features the finals of the ABBI Classic, the competition for three- and four-year old bulls. Stuntin Like My Daddy leads after the first round with a score of 89.75 points, just half a point ahead of Smooth Operator and Bruiser. The winner gets $200,000.
Stuntin will face eleventh ranked Marco Eguchi while Smooth Operator gets Kasey Hayes. Bruiser faced World leader Ricardo Vieira in the first round and gets Mauney in round two.
Ricardo Vieira selected Karaoke, a bull he posted 88.5 points on earlier this season in Oklahoma City. Alves faces Freakster, the son of fellow PBR World Finals bull Super Freak. Both bulls are owned by Jerome Davis, a former PRCA World Champion bull rider. Though this bull has only been ridden once in ten outs, it is unlikely that he will buck off Alves tonight.
Round four begins at 6 p.m. local time and will be carried live on CBS Sports Network. Fans can also catch the action on SiriusXM Rural Radio and Pro Rodeo Live.com.