Behind the Chutes: Iron Cowboy

Asteroid bucks off Mike Lee in 1.61 seconds at Iron Cowboy. Photo by Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com.

Highlights

  • Asteroid finished off his PBR career with a 46-point outing against Mike Lee.
  • Joao Ricardo Vieira won Iron Cowboy for the second consecutive year by going 3-for-3.
  • Douglas Duncan moved back inside the Top 35 of the world standings by splitting for the first-round victory.

In This Article

ARLINGTON, Texas – Here are three things we learned from the Choctaw Casino Resort Iron Cowboy, powered by Kawasaki Strong, on Saturday night.

Asteroid retires on top

Asteroid capped off his legendary career in the PBR by bucking off 2004 World Champion Mike Lee in 1.61 seconds during Round 2.

The 2012 World Champion Bull lunged out of the bucking chute and slammed Lee onto the ground for a bull score of 46 points to finish his career with a 49-4 record on the BFTS.

It was the bovine athlete’s 29th time in which he was marked 46 or more points.

The out left owner Jeff Talley pleased.

“I am dang sure proud of him,” Talley said. “That was rank.”

It was a coincidental twist of fate that Asteroid would face off against Lee. Throughout Asteroid’s previous four years on tour, he was always compared side-by-side with three-time World Champion Bull Bushwacker.

Bushwacker’s final out of his career was at the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals against Lee as well, and he bucked off the Decatur, Texas, bull rider in 2.13 seconds for a bull score of 46.5 points.

“It’s a little bit discouraging for me on my part, but it is a big honor,” Lee said. “The thing of it is, I am 31 years old and I have been around a long time and I still am not scared to get on them. It is still fun even when they stomp the crap out of me. It is fun to get on rank bulls. I didn’t even know what happened to me until I hit the ground.

“When you can do that, that means you are probably pretty rank.”

PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said the out reminded everyone that Asteroid still is capable of being one of the PBR’s best bovine athletes.

“He went out like the champ he is,” Lambert said. “My last words to Gene Melton were that if he changes his mind, I still think he can win it this year.”

New format, no problem for Joao Ricardo Vieira

There may have been a new Iron Cowboy format this year, but once again Joao Ricardo Vieira is the Iron Cowboy for the second consecutive season.

Vieira made it a point to ride every bull they ran underneath him to leave no doubt who deserved to be Iron Cowboy. Vieira won the title last year in the old bracket-style Iron Cowboy despite not making a single qualified ride.

This year he had no choice but to make the 8-second whistle if he wanted to be crowned Iron Cowboy, and he made it look flawless.

“Both events are very tough to win,” Vieira said with the help of Paulo Crimber translating. “I came in and won it, but I didn’t ride my bulls. They were very rank bulls. There came to be a lot of question about how I won and didn’t ride a bull last year. This year, I came over here and won again. This proves I am the Iron Cowboy and deserved this title more than last year because I rode all my bulls. I got on my bulls last year to win and stay on them and I couldn’t get it done. I feel more like the true champion because I got on all the bulls this weekend and rode.”

The 30-year-old sealed the victory, and the $180,000 event purse, with an 88.5-point ride on Crack The Whip during the third and final round of the night after Tanner Byrne (1.82 seconds on Boot Jack) and Stetson Lawrence (2.57 on Lane’s Magic Train) bucked off their respective bulls.

Vieira is the first two-time Iron Cowboy champion.

Crack The Whip originally scurried forward out of the bucking chute before turning and kicking hard into Vieira’s hand.

“I didn’t really know which way the bull was going to go,” he said. “I just flow to the right and waited for him to go anywhere. I just wanted to get it done, go jump for jump and win the whole deal.”

It was Vieira’s second qualified ride on Crack The Whip after making 8 seconds on the bull for 88.5 points in Thackerville, Oklahoma, last season.

On a night where Lambert organized one of the rankest bullpens of the season, Vieira actually benefitted in large part from the random draw in Arlington.

Not only had Vieira faced Crack The Whip before, but he also had previously rode Bruiser for 88.75 points in Thackerville – the same bull in which he rode for an event-best 90.5 points on Saturday night to win Round 2 at AT&T Stadium.

Vieira earned a total of 900 points toward the world standings at Iron Cowboy and skyrockets from 26th in the world to No. 5. He was awarded 600 points for winning the Iron Cowboy and picked up an additional 300 points for his first-place finishes in the second and third rounds.

Vieira rode Grandpa Joe for 85.5 points to make it past Round 1.  

Duncan gets much needed points toward world standings

Douglas Duncan couldn’t get past Beaver Creek Beau in the second round, bucking off in 1.8 seconds, but it doesn’t mean that Iron Cowboy was a complete bust for the 27-year-old.

Duncan tied with Rubens Barbosa (Cowboy’s Dancehall Blonde Bomber), L.J. Jenkins (Jack Daniel’s Winter Jack) and Lawrence (Bluegrass) for the Round 1 victory with his 87.5-point ride on HD.

The Alvin, Texas, native picked up 93.75 points toward the world standings for splitting the win and is now back within the Top 35 of the world standings in position No. 29 after beginning the night 38th.

“I wasn’t really sure how they do it here,” Duncan said. “I don’t look at it and I just try to ride my bull. I just try to take care of my business. I’ve had a couple bad weekends where I rode a couple of bulls to the whistle where I didn’t finish it out. It feels good. It is a long season.”

There were a total of 16 qualified rides in Round 1.

Barbosa also moves into the Top 35 from No. 40 to No. 31 in the world standings.

Lawrence, who is 11th in the world standings, earned a total of 168.75 points and finished the event in second place. He earned 75 of his points for placing third in Round 2 with an 85-point ride on Pound The Alarm.

*Based on the Iron Cowboy format, only the Iron Cowboy champion (Vieira) earned any bonus points toward the world standings. All other points earned for the riders were based upon round-finish in Rounds 1 & 2.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Outlaw to be out for six months due to torn rotator cuff (2-26-15)

PUEBLO, Colo. – Chase Outlaw has learned that he will need to undergo surgery next Wednesday after it was discovered that he tore his right rotator cuff (free arm) last weekend during the Caterpillar Classic in Kansas City, Missouri.

According to Outlaw, he will be out for six months following shoulder surgery.

The No. 9 bull rider in the world found out the news from Dr. Tandy Freeman on Thursday in Dallas once X-rays and an MRI showed the severity of the injury.

“I have a torn rotator cuff,” Outlaw said. “(Freeman) will go in there and fix it up. I’ll be out for six months, just like Reese (Cates) was.

"He could tell my rotator cuff was torn loose from the bone and it tore bone with it when he did the X-ray. He could tell it was messed up just from the X-ray."

Cates had to undergo shoulder reconstruction surgery last season after he dislocated his right shoulder when he landed on his elbow awkwardly during the BFTS event in Phoenix, Arizona.

Outlaw sustained his injury in Kansas City when he dislocated his right shoulder while landing on his elbow during his 4.53-second buckoff against Sinful Nature in Round 1.

PBR sports medicine was able to reduce his shoulder in the training room, but the damage was already done.

Outlaw was amidst a career-year and had ridden 11-of-24 bulls through the first eight Built Ford Tough Series events, while also posting three Top-5 finishes. He also had won the 15/15 Bucking Battle two weeks earlier with an 89.25-point ride on Crack The Whip in St. Louis.

This will be the longest amount of time the 22-year-old has ever had to sit out due to injury.

“It sucks, but, hey, I am going to come back and nothing is going to throw me off,” Outlaw said.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Consistency will be key at Iron Cowboy (2-25-15)

PUEBLO, Colo. – The number eight will be the key number for the Top 40 riders stepping foot into AT&T Stadium on Saturday evening.

Obviously, 8 seconds is always important when it comes to the sport of professional bull riding, but the riders competing at the Choctaw Casino Resort Iron Cowboy, powered by Kawasaki Strong, will need to make 8 seconds in hopes of being declared the 2015 Iron Cowboy.

Yes, there will still be an increased amount of round points (150, 90, 75, 60, 45) available for riders that place within the Top 5 of every round, but only one rider will walk away with $180,000 – $100,000 courtesy of the Bad Boy Mowers bonus – and 600 points toward the world standings.

Therefore, the easiest way to find victory – and that large sum of cash – is to keep making 8 seconds in the newly-adopted Last Cowboy Standing format for Iron Cowboy and not put much too much weight in their respective ride scores.

There are four riders (Alexandre Cardozo, Rubens Barbosa, Neil Holmes and Dakota Louis) that are set to make their 2015 BFTS debuts in Arlington.

Cardozo is making his BFTS debut after winning the BlueDEF Velocity Tour event in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is the 30th bull rider in the world standings and has gone 14-for-27 (51.85 percent) this year at Velocity and Touring Pro events.

Cardozo has drawn Shepherd Hills Stockman (18-13, BFTS) in Round 1. Sean Willingham rode Shepherd Hills Stockman for 86.75 points in Oklahoma City.

Barbosa – the 2011 PBR Rookie of the Year – is competing at his first BFTS event in three years. He brings a 50 percent (11-for-22) riding average into the event from lower PBR levels. Barbosa, who is 40th in the world standings, will face Cowboy’s Dancehall Blonde Bomber (9-10, BFTS). Blonde Bomber has yet to compete on the BFTS this year.

Holmes stated earlier this year his intentions to make it onto the BFTS full time and Saturday will be his first opportunity to try and gain some points to crack the Top 35. He heads to Arlington 41st in the world standings, but he won the BlueDEF Velocity Tour qualifying event in Detroit to get a spot in the draw.

The 29-year-old has gone a combined 6-for-14 (42.88 percent) on the Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division.

Holmes faces Jack Daniel’s After Party (43-22, BFTS) in Round 1. After Party was ridden in six of nine outs last season.

Louis won a spot in the draw by tying with Kaique Pacheco at the BlueDEF Velocity Tour qualifying event in Salt Lake City, Utah. Saturday will be Louis’ fourth career BFTS event and he will see Thunderhead (1-0, BFTS) in the first round. Thunderhead bucked off Douglas Duncan in his debut last month in Oklahoma City.

J.B. Mauney (left groin, pelvis injury) and Ryan Dirteater (left groin) are both returning to action at Iron Cowboy, while Chase Outlaw is out with a separated right shoulder.

Mauney has drawn Earl (10-4, BFTS) in the first round, and Dirteater will take on Bootdaddy.com (0-0, BFTS).

Here is a look at the Top-5 riders based on riding percentage on the BFTS and who they have drawn for the first round of Iron Cowboy.

1. Silvano Alves (62.96 percent) vs. Fire Bender (5-1, BFTS)

Alves has won the Last Cowboy Standing format two times in his career and is one of the most consistent riders on the BFTS. In his career, he has a 60.43 riding percentage (281-for-465) and earlier this year he shattered the all-time record for consecutive rides on the BFTS with 24 in a row.

The defending World Champion leads the BFTS with 17 qualified rides.

Fire Bender has been ridden once in four outs this year. Josh Faircloth earned 86-points aboard Fire Bender in Chicago.

2. Kaique Pacheco (56.25 percent) vs. Pistol Pete (5-2, BFTS)

Pacheco has only competed in four BFTS events, but the 20-year-old rookie has already won his first career event (St. Louis) and is second on the BFTS with four round wins.

While the sample size is small, if you take Pacheco’s riding statistics from the BlueDEF Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division his riding percentage is still at an impressive (24-for-38).

Pacheco has ridden six of his last 10 bulls attempted.

Pistol Pete has bucked off L.J. Jenkins and J.B. Mauney in his only two outs of 2015 and hasn’t been ridden since February 2014 (Fabiano Vieira for 84 points).

3. Valdiron de Oliveira (56 percent) vs. California’s Sport Coat (3-1, BFTS)

Oliveira currently has the highest riding percentage of his career since 2012 (60.92 percent). That was the last season in which Oliveira finished a stretch of five consecutive years with a Top-5 finish in the world standings.

Like Pacheco, Oliveira has ridden six of his last 10 bulls attempted.

California Sport Coat bucked of Jason Malone in 2.1 seconds in Oklahoma City. It was the bull’s first BFTS out since September 2013.

California Sport Coat was last ridden in April 2013 by Stormy Wing for 88.75 points.

4. Matt Triplett (55.17 percent) vs. Hungry Eyes (7-1, BFTS)

The No. 1 bull rider in the world is competing at AT&T Stadium for the first time in his career and heads to Arlington on his longest buckoff streak of 2015.

Triplett has failed to make the whistle in six consecutive outs, but the 23-year-old still has the highest riding percentage of his three-year career.

The Columbia Falls, Montana, bull rider has won a BFTS-high five rounds.

Hungry Eyes has yet to buck in 2015, and Fabiano Vieira became the first rider to make 8 seconds on him in the bull’s last out at the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals for 86.5 points.

5. Shane Proctor (50 percent) vs. Butcher’s Nightmare (2-2, BFTS)

February has been a total nightmare for Proctor. The 29-year-old has yet to record a qualified ride in nine outs since beginning the month with an 87-point ride on Redbone in the first round of the Anaheim, California, event.

Proctor began the year 12-for-16 (75 percent) before the calendar turned to February.

Butcher’s Nightmare has bucked off Dirteater (5 seconds) and Renato Nunes (3.65 seconds) since being ridden by Reese Cates in Oklahoma City for 87.25 points.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

BEHIND THE CHUTES: KANSAS CITY, DAY 2 (2-22-15)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Here are three things we learned from the Caterpillar Classic this weekend at the Sprint Center.

Stone Sober debuts with 46.25-point outing

Stone Sober has been on the cusp of becoming a part of the top tier of bulls for the last few years after first making his Built Ford Tough Series debut in 2012.

However, one of his biggest drawbacks has been problems getting out of the chute cleanly or being called for a foul.

On championship Sunday, Stone Sober stepped up with the second-rankest trip on the BFTS this season by tossing L.J. Jenkins off his back in just 1.51 seconds for an event-best, 46.25-point bull score.

“He was outstanding tonight,” Dillon Page said of his bull’s season debut. “That is him most of the time. Just once in a while he has a spaz attack. He is just really hot blooded and it has just taken a long time to get him to settle down.”

It was a rematch from the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals when Stone Sober did much of the same to Jenkins, bucking him off inside the Thomas & Mack Center in just 3.89 seconds for a 46-point bull score. It was also the bovine athlete’s second 46-point marking of the Finals.

The two had met a month earlier last year when Stone Sober was marked 46.5 points for bucking Jenkins off in 1.51 seconds – the exact same time that Jenkins was bucked off at this weekend.

The Porum, Oklahoma, bull rider is one of the more knowledgeable riders in the locker room when it comes to bulls on the BFTS and Page believes that having a rider that understands Stone Sober’s tendencies can certainly help.

“I think it helps when he has the right guys,” Page said. “If they don’t ease in on him in a hurry, he will give them a really good shot.”

Dillon and H.D. Page have been working with Stone Sober at their Ardmore, Oklahoma, ranch to try and make him more cooperative in the chute and to get him comfortable to buck cleaner. They also allowed Stone Sober to gain 200 pounds compared to his weight from the Finals.

“We have been working with him and we have been trying to help him get better,” Page said. “I don’t know if that helped, but he was better today. He just feels way, way better.”

Page has always felt Stone Sober could become one of the great bulls on the BFTS, but he knows that Stone Sober needs to perform consistently.

“It’s all about how they perform,” he said. “If they don’t step up every day, then people forget about him. It is all about great bulls.”

Jenkins leads the way in avoiding BFTS cut

Jenkins may have been bucked off by Stone Sober, but he was still able to fight his way back inside the Top 35 of the world standings on Sunday afternoon.

At the beginning of the weekend, the 11-year BFTS veteran said he wasn’t too worried about being cut from the BFTS, however, by the time 2 p.m. rolled around in Kansas City things were starting to look bleak.

Jenkins had been bucked off in Round 1 on Saturday night by Say I Won’t Playboy at 7.33 seconds and he had only one more guaranteed bull on the BFTS remaining.

Regardless, Jenkins rose to the challenge and conquered The Price is Right for 87 points to split the second-round win with Bryan Titman.

The 80 points that Jenkins earned for splitting the round win bumped him from 39th in the world standings to the 29th position. He also earned 10 points for finishing within the Top 15 of the event average.

“That is cutting it a little close, but, heck, it is good to get one rode,” Jenkins said. “He was a good bull to the right and he usually goes left, so I wasn’t expecting right at all. Heck, it worked out.”

The points earned toward the standings were also valuable to Titman, who had to ride with Cooper Davis’ bull rope because his was ripped, and now the 26-year-old rookie can relax some knowing he will be making his first appearance at Iron Cowboy.

Titman rode Crazy Horse in Round 2, before bucking off Buck Dynasty in the championship round.

“It feels good,” said the No. 27 rider in the world. “I think that is going to help me going into next weekend. Other than the short round, my confidence is pretty high right now. I think next weekend in Arlington, I am going to blow the roof off there.”

Gage Gay and Zane Lambert failed to earn any points in Kansas City and have no more guaranteed spots on the BFTS after finishing inside the Top 30 of the world standings last year. Gay and Lambert will have to head to the BlueDEF Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division to earn enough points to try and crack the Top 35.

Jay Miller (0-for-2) dropped to 36th in the standings and Douglas Duncan (0-for-2) is tied with Cody Heffernan for 38th. They will be potential alternates for Iron Cowboy.

Skeeter Kingsolver is the No. 37 bull rider in the world, but he broke his right clavicle (free arm) when he was bucked off by DaNutso Sunday afternoon and expects to be out for the minimum of a few weeks. Kingsolver plans on undergoing X-rays on Monday.

Lachlan Richardson used his first two-ride performance since October 2013 (Hollywood, Florida) to help his chances of staying within the Top 35. Richardson moved up three spots in the standings to No. 31 by finishing in 11th place with 55 points. 

The 22-year-old picked up 45 points for finishing sixth in the aggregate (2-for-3, 170 points) and 10 points for tying for fifth place in the second round with Reese Cates and Silvano Alves when he rode Off the Hook for 84.75 points.

“I got one ride (83 points on Pitch Perfect) last week and nearly rode the second one, so I just felt good and was having fun like I used to,” Richardson said. “You start believing in yourself again. Everyone has trouble until you get that one down.”

Mike Lee (31), Austin Meier (33), Robson Aragao (34) and Tyler Harr (35) currently round out the Top 35 of the world standings.

Harris wins event; Schaper wins championship round on Long John

J.W. Harris may have won the Caterpillar Classic on Sunday, but it was Nathan Schaper posting the highlight-reel ride of the day when he began the championship round with an 89-point ride on Long John on the first out of the round.

“He is such a big, strong bull,” Schaper said. “It is not something you are going to pick, but I knew I could ride him. I think about that bull all the time. I am bigger and have a lot of arm to give him. You have to just bear down and stay focused.”

Schaper was the last rider to qualify for the championship round and was stuck with Long John after Kingsolver and Fabiano Vieira (shoulder) had to opt out because of injury.

It was a good matchup for Schaper seeing as the 24-year-old took Long John to the 7.3-second mark last month at the Touring Pro Division Finals in Denver.

The 89-point ride is a season-best for Schaper, and he called the ride one of the favorites of his young career.

“That is up there,” Schaper said. “I don’t think I have ever been that excited out there in the arena, just because of everything leading up to it and all of the anticipation. I knew when I rode him in my mind I was going to throw my helmet.”

Schaper is the first man to ride Long John since Harris made 8 seconds on the bovine athlete in Springfield, Missouri, last season for 87.5 points.

Harris already had his first BFTS career win wrapped up before he nodded his head, but the four-time PRCA capped off the victory with an 88.5-point ride on Crystal Can Do.

Not only is it Harris’ first career win, it is his first championship ride during a regular-season BFTS. He was previously 0-for-8 in the championship round, not including his 93.25-point ride on Honey Hush during the championship round of the 2014 World Finals.

“It was real important,” Harris said. “I was riding more for personal satisfaction and more out there to prove a point that I can still ride the short round bulls.”

Harris finished with a total of 525 points toward the world standings and is now the No. 6 bull rider in the world. He won 400 for winning the event average, 60 for placing second in the championship round, 50 points for finishing third in the second round with his 86.5-point ride on Closing Time and 15 points for tying for fifth place in the first round with an 86.5-point ride aboard Dry Fly.

Injury updates

Chase Outlaw did not compete Sunday after dislocating his right shoulder (free arm) when he landed on his elbow during his 4.53-second buckoff against Sinful Nature on Saturday.

Outlaw’s shoulder was reduced in the training room, and on Sunday Outlaw was at the arena with his right arm in a sling and still feeling the effects of the injury.

“It hurt like hell and it is still hurting,” Outlaw said. “It is the worst pain I ever experienced in my life.”

Outlaw said he plans on getting X-rays on Thursday and is pretty sure he will be unable to compete at Iron Cowboy.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

BEHIND THE CHUTES: Kansas City, day 2

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Here are three things we learned from Round 1 of the Caterpillar Classic at the Sprint Center.

Bruiser showcases talents once again

Bruiser has been putting forth commanding performances in his very early Built Ford Tough Series career and the 4-year-old bull highlighted Round 1 – an ABBI Classic Round – with a 3.17-second buckoff of Sean Willingham.

“He bucked. That bull is really rank,” Willingham said. “I had come out slow and he hit his head (against the chute signage) and it kind of got my momentum going to the right, which is into my hand, and he was still going left. That bull is so rank that he don’t need any help to get you on the ground.”

Willingham didn’t think Bruiser fouled himself, and instead he tipped his hat to the bull for using his head to fool a veteran bull rider.

“That bull bucks way too hard to have any tricks like that,” he added.

H.D. Page’s bovine athlete posted a bull score of 45.5 points. It is the bull’s fourth out of his career in which he has been marked 45 points or better since making his BFTS debut last year in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Bruiser averaged a bull score of 44.82 points in nine previous BFTS outs before Saturday.

Willingham hopes to see Bruiser, who has only been ridden on the BFTS by J.B. Mauney (93.25 points) and Joao Ricardo Vieira (88.75 points), down the line.

“That is an outstanding bull,” Willingham concluded. “I am ready to get on him again and get a little better shot at him.”

Pacheco wins Round 1; Vieira and Aparecido pick up important points

Kaique Pacheco didn’t have to wait long to set a new career-high ride score on the BFTS.

Pacheco became the first rider to make the 8-second mark on Brutus, and the 20-year old broke his own personal-high from a week ago with an 89.75-point ride to win Round 1.

“I saw the bull buck in Las Vegas at the ABBI event last year,” Pacheco said with the help of Guilherme Marchi translating. “He is very strong on the outside and has a lot of up and down.”

Pacheco has demonstrated in the past few weeks a tendency to try and position himself toward the front of his bulls and he explained that he used that same tactic on Brutus, while using his hips to push back some to stay in a positive position.

The strategy paid off and the rookie ended Brutus’ streak of 12 consecutive buckoffs at all levels.

It is Pacheco’s third round win in the last two weeks and fourth this season. He earned 100 points toward the world standings and the No. 3 bull rider in the world shaved No. 1 Matt Triplett’s lead to 822.5 points.

Pacheco trails second-ranked Alves by 42.5 points.

“For me, it is very important that I keep going like I am right now,” Pacheco said. “It was my dream to come here. When I have an opportunity to be here, I give it everything. I want to ride strong here with everyone.”

Triplett was bucked off by Big Dip in 2.13 seconds, while Alves fell to I’m Trouble in 4.56 seconds.

Renato Nunes placed second in the first round and earned 60 points toward the world standings with an 87.75-point ride on Spin Machine.

Nunes began the event 24th in the world standings, but he only had an 85-point cushion ahead of the No. 34/35/36 spots. The 60 points push him to 21st in the world standings and increases his lead to 145 points.

Following Kansas City, the draw for next weekend’s Choctaw Casino Resort Iron Cowboy, powered by Kawasaki Strong, and future BFTS events will be based on the Top 35 of the 2015 world standings.

Joao Ricardo Vieira and Eduardo Aparecido also earned important points on Saturday to separate themselves a tad from the potential cutline by placing third and fourth in the first round.

Vieira rode Rainman for 87.25 points to earn 50 points in the world standings and move up to 23rd.

Aparecido earned 40 points toward the standings by riding Crazy Days and is now 26th in the world standings. He is 75 points ahead of the cutline.

Lachlan Richardson, Douglas Duncan and Cody Heffernan, who is not competing in Kansas City, are the three riders currently holding the No. 34-36 spots in the standings.

Richardson did not earn any points toward the standings with his 11th place finish in the round, but he has put himself in position to possibly qualify for the Built Ford Tough Championship Round on Sunday with an 85.25-point ride on Little Jacob. Duncan was bucked off by Gangster Bucks in 5.52 seconds.

Skeeter Kingsolver is five points out of the Top 35, but he is also in position to fight for a spot in the championship round on Sunday and earn some event aggregate points thanks to his 85.75-point ride on Brass Rain.

Bonner Bolton – fresh off his BlueDEF Velocity Tour event win Yakima, Washington, last week – is only 45.5 points ahead of the cutline and he helped his cause by riding Air Slinger for 86 points. He too did not earn any points toward the world standings, but is in position to battle for a chance at qualifying for the championship round.

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce shows off his dance moves

Travis Kelce may not have scored a touchdown on Saturday night, but he certainly gave the Kansas City faithful one heck of a celebratory dance.

After being jovially taunted by PBR entertainer Flint Rasmussen to show off his dance moves while leaving the shark cage during Round 1, Kelce returned during the final intermission to show off his best dance moves along with a fan in the stands.

“Oh it was fun,” Kelce said. “That is KC fans for you. I love them to death. It was fun to come out here and do something exciting and put a few smiles on people’s faces.”

This weekend was Kelce’s first PBR event, and he also spent some time on the back of the bucking chutes taking in the action and interacting with some of the riders.

Kelce, who grew up near Cleveland, Ohio, was peering down into the chute right before J.W. Harris nodded his head and rode Dry Fly for 86.5 points.

“This is intense,” Kelce said. “It gets your blood going and your heart pumping. It lets you get more respect for the guys that are really up here doing it. These animals are big and ornery. It is fun watching them ride them around.”

Harris finished tied with Reese Cates (86.5 points on Strong Heart) for fifth-place in the round. Both riders earned 15 points toward the world standings. 

Kelce commended the riders for their toughness and taking part in such a dangerous sport.

“I’m going to tell you one thing,” Kelce said. “I have been playing football for a long time, and you are not going to be seeing me getting on no bull right now.”

Injury updates

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Chase Outlaw is out for the remainder of the weekend and is doubtful for Iron Cowboy after he dislocated his right shoulder (free arm) when he landed on his elbow during his 4.53-second buckoff against Sinful Nature.

Outlaw’s shoulder was reduced in the training room, and Freeman expects the No. 7 bull rider in the world to undergo X-rays and an MRI early this week to get further diagnosis.

Eight riders were out of competition due to various injuries: J.B. Mauney (bruised groin and pelvis), Ryan Dirteater (groin strain), Emilio Resende (multi-ligament knee reconstruction), Claudio Crisostomo (left clavicle fracture), Ty Pozzobon (concussion), Markus Mariluch (bicep tear), Josh Faircloth (left ankle fracture) and Billy Robinson (left PCL tear).

Four riders competed with injuries: Triplett (sprained right elbow, riding arm), Willingham (right leg strain), L.J. Jenkins (unstable right shoulder) and Valdiron de Oliveira (sprained right ankle).

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

MAUNEY OUT FOR KANSAS CITY (2-19-15)

PUEBLO, Colo. – According to the PBR competition department, 2013 World Champion J.B. Mauney will not be competing at the Caterpillar Classic in Kansas City, Missouri, this weekend due to his bruised left groin and pelvis.

Mauney is expected to still compete at the Choctaw Casino Resort Iron Cowboy, powered by Kawasaki Strong, and is using this weekend to rest the injuries that have been affecting him since Crack The Whip hit him with his horn during the 15/15 Bucking Battle in New York last month.

RELATED: Mauney fighting through groin and pelvis injury

The 28-year-old is ranked fifth in the world standings and is tied for second on the BFTS with three round wins. Mauney has ridden 10-of-23 bulls on the Built Ford Tough Series.

Ryan Dirteater was a late scratch from the draw after straining his left groin in St. Louis attempting to ride Butcher’s Nightmare in Round 3 and on Thursday said that his groin was “still pretty sore.”

Dirteater is 13th in the world standings and has a 45.83 percent riding average through seven BFTS events.  

Marco Eguchi is also out for Kansas City with an elbow injury. Eguchi will have one injury exemption remaining when he decides to return to action before facing potential relegation to the BlueDEF Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division. Eguchi has struggled all season long (2-for-18) and has only earned 50 points toward the world standings after finishing 15th last year.

In other injury news, Dave Mason (concussion) returns to action in Kansas City after missing the Built Ford Tough Championship Round in St. Louis.  Mason is slated to face Bronco’s Bad Dog (0-0, BFTS) on Saturday.

Even though they are not injured, Austin Meier, who is currently 29th in the world standings, and Stormy Wing (20th) have been given clearance by the PBR to compete at THE AMERICAN SEMIFINALS this weekend in Fort Worth, Texas, in hopes of qualifying for THE AMERICAN and a shot at a potential $1 million.

Skeeter Kingsolver was a late addition to the draw Thursday to replace Dirteater. He will face Brass Rain (1-2) in Round 1. Brass Rain was ridden by Renato Nunes for 88.25 points in January at the Oklahoma City event. Kingsolver now has a chance to try and leapfrop his way into the Top 35 and begins the weekend just five points out of the Top 35.

Douglas Duncan is currently tied with Lachlan Richardson (135 points) and Cody Heffernan for 34th in the world and will try to solidify his positioning for Iron Cowboy when he takes on Gangster Bucks (1-0, BFTS). Gangster Bucks made his BFTS debut in Oklahoma City, where be bucked off Chase Outlaw in 5.68 seconds.

Jay Miller is set to make his 2015 BFTS season debut on Saturday night and the Liberty, South Carolina, bull rider is currently ranked 33rd in the world. Miller competed in four BFTS events last year, going 1-for-7.

Miller has a combined riding average of 50 percent (11-for-22) on the BlueDEF Velocity Tour and in the Touring Pro Division, will face Pearl Harbor (2-1, BFTS) in Round 1. Pearl Harbor bucked off Joao Ricardo Vieira in Oklahoma City in 2.66 seconds.

Bonner Bolton clinched a berth for Iron Cowboy with his BlueDEF Velocity Tour victory in Yakima, Washington, last weekend and the performance also bumped him to 27th in the world standings and into the Kansas City draw. Bolton posted an impressive 90.5-point ride on Major Impact.

This weekend will be his second BFTS event of 2015. He went 1-for-4 in Oklahoma City. Bolton has drawn Air Slinger in Round 1. It will be Air Slinger’s BFTS debut.

Kansas City is the last weekend before BFTS draws is set based upon the 2015 world standings. Therefore, three riders are at risk of losing their spots on the BFTS before Iron Cowboy: L.J. Jenkins, Gage Gay and Zane Lambert.

Jenkins is only 15 points back of the No. 34/35/36 spots currently held in the world standings by Richardson, Heffernan and Duncan.  Gay trails by 70 points, while Lambert is 102.5 points back.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

BEHIND THE CHUTES: ST. LOUIS, Day 3 (2-15-2015)

ST. LOUIS – Here are three things we learned following the Bass Pro Chute Out at the Scottrade Center this weekend.

Wing breaks through with back against the wall

Stormy Wing knew that time was running out on him to gain enough points to remain on the Built Ford Tough Series before facing a possible cut after next weekend’s event in Kansas City.

The 25-year-old arrived in St. Louis 60th in the world standings with only 60 points and had bucked off both his bulls (Slinger Jr. and Spitball) in the first two rounds this weekend.

However, Wing rose to the occasion Sunday and conquered Shoot Out The Lights for 87 points to win Round 3 and earn 100 points toward the world standings.

“I am thankful that I had a good one, I got back and we are going to try and continue it,” Wing said before the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.

Wing was right that he wasn’t done.

He followed up his 87-point ride with 88.5 points on Fire Rock to place second in the championship round for another 60 points toward the world standings.

This weekend is Wing’s first BFTS event with multiple rides since he won his first career-event last year in Oakland, California.

For the weekend, Wing finished in fourth place overall and earned a total of 225 points, 65 of which he earned from finishing fifth in the event average.

Wing heads to Kansas City, which is the last remaining guaranteed BFTS event for last year’s Top 35 riders in the world standings before BFTS draws are based on the 2015 standings, ranked 20th in the world standings.

“It ain’t over yet,” Wing concluded. “That is just one to get me started now. On to the next one. There is always room for improvement.”

Lawrence doesn’t regret his decision

Stetson Lawrence was the only rider to go 4-for-4 in St. Louis, but he still placed second overall because of the amount of event points, which all carry over to the world standings, he earned (450) compared to Kaique Pacheco (490).

Lawrence had earned no event points until the championship round seeing as his first three rides (81.5 points on Grey Wolf, 68 points on Jared Allen’s H4WW Red Terror and 82.25 points on Sundance) all placed him outside of the Top 5 of each round. Riders are awarded points based on where they finish in a round during a BFTS event, as well as the event average.

However, Lawrence nearly pulled off the win after he placed third in the championship round with his 87.75-point ride on Percolator that also helped him earn 400 event points for winning the event average (319.5 points on four bulls).

“I am here to ride bulls and I did my job,” Lawrence said. “There is a guy (Silvano Alves) here that won three gold buckles doing that, so I will keep doing it because them average points are more than anything.

“It is heartbreaking, but oh well.”

Lawrence said he has no regrets about turning down his re-ride option in the second round because he felt he wouldn’t have been able to score high enough on his re-ride to place in Round 2.

“Just like Nathan (Schaper) and I were saying, say I took my re-ride, I would have been 83 or 84 (points) and it wouldn’t change anything,” Lawrence said.

J.W. Harris had placed fifth in Round 2 with 85.25 points, so Lawrence would have had to theoretically score at least 85.25 points to earn any points in Round 2.

Regardless, Lawrence is now the No. 10 bull rider in the world thanks to the 450 points he did earn after beginning the weekend 33rd in the world standings.

Pacheco wins first career BFTS event

Kaique Pacheco earned the first win of his BFTS career by posting two of the highest-scored rides of his young career this weekend after bucking off Ray Charles on Friday night.

“I am very happy because this is the first event I have won,” Pacheco said with the help of Valdiron de Oliveira, who finished third in the event with 310 points, translating. “For me, this is very good because it is important for my confidence to focus and ride these bulls.”

A night after he impressed in the 15/15 Bucking Battle with an 88.5-point ride on Pound The Alarm, Pacheco ripped off an 89.25-point ride on Who Dey to win the championship round Sunday, which gave him enough bonus points to surpass Lawrence’s four-ride performance.

“I was a little bit confused,” Pacheco admitted. “I know a little bit about the points. I know that if you win two go-rounds you may win if a guy rides all four bulls, but does not win a go-round.”

Pacheco’s weekend was at the opposite end of the scoreboard compared to Lawrence. Along with his championship round win, the 20-year-old also won Round 2 on Saturday night by riding Little Red Jacket for a career-high 89.5 points.

His two-round winning scores were the two top rides of the weekend.

He is also now tied for second on the BFTS with J.B. Mauney with three round wins this season.

Pacheco earned 50 points in the third round for his third-place finish after riding Loco Lizard for 86.5 points, and he earned an additional 240 points for finishing second in the event average with a combined ride score of 265.25 points on three bulls.

The 490 total points he earned moves Pacheco to a career-best third in the world standings heading into next weekend’s BFTS event in Kansas City.

Injury Updates

Ryan Dirteater and David Mason were unable to compete in the championship round due to injury.

Dirteater did not ride in the final round after straining his left groin attempting to ride Butcher’s Nightmare in Round 3, and Mason could not get on after he sustained a concussion in the third round during his 84.5-point ride on Amos Moses.

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, both riders are questionable for Kansas City.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

BEHIND THE CHUTES: ST. LOUIS, DAY 2 (2-14-15)

ST. LOUIS – Here are three things we learned following Round 2 and the 15/15 Bucking Battle at the Bass Pro Chute Out at the Scottrade Center on Saturday night.

Pacheco breaks out with statement rides

Kaique Pacheco has been by far the best bull rider on the BlueDEF Velocity Tour this season and the 20-year-old rookie from Itatiba, Brazil, is now starting to translate that success to the PBR’s marquee Built Ford Tough Series.

Pacheco won his second round of 2015 by claiming Round 2 of the Bass Pro Chute Out with an 89.5-point ride aboard Little Red Jacket and then placed second in the 15/15 Bucking Battle with an 88.5-point ride on Pound the Alarm.

Both are the two highest-scored rides of his young Built Ford Tough Series career.

It was also Pacheco’s first chance to shine on CBS network television, which will broadcast the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Sunday at noon ET.

“I am so excited and so happy because I used to be home watching guys getting on these bulls,” Pacheco said with the help of Renato Nunes translating. “I am living my dream because everyone’s dream is to be here.”

Pacheco, who won the Built Ford Tough Championship Round in New York last month with 87.75 points on Rough ‘em Up Tuck, took the time to study film of Little Red Jacket and Pound The Alarm on Probullstats.com prior to nodding his head.

He also took to heart some advice he received from three-time World Champion Silvano Alves last week in Anaheim, California. Pacheco had bucked off Percolator in 4.9 seconds in the championship round and was immediately met by Alves while he walked out of the exit gate.

“Silvano came and said what I did wrong and was trying to push me up because I was so sad to buck off in the short round and it was a good bull,” Pacheco said. “He tried to help me (understand) what I did wrong and tried to correct it so I can ride the next one.”

Pacheco earned a total of 190 points toward the world standings on Saturday night and is now the No. 6 bull rider in the world.

 “I am so happy,” Pacheco said. “I am 20 years old and still have a lot to do.”

Pacheco will head into Round 3 on Sunday afternoon fifth in the event average and will face Loco Lizard (7-3, BFTS).

J.W. Harris currently leads the event average with 171 points following his 85.25-point effort on The Commander in Round 2, which was good enough for fifth place and 30 points, and 85.75-point ride on Slick Rick in Round 1.

He will take on Westley’s Pet (0-0, BFTS) in the third round.

There were 13 qualified rides in Round 2 after the riders made the 8-second mark nine times on Friday night.

While pleased to be sitting good in the average, Harris didn’t want to put too much thought into the fact that five of the six BFTS winners this season have been leading the event average heading into the championship round.

“I am just going to worry about my first bull tomorrow and we will worry about the short-round bull when it comes time to worry about him,” Harris said.

Outlaw wins the 15/15 Bucking Battle

Chase Outlaw and Crack The Whip are becoming quite the dancing partners inside the bucking arena.

Outlaw rode Gene Owen’s bovine athlete for the second time this season and was once again rewarded for his efforts by picking up 89.25 points to win the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

It is the second time Outlaw has ridden Crack The Whip after riding him for a season-high 90.75 points last month at the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden in New York.

“Shoot, I got his number either way,” Outlaw said. “I am tickled to death every time I see his name beside mine.”

It is Outlaw’s second career 15/15 Bucking Battle win and he is now up to No. 5 in the world standings after earning 150 bonus points toward the world standings. He won last year’s 15/15 in Laughlin, Nevada, with 89.5 points on Southpaw.

Outlaw had never seen Crack The Whip go to the right until Saturday night.

“They had him in the middle chute and I think that could have had something to do with it,” Outlaw said. “Out of that back chute he isn’t as close to the fence right here because he is going left and I believe he would have went left, but when he hit he looked left and he saw that fence so close right there he just hit again and went on right.

“The two bulls I got on this weekend before that, they did not go near as how I planned, so I was tickled to death to have him,” Outlaw said. “I knew I was about to spur the heck out of him. Shoot, 89 points? I am not complaining.”

Nance switches bull riding vests, listens to music and conquers Raven Flyer

Cody Nance has been riding for the last month with a new bull riding vest that had a hard protective shield on the bottom half.

The Paris, Tennessee, bull rider enjoyed the added protection the vest offered, yet he was having a hard time being flexible and generating movement during his attempted bull rides.

Therefore, Nance borrowed Mike Lee’s riding vest in Round 2 and the switch paid off as he rode Raven Flyer for 88 points to finish second in Round 2 on Saturday. 

“The bullfighters use that type of vest with the shield plate,” Nance said. “I love the idea; it just needs to be broken up a little more where you can maneuver in the core area.”

Nance had previously faced Raven Flyer three times and after every buckoff he would say that he was going to ride that bull someday. He finally accomplished that tall task Saturday, and Raven Flyer has now been ridden in two straight appearances after bucking off 19 consecutive BFTS riders.

“I didn’t change anything with my mechanics to ride bulls,” Nance said. “I got a little counter weight on the right side. Maybe that helped hold me over there.”

One switch Nance has made in recent weeks is that he has been riding with headphones.

“The past couple of weeks, as the big talk is, I am listening to some music,” he explained. “It is Jesus culture and Third Day Christian music. Frank (Newsom) always tells me I have a big motor and I need to bring it down. The crowds here at the PBR are amazing. Flint and the announcers really get everyone pumped up and for me, personally, if I can have it turned up enough to where I can hear it – I hear all the background (noise), but I can tune it out.

“That is one adjustment that gave me peace.”

Nance, who is also riding with a broken right forearm (free hand), said he was happy to put an end to his streak of eight consecutive buckoffs.

“I kicked that monkey off before I got on,” Nance concluded.

Injury Updates

World leader Matt Triplett saw his streak of 13 consecutive rides in the first and second round of Built Ford Tough Series events come to an end on Saturday when Shaft bucked him off in 2.58 seconds during the second round.

However, the greater cause of concern was when Triplett was helped back to the sports medicine room grasping his right elbow.

Triplett eventually had his elbow taped up and iced the injury for the remainder of Round 2 before attempting to ride David’s Dream, who bucked him off in 3.39 seconds during the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Triplett sustained the injury to his riding elbow during his 86.25-point ride Friday night against Easy Money.

Reese Cates (bruised left shoulder) fought through his free arm injury to record an 86.5-point ride on Damn Right to finish Round 2 in fourth place.

“I had a bull that was a little more rider friendly tonight,” Cates said. “Whenever you are able to control the ride and the get-off a little easier, it makes everything go a lot smoother. That was the case there. I was thankful for a good draw.”

Four other riders are competing with injuries in St. Louis this weekend: L.J. Jenkins (unstable right shoulder), Valdiron de Oliveira (sprained right ankle), J.B. Mauney (bruised left groin and pelvis) and Sean Willingham (right leg strain).

Oliveira was the only rider of the four to make the 8-second mark on Saturday. The 35-year-old placed third in the 15/15 Bucking Battle due to his 86-point showing on Little Gremlin and was awarded 75 points toward the world standings.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko 

BEHIND THE CHUTES: ST. LOUIS, ROUND 1 (2-14-15)

ST. LOUIS – Here are three things we learned following Round 1 of the Bass Pro Chute Out on Friday night at Scottrade Center.

Triplett extends streak of perfection despite flu

Even the flu can’t slow down world leader Matt Triplett.

The 23-year-old bull rider was able to make a veteran adjustment around the 2-second mark against Easy Money before holding on for 86.25 points to finish Round 1 in second place behind Ryan Dirteater despite coming down with flu-like symptoms Friday morning.

“When you are not feeling 100 percent, and you have the flu, you just need to dig down deep,” Triplett said. “That bull really wanted to well-me-in there and I just let him pick me back up and went on with him.”

Triplett, who earned 60 points toward the world standings, has now ridden all 13 bulls he has attempted this season in the first and second rounds of Built Ford Tough Series events. He has ridden five consecutive bulls overall and eight of his last 10.

He also edged Silvano Alves by .25 points in the round to extend his world lead over Alves, who earned 50 points for finishing the round in third place, to 790 points. Alves covered XD Sports Double Agent for 86 points before being tossed into the Wrangler sign near the exit gate.

Prior to climbing in the bucking chute, Triplett listened to motivational speaker Eric Thomas’ speech about Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, who famously scored 38 points in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals for the Chicago Bulls.

Triplett may not have appeared as ill as Jordan did during that legendary game, but he was beginning to look quite pale as he walked back to the locker room.

“If you can just stay focused even when things aren’t going your way it will pay off no matter what,” Triplett concluded.

Dirteater wins his second round of 2015

Ryan Dirteater jumped to 11th in the world standings after winning his second round of the 2015 BFTS by riding Little Joe for 87 points after the bull nearly slammed Dirteater’s head into the front of the bucking chute just as he nodded his head.

“I just knew he was good and, sure enough, it worked out,” Dirteater said. “It got the job done. The bull felt good, right around the right, up and down and just what I wanted in the first round.”

It is his third-highest scored ride of the season and the third that he has scored in the 87-point bracket. Dirteater won Round 1 in Sacramento, California, two weeks ago with an 87.5-point ride on Houla Hoop.

Dirteater’s father, Randy, was in attendance Friday and made the 6-hour drive from Tahlequah, Oklahoma, with his son to the event.

“It was a pretty sticky bull ride,” Randy said. “He did what he had to do and that is about all you can ask for in this sport. It was a good rank bull and he did his job.”

Dirteater earned 100 points toward the world standings for the Round 1 win and will take on Spin City in Round 2, as well as Mississippi Hippy during the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Saturday night.

Colorful shirt pays off again for Mason

Dave Mason decided to keep his lucky trend going on Friday after notching two rides in Anaheim wearing colorful shirts.

Mason rode re-ride bull Dakota Style’s Hy Test for 82.25 points in St. Louis while wearing a bright orange shirt that was given to him by his friend and fellow bull rider Sam Dillon in Australia.

“Everyone is different and we all have our own things,” Mason said. “I have always been a real out-there-sort-of-fella having fun. Even at home, when everybody is looking for me, they just look for the brighter shirt and there I am.”

Mason finished the round in eighth place.

Coincidence or not, Mason began last weekend 2-for-2 in Anaheim before bucking off his final two bulls after switching from two colorful shirts to a black one. He has three packed for this weekend.

Mason’s ride in St. Louis was actually very similar to his second-round ride in Anaheim as he got hung up in the final second for the second consecutive week.

“I started good and that bull sort of got to working on me,” Mason said. “He wanted me in there, then out of there and pulled me down. He just got me shook loose there at the end. You just keep your hand shut and stay on.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

BEHIND THE CHUTES: ROUND 1 DRAW (2-13-15)

PUEBLO, Colo. – Matt Triplett will look to continue his perfection in the first two rounds of Built Ford Tough Series events when he takes his 12-consecutive ride streak – in Rounds 1 and 2 – into the Bass Pro Chute Out at the Scottrade Center.

Triplett has opened a 780-point lead over No. 2 Silvano Alves thanks to his early-event success, five round wins and two event victories.

The 23-year-old will be greeted by Easy Money in Round 1 and Shaft in Round 2. It will be the first meeting between Triplett and Easy Money, who was ridden by Neil Holmes for 85.25 points last year in Biloxi, Mississippi, during his only career BFTS out. Shaft bucked off Triplett last year at the Jack Daniel’s Invitational in 2.15 seconds in their only previous meeting.

No. 3 Reese Cates (left shoulder/rotator cuff) said earlier this week that he plans to compete in St. Louis and is set to face Hard Times (9-2, BFTS) in Round 1 and Damn Right (1-9, BFTS). Cody Nance rode Damn Right in Chicago this season for 88 points. 

Cates and Triplett will also compete in the 15/15 Bucking Battle, which can be seen Sunday on CBS network television at noon ET.

Triplett will get to see if the third time is the charm against David’s Dream (37-4, BFTS). He was bucked off by David’s Dream during Round 5 of the Built Ford Tough World Finals last season and has lasted an average of 2.37 seconds in two BFTS outs against him.

J.B. Mauney has the monster rematch of the 15/15 Bucking Battle when he takes on Stanley FatMax (49-3, BFTS) for the fifth time in his career. Mauney has ridden him once in his career – 2013 Oakland, California, for 89.75 points – and is also the last rider to conquer the bovine athlete. Stanley FatMax has bucked off 22 straight BFTS riders since Mauney’s ride.

Chase Outlaw will have the opportunity to rekindle magic aboard Crack The Whip (6-6, BFTS) after conquering the bull for a season-high 90.75 points in New York last month.

Austin Meier and Robson Aragao are making their 2015 BFTS debuts during the long rounds in St. Louis.

It will be Aragao’s first BFTS event in four years since last nodding his head at the 2011 BFTS event in Portland, Oregon. He will be looking for his first qualified on the BFTS since September 2010 when he takes on HD (0-1, BFTS) on Friday night. Aragao, who has a 65 percent riding average on the BlueDEF Velocity Tour, has drawn The Marlin in Round 2.

Meier enters his first BFTS event since the 2014 Last Cowboy Standing coming off a BlueDEF Velocity Tour win in Worcester, Massachusetts. The 28-year-old has gone 8-for-16 on the BlueDEF Velocity Tour.

The Bass Pro Chute Out has high stakes for Douglas Duncan if the Alvin, Texas, bull rider hopes to avoid being relegated to the BlueDEF Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division.

St. Louis is Duncan’s final guaranteed spot in the BFTS draw after finishing 32nd in the 2014 world standings. He currently trails Aragao by 57.5 points for the final alternate spot before the BFTS draw resets based on the current world standings following next weekend’s event in Kansas City, Missouri.

Duncan has drawn Stuntin Like My Daddy (6-3, BFTS), who was ridden by Ben Jones in Oklahoma City for 86 points, in the first round and City Lights (1-2, BFTS) in the second round. Saturday will be City Lights 2015 BFTS debut.

Emilio Resende (multi-ligament knee reconstruction), Claudio Crisostomo(left clavicle fracture), Ty Pozzobon (concussion), Markus Mariluch (bicep tear), Josh Faircloth (left ankle fracture) and Billy Robinson (left PCL tear) all remain out because of injuries.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

CATES TO COMPETE IN ST. LOUIS (2-11-15)

PUEBLO, Colo. – Reese Cates is ranked third in the world standings and has no intentions of trying to slow down despite a left shoulder injury.

Cates confirmed to PBR.com that he will be competing at this weekend’s Bass Pro Chute Out in St. Louis after X-rays determined no significant damage to his left shoulder (free arm) after he sustained the injury following his 4.36-second buckoff on LL Cool J in Round 2 of the Anaheim Invitational.

According to Cates, X-rays showed an aggravation of a previous shoulder separation and some former rotator cuff damage.

“All things considered, everything is pretty good,” Cates said. “Apparently, there were a couple former injuries in there with a separated shoulder and some rotator cuff damage that I never had checked out or didn’t even know about that could be pretty easily aggravated whenever you take a hit. (Dr.) Tandy (Freeman) said it is up to me. He said if the event was tomorrow, he would recommend taking the week off, but since I still have a few days until I have to ride I should be alright.”

Cates, at this time, doesn’t plan on taping his shoulder or wearing any kind of brace in St. Louis. Instead, he will focus on resting the shoulder this week.

On Tuesday, Cates visited a local chiropractor and received acupuncture and a massage in Arkansas.

He is tentatively scheduled to face Walk Off during the 15/15 Bucking Battle, which will be broadcast on CBS Sunday at noon.

The 15/15 will provide Cates an opportunity at winning an additional 150 points toward the world standings and gain some ground on current world leader Matt Triplett, who he trails by 940 points.

There are also three rounds and the Built Ford Tough Championship Round up that are up for grabs at Scottrade Center.

“It is a long season and there are plenty of opportunities to capitalize and get your points, but with a three-day event and a 15/15 it is kind of a vital event to be at,” Cates said. “St. Louis is always a great event. In years past it has been one of the most notorious events for 90-point rides.

“I am looking forward to being there.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

BEHIND THE CHUTES: ANAHEIM, DAY 3 (2-9-15)

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Here are three things we learned from the Anaheim Invitational this weekend at the Honda Center.

Mick E Mouse wins rematch against Harris in stellar fashion

Mick E Mouse continuously paced back and forth in his pen in the minutes leading up to the start of the final day of the Anaheim Invitational.

He spun around and flicked his ears into the air as his impatience continued while waiting for his chance to compete.

Marlene Henry glanced over the rail and smiled.

She described her bull as “salivating” for the bucking chute to swing open and let her bovine athlete take charge inside the arena.

It was as if she knew her bull had something special brewing in his final out until Iron Cowboy.

Henry wasn’t joking, and when Mick E Mouse finally got his opportunity three hours later he let all of his pent up frustration out against four-time PRCA champion J.W. Harris.

Mick E Mouse lunged powerfully forward just outside of the left bucking chute and swung Harris to the side in 2.65 seconds in an act of brute strength that resulted in a season-high 47-point bull score.

“Today we could just tell he was on his game,” Henry said. “His motor was running all day and I was really excited J.W. Harris picked him. It is a great matchup and hats off to J.W. for picking him.”

Harris selected Mick E Mouse with the 12th pick of the bull draft, but could not overcome Mick E Mouse’s trademark shoulder dip.

“He just kind of dropped that shoulder a little bit and then my left foot come up and I had nothing to stop it,” Harris said.

Mick E Mouse is averaging 45.5 points per out in 2015, but his previous two outs were no comparison to what he did on Sunday.

Henry said she and hauler Kevin Loudamy cut back some of Mick E Mouse’s hay the past few weeks to tighten up his stomach and get him a little leaner. 

They try to keep him around 1,940-1,950 pounds.

Harris called Mick E Mouse the best bull currently in the PBR.

“He has been outstanding,” Harris said. “If we got to pick them, he would be my pick for Bull of the Year right now.”

Mick E Mouse overshadowed another strong out by Long John, who ripped 2004 World Champion Mike Lee over the front end in 1.92 seconds.

“He felt pretty rank,” Lee said. “I didn’t put my legs down because he was pretty nervous in the chute and I didn’t want to make him to upset. I was just a little touch behind and he got me.”

It was Long John’s second consecutive out with a bull marking of 46 points or better.

Sunday was the second time Harris faced Mick E Mouse. He nearly rode the bovine athlete last year in Thackerville, Oklahoma, before bucking off at the 7.47-second mark.

However, this time around Harris was nowhere near making the 8-second mark on Mick E Mouse, who has bucked off 31 consecutive riders on the BFTS.

“He bucked a lot harder this time than when I got on him at Thackerville,” Harris said. “He had a lot more up and down, but I will stick pick him every time.

“If you ride him, you are going to win.”

Matt’s monkey is off his back

World leader Matt Triplett has said continuously this year that he has to learn how to convert in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.

The 23-year-old has taken pride in his early-season success, but there was no hiding the fact that he was frustrated – if not even angry at times – with his 0-for-5 performance in the championship round this year heading into Anaheim.

Triplett finally got to shed that goose egg from his stat line by riding Mr. Bull on Sunday for 89 points to win his BFTS-leading fifth round of the season and clinch his second BFTS victory in three weeks.

“That was my fifth time getting on him and I finally got it done in the short round,” Triplett said. “I did what my dad (Pat) told me and I listened to him. He told me to stay loose, calm and collected and don’t even think about it being a short round. Just go at it as a long-round bull and that is what I did.”

Triplett said his trip on Mr. Bull was kind of what he expected, but he tried to not even think about what Julio Moreno’s bull would do. Instead, he just remained confident in the fact that he covered the bull for 90.5 points last year in Billings, Montana, and tried to treat it like another long round.

He has now ridden Mr. Bull two out of the six times he has faced him on the BFTS.

Triplett earned a total of 615 points toward the world standings this weekend. He earned 400 points for winning the event average, 100 points for winning the championship round on Mr. Bull, 60 points for placing second in Round 3 with his 85.5-point ride on Super Cella and 55 points for splitting second-place with Tanner Byrne in Round 2 with his 87-point ride on El Capitan.

He extended his lead over No. 2 Silvano Alves, who earned no points toward the world standings in Anaheim, by 780 points.

“I have to keep working as hard as I am during the week,” Triplett said. “Six hundred points is obviously just an event win. I have to keep on the grind, keep hustling, keep getting on the bucking machine, keep doing yoga, keep spending time in the gym and keep on working my butt off.”  

A year after breaking his leg, Schaper goes 3-for-4 in return to Anaheim

One year ago, Nathan Schaper left the Honda Center on a stretcher after Bushwacker snapped the Grassy Butte, North Dakota, bull rider’s left leg during the 15/15 Bucking Battle on national television.

This weekend, Schaper exited the arena happy following a 3-for-4, third-place performance that pushed him inside the Top 10 of the world standings for the first time since breaking his leg.

Schaper won Round 3 on Sunday afternoon with an 86-point ride on Classic Whoppin'.

It was the first BFTS round win of Schaper’s career.

“Douglas (Duncan) got on him last weekend and he made a really great bull ride on him,” Schaper said. “He is a very, very little bull and he sure bucked for a little bull. It worked out pretty great.”

Schaper earned 100 points toward the world standings thanks to the round win.

“It is pretty cool,” Schaper added. “With this new points system, I will take it.”

Schaper finished the event third overall with 280 points. He earned 180 points for finishing third in the event average (250.50).

The 24-year-old heads to next weekend’s three-day BFTS event in St. Louis ranked ninth in the world standings.

Injury updates

Reese Cates got to the Honda Center around noon Sunday to get his left shoulder looked at by sports medicine after feeling some discomfort following his 4.36-second buckoff on LL Cool J in Round 2.

Originally, Cates felt the injury wasn’t too serious in the moments following the the buckoff Saturday night, but when he went to hang up his bull rope inside the locker room he began to feel some pain.

Cates eventually decided to not attempt to ride on Sunday after consulting with Dr. Tandy Freeman, and he is now set to undergo X-rays on Monday in Dallas to determine the severity of the injury.

“It is one of three things,” Cates said. “It could be a slight tear in the labrum or the bicep tendon. It could be a fracture on the humerus or it could just be the way I got hit. Either way, my shoulder blades aren’t firing and it is my free arm and I can’t raise it.”

Cates, who missed six months last year because of right shoulder surgery, could have taped the shoulder and attempted to ride Sunday, but the No. 3 bull rider in the world didn’t want to try riding with the inflamed shoulder and risk having it dislocate.

“I’ll get X-rays tomorrow and go from there,” Cates said.

Valdiron de Oliveira also did not compete Sunday. Oliveira sat out with bruising to his abdomen after being struck by Super Kool Cat on Saturday night. According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, he is probable for next weekend’s BFTS event in St. Louis.

Marco Eguchi is also probable for St. Louis despite missing the Built Ford Tough Championship Round with a thigh contusion that has left his leg extremely black and blue.

J.W. Harris is probable for next week after he injured his left thumb on his free arm when his hand was hit by Mick E Mouse’s head. The 28-year-old says he may get X-rays this week to determine if he broke the thumb.

Cody Nance competed in the third round with a cast on his forearm after Freeman determined that he broke his right forearm last week in Sacramento when he was kicked by Boot Jack in Round 1. 

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

3 THINGS WE LEARNED IN ROUND 2 IN ANAHEIM (2-8-15)

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Here are three things we learned following Round 2 of the Anaheim Invitational at the Honda Center.

Triplett remains perfect in Rounds 1 & 2

One of the main reasons Matt Triplett is the No. 1 bull rider in the world is because of his ability to get off to quick starts during Built Ford Tough Series events.

Triplett rode El Capitan for 87 points in front of 10,828 people on Saturday night to remain perfect (12-for-12) this season in the first and second rounds of BFTS events.

“It gives you a boost of confidence going into the last day,” Triplett said.

Triplett is averaging 86.25 points per ride in the opening two rounds this year.

The 87-point ride on Saturday tied Triplett for second in the round with Tanner Byrne. Each rider earns 55 points toward the world standings.

The points also extend Triplett’s lead over No. 2 Silvano Alves in the world standings to 220 points.

Triplett will head into his Round 3 matchup against Super Cella tied for second in the event average with Ryan Dirteater and is in good position to qualify for his sixth consecutive Built Ford Tough Championship Round.

“The only thing, like I have said 100 times, that I have to deal with is the short round,” Triplett said. “My dad (Pat) talked to me and said, ‘When the short round comes, take it as a long round. Go hunting, go fishing, and get your mind off the short round. Quit putting so much pressure on yourself.’”

Triplett is well aware that to get to the next level in his career he needs to convert in that round, where he is 0-for-5 in 2015.

“I know that I can ride the best bulls in the world,” Triplett said. “I just have to go out there and do it and not think about it and just ride bulls like I do in the first two rounds.

“Tomorrow I am just going to come out , have fun and let the chips fall as they may.”

Byrne impresses Gaffney by riding with broken spur

Byrne was preparing to nod his head in the second round on his re-ride bull Cash Ya Out when the bovine athlete jerked forward on him inside the bucking chute.

The fast movement caused Byrne’s left spur to get caught in the chute and ripped the wire off the bottom of his spur.

“Something must have caught in the chute and it ripped the wire off the bottom of my spur that holds your spur on and ripped my boot side that holds your boot on in half,” Byrne said, “but I already had one bad go in the chute and didn’t want to mess around. I just nodded and went and in the first jump I felt nothing there.”

Cash Ya Out then broke into a spin and began cutting underneath him, which forced Byrne to keep throwing his damaged foot up forward to try and maintain some sort of control during the ride.

"That is what helps you stay forward and ride and you get ahold with your feet," Byrne said about not having his spur. "When you don’t have that extra help it is pretty much like you are trying to ride them with your sock because my boot wasn’t even tied on. It worked out and I am happy with it."

Byrne decided not to ask for a re-pull of his bull rope because he already had a rough go of it earlier in the night when his original bull – Pay It Forward – left the bucking chute early and tossed him onto the arena floor almost instantly.

The effort left Michael Gaffney, head coach of Jared Allen’s Pro Bull team, impressed.

“I told him, ‘Way to keep your composure,” Gaffney said. “That is one of the ingredients of being a true professional. Whatever little kinks or wrinkles you have, you have to overcome them, forget about them, adapt to them and move on and do your job. That is what he did.”

Byrne has posted a qualified ride in all six BFTS events this season, and his second-place finish in the round bumps him to 12th in the world standings. He is set to face Super Kool Cat in the third round.

Saturday was a bounce back performance by the Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, after he was bucked off by Cowboy Phil (4.75 seconds) in the first round on Friday night.

“One thing I have noticed is that he has this ability to stay cool,” Gaffney said. “He doesn’t panic. One thing you have to do in professional bull riding is not panic.”

Willingham wins Round 2 with highest-scored ride since April 2014

Sometimes the wily veteran can come through and beat out the young guns in the PBR.

Thirteen-year BFTS rider Sean Willingham rode Hair Trigger for 87.5 points to win the second round of the Anaheim Invitational and earn 100 points toward the world standings.

His first round-winning ride of 2015 was one of 12 qualified rides in Round 2.

“It was a great bull,” Willingham said. “I had been wanting to get on that bull for a long time and I had never drawn him. Today it just worked out good. The bull usually fakes left and goes back right away and today he changed it up a little bit and made a couple of rounds to the left and was really pretty hard to ride – a real heavy bull. Then he went back right and I kind of got a good seat on him and got in position where it worked out a lot easier.”

Triplett and Byrne tied for second in the round, while Guilherme Marchi rode Ranga for 86.5 points to place fourth in the round and earn 40 points toward the world standings. Stetson Lawrence finished fifth with his 86.25 points aboard Rough ‘em up Tuck for 30 world standings points.

However, Lawrence’s better moves may have been when he was able to stutter step out of the way of the charging bull post-ride.

Prior to his round win, Willingham had only 110 points in the standings.

“On a three-day event, there are a lot of points up for grabs and I feel like I had been riding really good,” he said. “I have been covering a lot of bulls, but it hasn’t been showing up on the scoreboard so far. To come away with this win today – the points are there – is going to boost me and to come back tomorrow with a positive attitude.”

It has been just over a year since Willingham, who is 8-for-17 this season, won his last BFTS event in Duluth, Georgia, last season.

“I’ve been coming here for 13 years and never had an event win here,” Willingham said. “It would be nice to come away with an event win here in Anaheim, California.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

 3 THINGS WE LEARNED DURING ROUND 1 IN ANAHEIM (2-6-2015)

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Here are three things we learned from the first round of the Anaheim Invitational on Friday night at the Honda Center.

Gay and Eguchi go slump busting

Gage Gay didn’t even have to say the word “relieved” for anyone in attendance to see the look of relief radiate off his face when he looked up at the scoreboard to see the replay of his 8-second qualified ride.

Gay’s 86-point effort on Wilbur ended the second-year BFTS rider’s career-high buckoff streak of 16 in a row dating back to the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals.  

“It is a big relief,” Gay said. “I have never been on a buckoff streak like that, so I have never felt like the way I do now after falling off however many. It felt like it had been forever. I forgot what it did feel like (to ride).”

The 20-year-old had expected Wilbur to go left and was surprised when he went right and back into his hand.

Gay finished the round tied for fifth-place with Chase Outlaw (86 points on Muddy Smile) and Sean Willingham (86 points on Savage Moves) to earn 10 event points, which carry over toward the world standings.

“I was looking at the points last week or the week before and one or two round wins will put me up there in the Top 25 in the world anyways,” Gay said. “I don’t know. I am just going to keep doing what I know how to do and hopefully it will all work out.

While Gay’s struggles have been the most documented and talked about in the first month of the season, Marco Eguchi has also been struggling with the worst start of his BFTS career.

Eguchi notched his second ride of the season and ended a streak of nine consecutive buckoffs with an 86.5-point ride on Ground Control.  

He too had yet to earn any points in the world standings until Friday night. Eguchi finished fourth in the round to earn 40 event points.

“I need a lot of rides now,” said Eguchi, who is 2-for-13 this season. “I just have to be ready for these events.”  

It wasn’t all smiles for the 25-year-old. Eguchi spent the majority of the night after his ride icing his right thigh which he hurt last week in Sacramento when Super Kool Kat hooked him.

Eguchi said a large portion of his leg is black and blue, but he was able to put weight on his right leg after the event and called it is the latest injury for him this year. He has also been contending with an elbow injury on his riding arm from 2014 that has flared up on him at times this season.

“I need to fight to (stay) on the top (tour),” Eguchi said.

J.W. Harris notches first round win of 2015

Round 1 winner J.W. Harris, who also began the weekend with a significant buckoff streak (seven), had gotten into a habit of watching videos of his buckoffs this season and finally decided to shed that practice this week after his 0-for-2 showing at the Sacramento Invitational.

Harris believes that during the past few weeks he was thinking too much between his own ears and had become his own worst enemy during his 4-for-15 start to 2015 prior to Round 1.

The four-time PRCA champion was able to break through on Friday night by riding Grandpa Joe for 87.5 points to win Round 1 and earn 100 points toward the world standings.

“The bull felt really good,” he said. “I wish he would have turned back right there and then he would have felt really good. He kind of stumbled and just got long on me, which is a little harder to track, but it worked.”

Shane Proctor rode Redbone for 87 points to finish second in the round and earn 60 event points.

Ryan Dirteater was the first of the 20 qualified rides when he covered Wiley for 86.75 points, which placed him third in the round and gave him 50 event points.

Harris spent this week relaxing at home in Texas and just cleared his mind of all the doubts that were creeping into his head.

“Shoot, you start falling off of them and you are just like, ‘Man here we go again, I have to go to another one,’” Harris said. “I just went home and stepped away from it. I didn’t even think about what was going on.”

Harris originally was awarded a re-ride on Grandpa Joe after Big Sky fell over.

It is his first round win of the season and the win pushes him to 17th in the world standings.

“Finally, hell I was just glad to ride one,” Harris said. “I hadn’t rode one in a couple of weeks. Bull riding is mental and I think that is what it was – between my ears. My body feels good and I can’t use that as an excuse. I got on two bulls that weren’t the greatest in the world last week, but you still have to ride those bulls.

“I think we are good to go now.”

Triplett and Mauney continue streaks

World leader Matt Triplett and 2013 World Champion J.B. Mauney extended their unique streaks in Round 1.

Triplett rode Hawaiian Hurricane for 85.5 points, which was good enough for eighth in the round, and he has now ridden all six of his first-round bulls this season.

Mauney continues to battle through his left groin and pelvis injury and stayed aboard Woody for 85 points in the first round. The Mooresville, North Carolina, cowboy’s last 22 rides have been scored 85 points or higher.

Injury Updates

Robson Palermo sprained his right SI joint (pelvis) when his leg was twisted between Wild Party and the chute prior to riding the bovine athlete for 82 points. According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, he is probable for Round 2.

Validron de Oliveira rode Americana for 83.25 points despite a sprained right ankle, and Willingham earned 86 points on Savage Moves while competing with a right leg strain.

L.J. Jenkins, who was competing with an unstable right shoulder, was bucked off by Classic Whoppin' in 4.21 seconds.

Emilio Resende (multi-ligament knee reconstruction), Claudio Crisostomo (left clavicle fracture), Ty Pozzobon (concussion), Markus Mariluch (bicep tear), Josh Faircloth (left ankle fracture) and Billy Robinson (left PCL tear) were all out due to injuries.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

BREAKING DOWN THE ANAHEIM DRAW (2-5-2015)

PUEBLO, Colo. – Matt Triplett will head into this weekend’s Anaheim Invitational as the No. 1 bull rider in the world for the first time in his career.

Triplett has been flawless through the first two rounds at Built Ford Tough Series (BFTS) events this season and is a perfect 10-for-10 in those respective rounds to make up for his shortcomings in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round (0-for-5). He is 1-for-2 in the third round and 0-for-1 in 15/15 Bucking Battles.

The 23-year-old is slated to face Hawaiian Hurricane in Round 1 and El Capitan in Round 2. Both bulls are making just their second outs of their BFTS careers.

It’s been an eventful week for the No. 1 bull rider in the world, who went to Super Bowl XLIX with Douglas Duncan and hiking in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Three-time World Finals event winner Robson Palermo returns to action in Anaheim after missing last weekend’s Sacramento Invitational. It is Palermo’s final guaranteed BFTS event of the first half before he is subject to being relegated to the BlueDEF Velocity Tour/Touring Pro Division for the first time in his career.

Palermo takes on Rio Branco in Round 1, is currently 79th in the world standings with 30 points. It has been a tough start to 2015 (1-for-9) for the 31-year-old and he will need to earn over 125 points to potentially pass Bryan Titman, who is in Anaheim as the top alternate with 155 world standings points.

RELATED: Palermo understands early season struggles with Gage Gay

David Mason and Cooper Davis are making their 2015 season debuts following good performances in the BlueDEF Velocity Tour, Touring Pro Division and international events.

Mason is ranked 12th in the world standings and it will be his sixth BFTS event of his career after making his debut last year in Phoenix. The 27-year-old used four wins in Australia (Townsville, Tamworth, Barooga and Charters Towers) to earn his opportunity to compete on the BFTS.

He also competed at the Salt Lake City BlueDEF Velocity Tour event last weekend and carries a combined 72.73 percent riding average (16-for-22) at non-BFTS events this year into Anaheim.

Mason faces Alex’s Cowboy Monster in Round 1, while Davis gets a tough rematch against Fire & Smoke.

RELATED: Round 1 Anaheim daysheet

Fire & Smoke has bucked in three championship rounds this season (Baltimore, Chicago and New York) and bucked off Davis in 3.94 seconds last year during Davis’ BFTS debut in Nashville.

Kaique Pacheco, the No. 8 bull rider in the world, currently leads the BlueDEF Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division standings and he is back on the BFTS for the first time since winning Round 3 in New York with an 87.75-point ride on Rough ‘em Up Tuck.

Tyler Harr is this weekend’s BlueDEF Velocity Tour invite because of his victory in Reno, Nevada, three weeks ago. It will be the 24-year-old’s third BFTS event of the season, and he is 1-for-4 on the BFTS this year.

Round 2 on Saturday night will feature seven rematches (Ben Jones vs. Shanghai Heat; Brady Sims vs. Mr. Showbiz; J.B. Mauney vs. Wired Wishes; Kasey Hayes vs. Hells A Poppin; Shane Proctor vs. Rock River Red; Tanner Byrne vs. Pay It Forward; Valdiron de Oliveira vs. Super Cool Cat).

Only two of the seven riders won their previous matchups: Hayes rode Hells A Poppin for 85 points last week in Sacramento and Oliveira, who is the defending event champion, rode Super Cool Cat for 86 points during the 2013 Built Ford Tough World Finals.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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