Palermo hopes to return in Anaheim

Robson Palermo will make his BFTS return next week. Photos: Andy Watson /


  • Robson Palermo is aiming to return to BFTS competition in Anaheim, California, and has been getting stronger every day.
  • Tanner Byrne, Fabiano Vieira and Wallace de Oliveira are still recovering from injuries.
  • Koal Livingston will make his BFTS debut courtesy of his Velocity Tour win in Hidalgo, Texas.

In This Article

PUEBLO, Colo. – The 2017 PBR world standings are beginning to take shape, but there are still a few noteworthy riders missing from the Built Ford Tough Series.

Palermo hopes to return in Anaheim (1-25-17)

Three-time World Finals event winner Robson Palermo (torn ligament in his left knee) is one of those riders, and he believes he is now a week away from finally making his season debut.

RELATED: Click HERE for the complete Round 1 draw.

“I am doing good,” Palermo said Wednesday afternoon. “I am planning on coming back next week in Anaheim. I was going to go to Sacramento, but it is still a little early. My knee has been good. It was kind of a mess before. I tried to get on a bull at my house and it didn’t work. It swelled up and all this stuff.”

The 34-year-old is being trained by Tony Cruz at XTC Fitness & Sports in Tyler, Texas.

Palermo has been posting videos of his rehab to social media outlets and appears leaner than he was in 2016.

“I have been training a little harder now,” Palermo said. “I am running fast in the gym right now, and I hope to be good for Anaheim.”

Meanwhile, Tanner Byrne said that he remains a few weeks away from making his 2017 debut after injuring his shoulder in the practice pen the week before the season began.

The 24-year-old underwent follow-up X-rays this week and learned that the crack in his scapula has healed, but that he also has a non-displaced coracoid – the bone that attaches the collarbone to the shoulder – fracture.

“They say still a couple weeks with that,” Byrne said via text message. “Thinking of returning to Iron Cowboy as of now.”

Fabiano Vieira, who is currently ninth in the world standings, is set to miss a second consecutive event because of a dislocated riding shoulder, while Wallace de Oliveira is also out for the Sacramento Clash while recovering from his clavicle surgery.

Brady Sims, who is ranked 12th in the world standings, will not be competing in Sacramento because of a torn ligament in the thumb of his riding hand.

There are a total of 10 alternate riders competing in Sacramento, including two riders who are making their BFTS debuts.

18-year-old Koal Livingston is making his BFTS debut as this weekend’s Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event invite.

Livingston tied for the Velocity Tour victory with Kaique Pacheco in Hidalgo, Texas, in December.

The Burleson, Texas, native is 5-for-11 (45.45 percent) on the Velocity Tour and is 24th in the world standings.

Livingston takes on Whiskey Trip (0-0, BFTS) in Round 1.

2015 PBR Brazil champion Luciano de Castro will also be debuting after being a late replacement Thursday morning for J.W. Harris (ribs). 

Castro takes on Big Naughty (2-2, BFTS).

Castro, whose father used to be a stock contractor in Brazil, went 79-for-93 (84.95 percent) in his first two PBR Brazil seasons. Luciano is also a perfect 10-for-10 at the prestigious PBR Barretos bull riding the last two years.

The 20-year-old is 11-for-20 (55 percent) on the Velocity Tour.

The other seven alternates competing at the Golden 1 Center are 2016 PBR Brazil champion Dener Barbosa, Matt TriplettCody Heffernan, Keyshawn Whitehorse, Justin Paton, Brant Atwood, Reese Cates and Emilio Resende.

In other injury news, Kurt Shephard was released from OU Medical Presbyterian Hospital on Monday afternoon after being held overnight for a lacerated spleen.

Shephard did not need to undergo emergency surgery.

“I’m feeling good,” Shephard said. “I just had to be monitored to make sure the rupture did not get worse. I’m on the mend now.”

Shephard is expected to miss 12 weeks, per Dr. Tandy Freeman.

Current world leader Jess Lockwood brings a 162.5-point lead over No. 2 Rubens Barbosa into Sacramento.

Lockwood has drawn Baton Rouge (0-0, BFTS) for Round 1.

As a reminder, based on the PBR rulebook, riders that placed 1-30 in the 2016 world standings are guaranteed eight BFTS events before being subject to the cutline, while riders ranked 31-35 are guaranteed five BFTS events before being subject to being cut.

Therefore, until the sixth event of the 2017 season (Kansas City, Missouri), all alternates for BFTS events will be based on the 2016 world standings point totals plus the 2017 world standing point totals following any riders with injury exemptions.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Bull power reigns supreme in Oklahoma City (1-22-17)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Here are three things we learned from the Express Employment Professionals Invitational this weekend at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The 2017 World Champion Bull race is “officially” underway now that the PBR’s rankest bulls finally made their debut in the heart of bull country.

In Oklahoma City, last year’s Top 3 World Champion finishers – 2016 World Champion SweetPro’s Bruiser, Pearl Harbor and SweetPro’s Long John all made it a point to prove they are not going to back down from any challenger in 2017.

Pearl Harbor took home top bull honors this weekend with a 46.25-point wrecking of Rubens Barbosa (3.65 seconds) in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, while Long John – the 2015 World Champion Bull – continues to prove he still has something left in the tank and finished runner-up with a 45.75-point bull score for 1.8 seconds of work against Mason Lowe.

Bruiser was marked 45.5 points for helping Derek Kolbaba cap off his event victory with a sensational 92-point bull ride.

Pearl Harbor’s 46.25-point bull score was a career-high.

“If he has a year like you have seen tonight, he will be tough to beat,” reigning Stock Contractor of the Year Chad Berger said. “He had so much power, strength and speed tonight.”

CBS Sports Network commentator J.W. Hart didn’t want to take anything away from Pearl Harbor, but the stock contractor believed Long John was the better of the two bulls Sunday.

“I thought Long John was the best bull out. I really did,” Hart said. “He had the snap, intensity, the kick, the power and the turn into the gate. Pearl Harbor was great. Don’t get me wrong in no way. It is going to be a race. They are both putting their names out there and making a bid.”

H.D. Page of D&H Cattle Company nearly retired the 6-year-old bull after the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals because of Long John’s on-going foot issues.

“He bucked hard,” Page said. “He really did. “I think he is getting better. As that foot grows out, there is some healing going on in there. He is moving a lot better. I would like to have seen him get around there and see what he would have done after a couple of rounds. I don’t know what he is going to do when he goes to really planting and pushing off.”

Long John didn’t need much time to dismantle Lowe, who was ripped over Long John’s front end on the World Champion’s first jump out of the chute.

“He was long,” Lowe said with a chuckle. “I screwed him myself. I held onto the gate to long and I got beat out. It is my own fault. Other than that, he bucked his ass off and I can’t say anything against him.”

Overall, the PBR’s top cowboys struggled against the rankest bullpen PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert has assembled so far this season. There were 15 qualified rides during the two-day event, which included an ABBI Classic Round on Saturday night.

Inferno won the ABBI Classic Competition with an 89.25-point ABBI Bull score. Inferno bucked off Keyshawn Whitehorse in 2.97 seconds in Round 1.

Kolbaba records career-high 92-point ride on SweetPro’s Bruiser

Derek Kolbaba didn’t have much time to celebrate his event victory on Sunday night seeing as he had a 6 p.m. flight home to Walla Walla, Washington, but the 20-year-old is going to cherish his second career victory for quite some time.

Kolbaba rode the reigning World Champion Bull for a career-high 92 points to cap off a perfect 3-for-3 weekend.

“Oh man, it doesn’t get much better than that,” Kolbaba said. “If you get a chance at Bruiser, you get a chance for a high score, and I knew if I gritted it out it would work out. I knew he felt great. Today it got a little wild, but it worked out.”

Kolbaba is now the No. 3 bull rider in the world standings after earning 565 world points in Oklahoma City. He earned 400 points for winning the event average, 100 points for winning the championship round, 50 points for placing third in Round 1 (85.5-point ride on JJ) and 15 points for finishing Round 2 in sixth-place with his 80.75-point ride on Red Moon.

The second-year pro will head into next weekend’s Sacramento Clash trailing his good friend and traveling partner Jess Lockwood by 275 points for the world No. 1 ranking.

“That was freaking dirty and rank as it gets,” Lockwood said.

Barbosa loses out on victory, but earns big time points

2016 PBR Brazil champion Dener Barbosa could not earn his first career victory in Oklahoma City after Gangster’s Wildside ripped Barbosa’s bull rope out of his hand in 5.33 seconds.

However, Barbosa may have done just enough to earn himself a full-time spot on the BFTS this year.

Barbosa (2-for-3) earned 300 points toward the world standings and his second-place finish has him all the way up to 11th in the world standings.

“I am not feeling 100 percent,” Barbosa said with the help of Alex Cardozo translating. “But this is very important for me because my dream is to stay here. When I started riding bulls, my dream was to ride on the Built Ford Tough Series. Now it is really important for me to get the points.”

RELATED: Barbosa riding with shoulder injury

Similar to Brady Sims last week in Chicago, Barbosa becomes the latest alternate to make a big move in the world standings. Barbosa arrived in Oklahoma City as the eighth alternate in the draw and will head to Sacramento tied with Matt Triplett as the top alternate.

Barbosa rode American Sniper for 80.75 points in Round 1 and VJV Nailed for 85.5 points in Round 2.

The 22-year-old earned 240 points for finishing second in the event average and 60 points for placing third in Round 2.

“I knew I had a great bull because I had seen a lot of videos of that bull,” Barbosa said after Round 2. “I never saw a left-handed rider ride him, but God blessed me.”

Rounding out the Top 5 was Lowe (1-for-3, 280 world points), Stormy Wing (1-for-3, 165 world points) and Nevada Newman (1-for-3, 165 world points).

Newman won Round 2 with an 86-point ride on Gangster Can Do. It is his first qualified ride of 2017.

The 24-year-old is up to 14th in the world standings.

“He was really up and down and heavy, but I focused a lot on taking the power away from him,” Newman said. “I have been taking a lot of advice here from Stormy Wing and Cooper Davis. Cooper rides with a lot of knee, so I have been watching film on how Cooper rides. I am watching the guys that win. We ride with the best guys in the world. You can learn from all of them.”

Injury Updates

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, J.W. Harris did not compete Sunday after injuring his ribs on his right side when he was bucked off by Smooth Over in 2.5 seconds on Saturday.

Harris believes he may have broken some ribs and is planning on getting X-rays Monday. Freeman said Harris is questionable for Sacramento.

Kurt Shephard is being hospitalized overnight at OU Medical Presbyterian Hospital with a lacerated spleen after being bucked off by Cut the Cord in 4.18 seconds during Round 2. He is expected to be out of competition for 12 weeks.

Brant Atwood is questionable for Sacramento after tearing the long head biceps tendon of his right shoulder (riding arm) when he was hung up to Red Dawn (4.08 seconds) in Round 2.

Brady Sims did not compete in the championship round because of a torn ligament in his left thumb (riding hand). He too is questionable for Sacramento.

Cody Nance sustained a concussion and lacerated chin when his head collided with Jared Allen’s Air Time’s during the championship round. Air Time bucked off Nance in 6.8 seconds for his 25th consecutive buckoff. 

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Lee continuing to find ways to entertain fans (1-21-17)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Here are three things we learned from Round 1 of the Express Employment Professionals Invitational on Saturday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

2004 World Champion Mike Lee has seemingly always found ways to entertain his loyal fan base over the course of his 16-year career.

Whether it was his celebratory flip or a victory lap around the arena, Lee loves to put on a show following an 8-second ride.

The 33-year-old stepped it up a notch on Saturday night by filming the Oklahoma City crowd with his iPhone as he ran around the dirt after his 84.25-point ride on Biographic.

“I enjoy what I do,” Lee said. “I really enjoy my fans. I really do. They love me and I love them.”

Lee said the plan was to post the video to his social media channels.

“It was a new idea,” he said. “I will post it later tonight. It was pretty boring in the locker room waiting for my bull, so I was thinking of stuff.”

Lee made headlines last month at the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event in Biloxi, Mississippi, when he forgot his $500 iPhone was in his riding vest and Nefarious almost crushed it after the phone fell out of Lee’s pocket mid-ride

Lee had originally ridden Cracker Jax for 29.75 points in Oklahoma City and was awarded a re-ride. The Decatur, Texas, cowboy finished sixth in the round for 15 world points with his ride on Biographic.

“That bull was real fast,” Lee said. “I felt like I was sitting on his head the whole time.”

Lee has drawn Speed Demon (2-0, BFTS) for Round 2 on Sunday afternoon.

Lowe continues torrid riding in Oklahoma City

Mason Lowe may be a Missouri cowboy, but he certainly calls Oklahoma a second home.

Lowe grew up four hours away in Exeter, Missouri, and won his fair share of amateur and youth rodeos as a kid in Oklahoma.

The 23-year-old then nearly won the Oklahoma City BFTS event last year when he went 4-for-4 and finished second overall with a monumental 91-point ride on SweetPro’s Bruiser.

Lowe picked up right where he left off in Oklahoma City by winning Round 1 with a smooth 87.25-point ride on Get Smoked Saturday night.

“Well, as a kid I always grew up riding bulls in Oklahoma because the best bulls come from Oklahoma,” Lowe said. “My mom would always haul me around to stuff in Oklahoma. I kind of feel at home here. It is close to home to. It keeps you calm.”

Lowe earned 100 points toward the world standings with his second round win of 2017.

He is up to 10th in the world standings.

“That felt pretty good,” Lowe said. “I had to wait on him a little bit to get in there before I could kick loose and finish the ride actually.”

Stock contractor Matt Scharping predicted before the event that Lowe could ride Get Smoked for 87.5 points.

The Arlington, Minnesota, native shook Lowe’s hand and congratulated him for the effort.

“Great job, buddy,” Scharping said.

Scharping then added, “That bull is just a good bull. He is only 4 years old with minimal experience. He keeps getting better. I am always happy with bull riders winning on our bulls.”

Winning is exactly on Lowe’s mind as well.

A year after coming up just short of the event win, Lowe, who drove to Oklahoma City on Friday afternoon, is planning on finishing the job this year.

“That would be awesome,” Lowe said. “Any time you can win an event, it is another mile marker. Then you are feeling good and riding good.”

Should we expect another showdown against Bruiser on Championship Sunday in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round?

The 2016 World Champion bested Lowe in their final two meetings last season.

“I mean, if he is there, maybe,” Lowe said. “There ain’t no telling.”

Barbosa gains on world leader Jess Lockwood

Rubens Barbosa extended his career-best riding streak to five with an 84.5-point ride on Over The Top.

The 33-year-old made a quick adjustment on Over the Top when his bull rope slipped as Over The Top tried to dismount him to the outside while spinning into Barbosa’s right riding hand.

Barbosa finished fifth in Round 1 for 30 world points.

“My rope slipped a little bit and he put me to the outside,” Barbosa said. “He then tried to pull me to the inside. I got back to the middle.”

Barbosa is coming off a 4-for-4 victory at the Chicago Invitational and is ranked No. 2 in the world standings.

The 2011 Rookie of the Year trails world leader Jess Lockwood, who was bucked off by Rise & Shine in 7.52 seconds, by 175 points heading into Round 2.

Barbosa has drawn Swamp Wreck (7-2, BFTS) in Round 2.

Stormy Wing placed second in Round 1 with a crisp 86.25-point ride on Colorado Chrome Wing earned 60 world points.

Meanwhile, Derek Kolbaba finished third with 85.5 points on JJ.

“He was a great, little bull,” Kolbaba said. “Cord McCoy said he is just right for me. He would be right there to the left and that was exactly what he was. I kind of had to play a little catch up at the beginning. I caught up and got a spur on him.”

The second-year pro has ridden three of his last four bulls and says he is settling into a comfortable rhythm.

“It feels like a fresh start and that is exactly what it is,” Kolbaba said. “Everyone that is here is a good bull rider and it is all between your ears.”

Things weren’t completely comfortable for him, though.

Kolbaba was sweating bullets earlier Saturday when his flight was delayed 4 hours in Salt Lake City. The 20-year-old landed in Oklahoma City at 4 p.m.

“I left the airport at 6 this morning and I sat in Salt Lake because of de-icing,” Kolbaba said. “I was like, ‘Shoot, am I going to make it?’ I got here just in time.” 

Kolbaba takes on Red Moon (8-5, BFTS) Sunday afternoon.

Three-time World Champion Silvano Alves placed fourth with his 85-point ride on Top Spot. Alves picked up 40 world points.

Alves has drawn Lil Brute (7-2, BFTS) for Round 2.

Injury Updates

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, two riders – J.W. Harris and Joao Ricardo Vieira – are competing in Oklahoma City with injuries.

Harris is riding with a sore right hip and left knee, while Vieira is competing with a sprained left elbow.

Neither rider made the 8-second mark in Round 1.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

PUEBLO, Colo. – Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney will miss the Express Employment Professionals Invitational in Oklahoma City on Saturday and Sunday as he continues to undergo evaluation of his injured right hip.

Mauney informed Wednesday that he was set to undergo another MRI after previously having an MRI done on his pelvis last week.

“Headed to get another MRI,” Mauney said. “(The first MRI) was just on my pelvis. Today is hip with dye.”

So far the 30-year-old has yet to learn what exactly is going on with his injured hip since competing at the season opener in New York. 

Mauney believes part of the issue may have to do with a groin strain – not to mention all of his prior hip injuries.

UPDATE (1-20-17)Mauney returning in Sacramento

Mauney is being replaced in the draw by Brant Atwood.

Atwood is one of 11 alternates competing in Oklahoma City.

Tanner Byrne (shoulder blade), Wallace de Oliveira (clavicle), Lachlan Richardson (bicep surgery), Aaron Roy (leg), Robson Palermo (knee), Jorge Valdiviezo (shoulder), and Fabiano Vieira (shoulder) are out because of injuries.

Vieira said tests results showed no significant damage on his left shoulder after it was jarred loose by Wicked Stick in Chicago.

“I did not have any injury to my shoulder,” Vieira said. “It is sore a little bit.”

Vieira said he plans on returning to competition in Sacramento.

Reese Cates is this week’s Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event invite courtesy of his Ontario, California, victory.

RELATED: Newly married Cates has plenty of motivation in 2017

Cates is 15th in the world standings and will take on Heavy Chevy (0-0, BFTS) in Round 1.

J.W. Harris is using one of his final two remaining injury exemptions, while Alexandre Cardozo is down to his final injury exemption.

Cardozo trails Atwood by 267.5 points for the last alternate spot. He is coming off a 3-for-4 eighth-place finish in Chicago.

The 26-year-old has drawn Bushwacked (1-0, BFTS).

Harris takes on Smooth Over (0-0, BFTS) in Round 1. The four-time PRCA champion is 202.5 points behind Atwood in the alternate rankings.

Matt Triplett, Brady Sims, Cody Heffernan, Kurt Shephard, Keyshawn Whitehorse, Dener Barbosa and Justin Paton are the other alternates competing in Oklahoma City.

Triplett and Sims are both in the Top 10 of the world standings a year after not qualifying for the World Finals. They both went 3-for-4 in Chicago.

Triplett takes on Golly Gee (0-0, BFTS), while Sims will look for 8 seconds aboard Battle Siren (0-0, BFTS). 

World leader Jess Lockwood has drawn Rise & Shine (4-0, BFTS) in Round 1.

Oklahoma City will also feature the season debuts of 2016 World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser, as well as 2015 World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Long John, Pearl Harbor, Jared Allen’s Air Time and Stone Sober.

Round 1 is the first ABBI Classic Round of 2017.

As a reminder, based on the PBR rulebook, riders that placed 1-30 in the 2016 world standings are guaranteed eight BFTS events before being subject to the cutline, while riders ranked 31-35 are guaranteed five BFTS events before being subject to being cut.

Therefore, until the sixth event of the 2017 season (Kansas City, Missouri), all alternates for BFTS events will be based on the 2016 world standings point totals plus the 2017 world standing point totals following any riders with injury exemptions.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Davis: ‘They have a reason to talk’ (1-15-17)

CHICAGO – Here are three things we learned from the Chicago Invitational this weekend at Allstate Arena.

There was plenty of talk and chatter this weekend about defending World Champion Cooper Davis’ focus, mentality and poor riding through the first two weeks of the Built Ford Tough Series.

Davis made sure to silence some of his critics with an emphatic 88.5-point ride on Red Sails In The Sunset to win Round 3 Sunday afternoon.

“Every time I have ever seen that bull, he would fall out to the left and really buck,” Davis said. “Today, he went around to the right and I kept fighting for the full 8 seconds. It worked out.”

Davis wound up just shy of qualifying for the Built Ford Tough Championship Round and finished in seventh-place, but the third-year pro was happy to get back on the scoreboard with 100 points toward the world standings and to hear that wonderful 8-second buzzer again.

The 22-year-old has struggled this year, going 2-for-7.

His first round win of 2017 did move him up to 11th in the world standings, though.

“They have a reason to talk,” Davis said about people questioning his slow start. “I shouldn’t be riding like that. I had two months off and, heck, I guess I was just lazy. I should have been getting on practice bulls. It is nobody’s fault, but mine.”

Davis is coming off a mentally exhausting 2016 season where he rallied on the final day of the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals to win the championship.

With the championship came more requests for interviews and less time to be home or focus on bull riding.

Davis admitted he has been a little bit mentally gassed this year, but explained that he is starting to learn how to handle being the defending World Champ and expects to rebound next weekend in Oklahoma City.

“When I say lazy, instead of going to get on bulls at the end of December, I had other priorities,” he said. “It takes a little bit to get back into it. It takes a little bit of adjusting. I am not one to say no when someone wants to interview me, but when it comes to affecting my riding and how I make my living, I sometimes have to do that.”

Rounding out the Top 5 in Round 3 was Derek Kolbaba (87.75 points on Beast of Burden), Rubens Barbosa (86.75 points on Red Bandana), Ryan Dirteater (86.75 points on Pneu Dart’s Captain) and Eduardo Aparecido (86.25 points on Get Smoked).

Davis has plenty of time to get back into the 2017 world title race and put his slow start to bed.

“If I can go kick some tail in the next 25 (events) or so, I think I will be alright,” he concluded.

Barbosa wins with first 90-point ride in five years

Rubens Barbosa had never gone a perfect 4-for-4 at a Built Ford Tough Series event until winning the Chicago Invitational this weekend.

In fact, the last time Barbosa eclipsed the 90-point ride mark came at the 2011 PBR World Finals when he was a rookie and went 4-for-6 with two 90-point rides.

The 2011 Rookie of the Year channeled his prior self on Sunday by riding Cooper Tires Brown Sugar for 90.25 points and his first 90-point ride in five years during the championship round.

“Before I picked the bull, I had to decide which bull to pick in the championship round, and everyone said that bull is kind of good to get on,” Barbosa said with the help of Guilherme Marchi translating. “I never got on that bull before and I was feeling strong. I got it done for 90.25 points.”

The rank bull ride helped Barbosa win his second round in as many days. The 33-year-old arguably should have been 90-plus points on Saturday night when he won Round 2 with an 88.75-point ride on Machinery Auctioneer's Little Joe.

Barbosa’s 4-for-4 performance helps him leave Chicago as the No. 2 bull rider in the world standings. He trails world leader Jess Lockwood by 205 points.

“I am very happy this week to get on really good bulls,” Barbosa said. “I have no words to explain. I am just so happy for everything.

Barbosa earned 725 total points toward the world standings. He won 500 for winning the event average and an additional 245 points via round finish. The two round wins gave him 200 points. He tied for third place in Round 3 (86.75 points on Red Bandana) for 45 world points. Barbosa began his weekend with an 82.25-point effort aboard Small Time.

Kaique Pacheco was the only other rider to go 4-for-4 in Chicago, but was 9.5 points behind Barbosa in the event average standings, and finished second overall (380 world points)

Rounding out the Top 5 in Chicago was Brady Sims (3-for-4, 275 world points), 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi (3-for-4, 125 world points) and Jess Lockwood (3-for-4, 115 world points).

Lockwood stays on top of the world standings, but wants to be better

Lockwood didn’t have a letdown following the biggest win of his career in New York last week.

The 19-year-old still sits atop of the world standings and gave one hell of a gritty effort in the championship round.

Lockwood hung off the side of Modified Clyde during the final seconds of his 81.25-point ride for his PBR-leading seventh qualified ride.

“There was nothing that went right in that ride except my try,” Lockwood said.

There were six total rides in the championship round.

Margo Eguchi finished second in the round with a season-high 89 points aboard Catfish John, while Pacheco placed third with his 86.75 points on Jailhouse Jr.

Marchi finished fourth in the round with 83.25 points on Wicked Stick. The 34-year-old is now 15 rides away from becoming the first rider to reach 600 rides at the BFTS level.

Matt Triplett (68.5 points on Dennis The Menace) turned down a re-ride option because of a minor hip injury and finished sixth in the round.

The 2016 Rookie of the Year may have finished fifth in the round, but he wasn’t happy with his performance.

“If you don’t look at my rides this weekend, it looks like I did alright, but my rides were not put together well this weekend,” Lockwood said. “I have to follow it up with finishing my rides. I improved on that this weekend, but I need to improve it some more.”

Injury Updates

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Keyshawn Whitehorse sustained a concussion when he was kicked in the head after being thrown from Dirty Vegas in Round 3. He is questionable for Oklahoma City.

Dener Barbosa (concussion) did not compete on Sunday and is also questionable for Oklahoma City.

Joao Ricardo Vieira (2-for-4) finished tied for 19th place after competing with a sprained left elbow (UCL, riding arm) from New York. 

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Alexandre Cardozo trying to make most of dwindling exemptions (1-14-17)

CHICAGO – Here are three things we learned from Round 2 of the Chicago Invitational Saturday night at Allstate Arena.

Alexandre Cardozo finally has gotten his confidence back to cut loose inside the arena following a broken neck at the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals.

Cardozo rode Ram It for 87 points and a second-place finish in Round 2.

“He come into my hand, and I feel very comfortable when bulls come into my hand now,” Cardozo said.

More importantly, Cardozo is 2-for-2 after also previously riding Machinery Auctioneer's

Little Joe for 85.25 points in Round 1.

He is leading the event average heading into Championship Sunday.

“This is really important,” Cardozo said. “I don’t think much about money. I am concentrating more on my bull because I really need to pick up points. I need to do everything I can to make up points.”

Cardozo earned 60 points for the second-place round finish, as well as 22.5 points for tying for fifth in Round 1, but an event average win would net him 500 world points.

Those points would be crucial as Cardozo fights to do all he can to earn a full-time spot back on the BFTS for the first time since 2015.

“My mind feels so good now,” Cardozo said. “Silvano (Alves), Marco (Eguchi) and Kaique (Pacheco) are really working to help me.”

Five other riders are 2-for-2 in Chicago – Brady Sims, Rubens Barbosa, Justin Paton, Kaique Pacheco and Marco Eguchi.

Cardozo is 18th in the world standings.

Two years ago, Cardozo qualified for his first Built Ford Tough World Finals, but it ended with him bucking off Firehouse and breaking his neck (C6-7) and back (T5).

Cardozo is competing at the Chicago Invitational with an injury exemption after he only used two of his exemptions last year. He only has one more remaining before being subject to the BFTS cutline.

When Cardozo returned to competition in 2016, he wound up sustaining an ankle injury in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and a concussion. He decided to compete only at non-BFTS events and finished 2016 121st in the world standings.

In fact, Cardozo could surpass his career total of four qualified rides this weekend alone if he were to finish Chicago with two more qualified rides.

“In my mind, sometimes I don’t believe in myself,” Cardozo said. “The guys are really helping me and supporting me.”

Cardozo was cleared to return competition in Chicago after passing the PBR concussion protocol after Round 1.

He will take on Blue Duck (2-1, BFTS) in Round 3. Ryan Dirteater rode Blue Duck for 85 points in Round 1.   

Cardozo has been training at Michael Johnson Performance four hours a day when his travel schedule isn’t too hectic.

“Before I would spend a lot of time on my phone,” Cardozo said. “Sometimes I wouldn’t train because I would stay on my phone. Now, I put my phone away and started practicing more and concentrating more on my bulls.

“I am focusing on my bulls.”

Barbosa wins first round since March 2016

Rubens Barbosa started things off with a bang in Round 2 by riding Machinery Auctioneer’s Little Joe for 88.75 points and wound up watching on as the next 34 riders were unable to best his score.

“I tried to ride him one time, but he bucked me off,” Barbosa said. “This time, thank God, it worked.”

Barbosa picked up 100 points toward the world standings. The round win is his first since riding Like A Boss for 87 points in Phoenix last March.

The ride is the fifth-best ride of his five-year BFTS career.

Barbosa, who rode Small Time for 82.25 points in Round 1, is third in the event average.

The 2011 Rookie of the Year is now ranked 12th in the world standings.

Barbosa has a rematch against Red Bandana (4-1, BFTS) in Round 3. Red Bandana bucked off Barbosa in Tucson, Arizona, last year in 3.34 seconds.

Rounding out the Top 5 in the round behind Barbosa and Cardozo was Cody Heffernan (85.75 points on Cracker Jack), Brady Sims (85.5 points on Bad Moon Rising), Matt Triplett (85.25 points on Lip Trick) and Mason Lowe (85.5 points on Dew Rag Dan).

Lowe was the only Top 35 rider from 2016 to finish inside the Top 5 of Round 2.

Heffernan’s third-place finish earned him 50 points toward the world standings, while Sims picked up 40 points. Triplett and Lowe each earned 22.5 points.

Pacheco and Eguchi turn down re-ride options

A night after tying for the Round 1 win, Kaique Pacheco elected to turn down his re-ride option following a 79.75-point ride on The Joker in Round 2.

Pacheco, who rode Fire Bender for 86.25 points in Round 1 Friday, is one of six riders a perfect 2-for-2 in Chicago.

The third-year pro is fifth overall in the event average.

“It is a three-day event,” Pacheco said.

When asked if he was confident that he could finish the weekend 4-for-4, Pacheco replied, “Yes sir.”

Pacheco is seventh in the world standings and finished 14th in Round 2.

He will take on Tractor Tippin (0-3, BFTS) in Round 3. Gage Gay tied with Pacheco for the Round 1 win Friday with 86.25 points on Tractor Tippin.

Meanwhile, Marco Eguchi also turned down a re-ride option on Wipeout after covering Precious Air for 68.75 points.

Eguchi is 5-for-6 on the Built Ford Tough Series and is tied with Jess Lockwood, who was bucked off by Swashbuckler in 4.44 seconds, for the league lead, but still decided to turn down the opportunity for a higher score.

“That bull (Wipeout) goes away from my hand,” Eguchi said. “He bucked off Joao (Ricardo Vieira).

Eguchi has drawn Milky Jones (8-2).

Injury Updates

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Fabiano Vieira did not compete in Round 2 after dislocating his left shoulder attempting to ride Wicked Stick in the 15/15 Bucking Battle. He is out for the remainder of the weekend and is questionable for Oklahoma City.

Dener Barbosa sustained a concussion when he was thrown hard to the ground by Buckeye Bill (4.05 seconds). He is questionable for Round 3.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Pacheco ties for round win; bucks off Slinger Jr. (1-13-17)

CHICAGO – Here are three things we learned from the Chicago Invitational Friday night at Allstate Arena.

It took Kaique Pacheco almost two months to win his first Built Ford Tough Series round last year.

This year it took him just two events.

Pacheco rode Fire Bender for 86.25 points to tie with Gage Gay for the Round 1 victory and 80 points toward the world standings.

“I am very happy to ride a very good bull and win the round,” Pacheco said.

The third year pro had ridden six consecutive bulls at all levels of competition after beginning the 2017 BFTS with two consecutive buckoffs last weekend in New York before bucking off Slinger Jr. in 4.97 seconds in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

Slinger Jr. had previously bucked Pacheco off on the final day of the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals, costing him the world title.

To avoid another World Championship shortcoming, Pacheco is striving to win more rounds in 2017.

Pacheco won eight of his 11 rounds last year in the final three months of the season.

The Itatiba, Brazil, bull rider believes those additional round wins can help him ultimately get over the World Championship mountain.

“My job is to ride the bull, but it is very important to win the rounds because there are a lot of points,” Pacheco said.

The 22-year-old has drawn The Joker (1-0, BFTS) for Round 2 on Saturday night.

Pacheco earned 80 world points for winning the Denver Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event this week, and he is up to seventh in the world standings thanks to another 80 points Friday in Chicago.

Gay rebounds from throat injury

Gage Gay bounced back from having his throat stomped on last week at Madison Square Garden to tie Pacheco for the round win.

Gay covered Tractor Tippin for 86.25 points to finish with Pacheco atop the Round 1 leaderboard.

“I will take it,” Gay said. “Well, first off, I had a whole different bull. I got the re-ride and it turned out pretty good. I can’t complain about it. He was just right there away from my hand and a bull that you want. A good, honest bull.”

Gay’s neck still had a red gash from when The Joker stomped on his throat in New York.

“I mean that is just what we do,” he said. “It isn’t the toughest sport on dirt for no reason. We know what we are getting ourselves into when we started. You have be tough. I have never had my throat stepped on, but I never really have been hurt a lot – knock on wood. This was probably one of the closest calls I ever had.”

Rounding out the Top 5 in the round was Brady Sims (85.75 points on Shake It Up), Mike Lee (85.75 points on Beast of Burden), Nathan Schaper (85.25 points on Mister Mean) and Alexandre Cardozo (85.25 points on Machinery Auctioneer’s Little Joe).

Sims was the final alternate invited to Chicago, and he is trying to make the most of his opportunity. The Holt, Missouri, cowboy had qualified for the World Finals two consecutive seasons before being cut from the BFTS last year.

He earned 45 points toward the world standings for tying for third place.

“That is a big load off my chest,” Sims said. “I have been fighting my head at all them Velocitys and all. I know I can ride them, but it is just going to take that one to do it. Whenever I got that call to come here, I was like this is our one right here.

“Last year was a learning experience. I took a lot of this for granted. This is one sport you can’t take for granted because if you let it, it will just keep beating you down.”

Sims takes on Bad Moon Rising (6-5, BFTS) in Round 2.

Schaper and Cardozo picked up 22.5 world points for splitting fifth and sixth place.

Gay is currently 12th in the world standings. He takes on Sledge Hammer (0-0, BFTS) in Round 2.

The Staley, North Carolina, native was confident heading into his 15/15 Bucking Battle matchup against Asteroid, but ultimately he was left dusting gray sand off his riding vest when the 2012 World Champion blasted him in 4.68 seconds.

“I was confident,” Gay said. “He kind of wanted to ball up in front of the box when I nodded and about took me off on the post. He pulled me right down there and I slapped him. Whenever he went back left, he just rocked me.”

Lee wins 15/15 Bucking Battle

2004 World Champion Mike Lee may have struggled walking up to the shark cage inside Allstate Arena to receive his 15/15 Bucking Battle victory belt buckle, but he had no trouble taking Handsome Jeff to an 8-second payday.

Lee rode Handsome Jeff for 87.75 points for his second career 15/15 victory.

“That red bull went right with Ryan (Dirteater) and I was waiting for him to go right and he couldn’t decide, so he went left finally. He went right at the end there and bucked me off at the whistle, but he felt good with good timing. That bull really bucks and kicks over his head.”

Dirteater had ridden Handsome Jeff for 90.5 points last week in New York.

Lee injured his calf in Round 1 in Chicago after Beast of Burden stepped on him.

“It is not bad,” Lee said. “I am just whining about it. It is alright. Bull riders get stepped on all the time. My calf is just tight.”

Lee earned 150 points toward the world standings and is up to fifth in the rankings.

There were two additional rides in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

Eduardo Aparecido rode Big Cat for 87.25 points and a second-place finish (90 world points), while Joao Ricardo Vieira covered Cooper Tires Semper Fi for 86.5 points and third place (75 world points).

Lee spent November and December traveling to Velocity Tour events with a group of Brazilian bull riders from Decatur, Texas.

The 33-year-old and 16-year PBR veteran said being around the contingency of dedicated riders helped him learn how to remain more composed when things may not go his way.

“I have learned a lot,” Lee said. “Being around these Brazilians. I have learned how to be calm and to enjoy life. Sometimes we forget to do that. We get pretty bored after 15-16 hours in the van, so we talk about everything.

“They are just really good family. That is really important.” 

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Pacheco gets rematch against Slinger Jr., Chicago Draw Notes (1-11-17)

DENVER – Kaique Pacheco took a sip of his water and asked Fabiano Vieira which bull he had for this coming weekend’s 15/15 Bucking Battle.

Vieira responded with Slinger Jr., and Pacheco – a little bit shocked – then smiled.

Slinger Jr. was the bull that bucked off Pacheco last year on the final day of the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals. Pacheco’s 6.46-second buckoff against the bull in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round clinched the world title for Cooper Davis and sealed Pacheco’s fate as a bridesmaid once again.

“I am excited,” Pacheco said at the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event in Denver. “He is a good bull. I am ready to ride.”

Pacheco appeared to have Slinger Jr. easily ridden in Las Vegas before he was flung off the side to the disbelief of those in attendance.

"I watched him buck all the time before the Finals," Pacheco added with the help of Silvano Alves on Wednesday night. "He bucked differently at the Finals. I was confident him, but he surprised me and changed it up. I will go hard this week to ride him. I will try to cover him in Chicago. I will try for a good score.”

The 22-year-old is coming off a slow start at the BFTS season-opener in New York, but he went 2-for-2 in Denver on Monday night and is in contention for the Velocity Tour victory on Wednesday night.

The Chicago Invitational takes place Friday-Sunday and Pacheco will first take on Fire Bender (11-7, BFTS) in Round 1 on Friday night. Pacheco then will look for revenge against Slinger Jr. in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

The 15/15 Bucking Battle will air Saturday at noon on CBS national television.

Derek Kolbaba, Stetson Lawrence and Gage Gay will be competing in the 15/15 Bucking Battle as alternates because Tanner Byrne (shoulder blade), Wallace de Oliveira (broken clavicle) and J.B. Mauney (hip) are unable to compete.

Kolbaba draws in to face Gambini, while Lawrence will take on Catfish John. Gay will face 2012 World Champion Bull Asteroid.

Below are the 15/15 Bucking Battle matchups

Derek Kolbaba vs. Gambini (1-0, BFTS)
Chase Outlaw vs. Smooth Operator (30-2, BFTS)
Stetson Lawrence vs. Catfish John (13-5, BFTS)
Paulo Lima vs. Who Dey (26-7, BFTS)
Shane Proctor vs. Flight Plan (9-2, BFTS)
Mike Lee vs. Handsome Jeff (12-4, BFTS)
Fabiano Vieira vs. Wicked Stick (11-2, BFTS)
Jess Lockwood vs. Beaver Creek Beau (46-5, BFTS)
Eduardo Aparecido vs. Big Cat (3-4, BFTS)
Guilherme Marchi vs. Pneu-Dart's Southern Style (3-1, BFTS)
Joao Ricardo Vieira vs. Cooper Tires Semper Fi (28-13, BFTS)
Ryan Dirteater vs. Red Moon (8-5, BFTS)
Gage Gay vs. Asteroid (58-4, BFTS)
Kaique Pacheco vs. Slinger Jr. (29-1, BFTS)
Cooper Davis vs. Bad Touch (14-0, BFTS)

World leader Jess Lockwood has drawn Big Stuff (0-0, BFTS) for Round 1 and leads No. 2 Marco Eguchi by 280 points in the world standings. Eguchi will face off against Dirty Deeds (2-2, BFTS).

There are 11 alternates competing in Chicago this weekend.

J.B. Mauney (hip), Tanner Byrne (shoulder blade), Wallace de Oliveira (clavicle), Lachlan Richardson (bicep surgery), Aaron Roy (leg), Robson Palermo (knee) and Dakota Buttar (personal) are unable to compete.

J.W. Harris and Alex Cardozo are competing because of injury exemptions, while Robson Aragao is this week’s Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour invite because of his win last year in Portland, Maine.

Matt Triplett, Cody Heffernan, Brant Atwood, Keyshawn Whitehorse, Kurt Shephard, Dener Barbosa, Justin Paton and Reese Cates are the other alternates.

Barbosa – the 2016 PBR Brazil Champion – will be making his BFTS regular-season debut against Milky Jones (7-2, BFTS) after going 3-for-6 at last year’s World Finals.

Shephard, Paton and Cates are also making their 2017 season debuts.

Cates is currently eighth in the world standings based on his performance on the Velocity Tour. He has drawn Vegas Outlaw (8-3, BFTS).

As a reminder, based on the PBR rulebook, riders that placed 1-30 in the 2016 world standings are guaranteed eight BFTS events before being subject to the cutline, while riders ranked 31-35 are guaranteed five BFTS events before being subject to being cut.

Therefore, until the sixth event of the 2017 season (Kansas City, Missouri), all alternates for BFTS events will be based on the 2016 world standings point totals plus the 2017 world standing point totals following any riders with injury exemptions.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Mauney to get X-rays on injured hip (1-8-17)

NEW YORK – Here are three things we learned from this weekend’s Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden on Sunday afternoon.

Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney is leaving New York with a big question heading into his 30th birthday on Monday.

Mauney has been dealing with a chronic hip injury for years, but the Mooresville, North Carolina, cowboy believes he may have severely aggravated his hip or sustained a new injury inside Madison Square Garden this weekend.

Mauney has been barely able to walk ever since he was bucked off by WSM Auctioneer’s Dew Rag Dan (4.82 seconds) in Round 1 on Friday night.

After bucking off in Round 2 (Big Tex Rocks The Chute, 3.21 seconds), Mauney had a further conversation with Dr. Tandy Freeman and decided that he would undergo X-rays when he returns home to North Carolina this week.

Mauney landed on his backside and did a back roll when he hit the dirt hard against Dew Rag Dan and believes that might be where his latest injury occurred.

“I am real sore,” Mauney said as he held himself up on a Monster Energy cooler. “Either tomorrow or Tuesday I will get X-rays. Usually I will get over it. It will hurt when I ride, but by the next day when I get up moving around it goes away. This here – it has been hurting ever since I got on that bull the other day.”

Mauney had never begun a season with two consecutive BFTS buckoffs in his 12-year career until this weekend.

He bounced back on Sunday afternoon with an 87.5-point ride on Big Tex Walk Off, but later bucked off Mystical in 6.67 seconds during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.

“You keep your hand shut and don’t quit until that whistle blow,” Mauney said before the championship round.

Freeman said it is too early to speculate on any potential scenarios that could keep Mauney out long term. However, Freeman said there appears to be an issue near Mauney’s SI joint and trochanter.

For now, the goal is to get a better picture of what is going on with Mauney’s right hip.

“It is something new and we are going to get some X-rays, and hopefully he will get them done tomorrow or the next day, and go from there,” Freeman said. “Part of it is stuff that he had. He has some problems with his SI joint on that side and it is really stuck down and not moving like it is supposed to. It is bad enough that it is making it a little hard to evaluate the other stuff. J.B. is real tender over his trochanter. All of the muscles that attach to it hurt when he tries to make those muscles work. He may have something going on with it.”

 Mauney said he is unsure of what his decision will be if surgery is recommended.

“We will get the X-rays, send them Tandy and see what he says,” Mauney said.

Mauney understands he is in the latter half of his career, but says he is far from done.

“I am not through yet,” Mauney said. “Yeah, I am getting a little older, but I ain’t done yet.”

Lockwood wins first PBR Major

Jess Lockwood overcame a few demons from 2016 this weekend in New York by winning his first PBR Major and a career-high $117,183.33.

Lockwood went 4-for-4 and clinched the victory with a gritty 82.25-point ride on Naughty List.

“This is the way to kick off the season,” Lockwood said. “I couldn’t be happier. It helps so much having my family here. This is so special. This is the greatest thing that ever happened in my career. The points that came with it. The money. My family here. It means a lot.”

It is the first event the second-year pro and new world leader has not bucked off a bull.

The 19-year-old was competing in his first event since bucking off all five of his bulls at the World Finals, while also heading into Sunday’s championship round with five consecutive buckoffs in championship rounds.

“No I wasn’t thinking about that,” Lockwood said. “I was just pumped up. I knew he was going to be a really good bull and fit my style really good. I started to mess him up, but I just kept my hand in my rope, let him pull me down and did whatever it took to make the whistle.”

The ride was his second 82.25-point effort Sunday. In Round 3, Lockwood covered Pitch Black for 82.25 points.

Lockwood earned 860 points toward the world standings with his victory. He earned 625 of those for winning the event average.

He began his season by tying for the Round 1 victory (87.75 points on Dennis the Menace) for 100 world points and followed that up with a second-place finish and 75 world points in Round 2 (87.25 points on X Factor).

Marco Eguchi (550 world points), Ryan Dirteater (378. world points), Fabiano Vieira (258.3 world points) and Matt Triplett (175 world points) rounded out the Top 5.

This is the first time Lockwood has ever been ranked No. 1 in the world standings.

He heads into next weekend’s Chicago Invitational with the other 34 riders in the locker room wanting his No. 1 world ranking.

“It is the first event,” Lockwood said with a big grin. “It is a long way from the Finals. We have to follow up the season with this now.”

Dirteater overcomes injury with monster ride

Ryan Dirteater’s right riding arm and calf were covered in deep and dark bruises, but the minor injuries weren’t going to slow him down on Sunday afternoon.

Less than 24 hours after being roughed up by St. Patty in Round 2, Dirteater came right back with an 85.75-point ride on Pneu Dart’s Captain and then a monster 90.5-point ride on Handsome Jeff to win the championship round.

The ride was the first 90-point ride of the season.

“That is a good way to start the season,” Dirteater said. “I wish I would have stayed on my bull last night. I didn’t finish it. I rode three out of four, that is a good way to start the season. L.J. Jenkins said to pick his bull Handsome Jeff and I didn’t second guess myself.”

The ride was Dirteater’s 11th 90-point ride of his career and first since Sept. 2013.

“I don’t have very many, but I have had some 90s before,” Dirteater said. “If I keep riding the rank bulls, the judges will have to keep scoring me 90.”

Dirteater said there was no way he wasn’t competing on Sunday.

“You have to shake it off,” Dirteater explained. “I guess it is that Cherokee tough.”

Dirteater finished 3-for-4 and in third place overall. He leaves New York as the No. 3 rider in the world standings after picking up 378.33 world points.

The Hulbert, Oklahoma, bull rider earned 220 world points for finishing third in the event average, 120 for winning the championship round, 30 for tying for fifth place in Round 3 and 3.3 points for tying for seventh in Round 1.

“It is a lot of confidence, especially coming off the Finals,” Dirteater said. “I am rolling.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Lockwood and Buttar making the most of first trip to New York (1-7-17)

NEW YORK – Here are three things we learned from Round 2 of the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

2016 Rookie of the Year Jess Lockwood and Canadian Dakota Buttar are making the most of their first trips to the Big Apple.

Lockwood rode X Factor for 87.25 points in Round 2 for a second-place finish and heads into Championship Sunday leading the event average. He is one of six riders a perfect 2-for-2 in New York.

“Away from my hand again,” Lockwood said. “He really sucked back right away and kind of had me tipped and I kept riding and I was never where I wanted to be but I was working for it and that is what got me to the whistle.

“You want to win every weekend you show up, but when it is a PBR Major you want to try a little bit extra.”

Lockwood got into New York earlier this week and did some media appearances leading up to the event.

The 19-year-old rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange Friday morning and has done some touring of the city with his family.

“We have gone everywhere kind of,” Lockwood said. “We went to Rockefeller Center, Central Park, Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge. We have been trying to have fun and do everything.”

Lockwood is definitely having fun inside the bull riding arena and will look for more success Sunday against Pitch Black.

The Volborg, Montana, bull rider isn’t the only newbie in New York hitting 8-second paydays.

Buttar is sitting in fifth place in the event average after riding Time Bomb for 83 points on Saturday night.

Time Bomb previously bucked off Buttar during Round 4 of the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals. 

“I just didn’t want to let go,” Buttar said. “He bucked me off in Vegas and I wanted to get some payback on him.”

Buttar hasn’t done any sightseeing in New York just yet after a long travel day Friday.

The 24-year-old and his girlfriend Caitlin Brooks left Canada at 3 a.m. and didn’t arrive in The City That Never Sleeps until 4 p.m. 

Buttar did make sure to grab a slice of New York pizza after his 83.5-point ride on Sarge in Round 1.

“Right after the event, we went and got pizza and went to bed,” Buttar said. “(Saturday), we slept until noon.”

Buttar hopes to do some exploring Sunday night after the conclusion of the Buck Off at the Garden.

He will take on Blue Duck in Round 3.

“I want to see a couple of things before I leave,” he added. “I would like to go see the Twin Towers memorial.”

Buttar and Lockwood agreed there is something special about competing in the historic venue, which first opened in its current location in 1968 and has been hosting PBR events since 2007.

“I grew up watching it on TV all the time and saw guys at Madison Square Garden,” Buttar said. “I am finally here. It is pretty awesome.”

Lockwood added, “Kind of. I have my mom and cousin with me and that has made a world of a difference. Whenever I can have my family with me, I seem to be a lot more comfortable at the events just because I am still young.”

Fabiano in position to repeat

Fabiano Vieira says many Brazilian bull riders dream about one day competing in New York and he was fortunate enough to tie for the event victory with J.B. Mauney in 2014.

The Perola, Brazil, bull rider hopes on Sunday he can celebrate an outright victory inside MSG.

Vieira (2-for-2) won Round 2 with an 87.5-point ride on Rocco and heads into Round 3 sitting in second place overall.

“I was a little bit scared to ride this bull now,” Vieira said. “Every time he bucks strong. I watched two videos of him with J.B. He is strong. He is no easy bull at all. I needed to concentrate to ride good today. God helped me stay on.”

Vieira has drawn It’s Complicated for Sunday afternoon.

“Many people in Brazil come over here for this nice event,” Vieira said. “I would be very happy to win again. This is a nice event.”

Davis bounces back from Round 1 buckoff

By no means was it time to panic after reigning World Champion Cooper Davis bucked off Pneu Dart's Captain in 4.99 seconds during Round 1 on Friday night.

Still, Davis was certainly much happier on Saturday night after getting his first qualified ride of the season.

The 22-year-old finished third in Round 2 with a crisp 86-point ride on Gucci Galore

“That is a big relief,” Davis said. “The first one of the season is always a little hectic.”

Davis has drawn Pneu-Dart's Southern Style for Round 3 on Sunday.

So what happen in Round 1?

“It happens,” Davis said. “You fall off. You win some. You lose some. We still have a long season left. I will take it as it comes.”

Injury Updates

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Ryan Dirteater sustained bruising of his right elbow and right calf when he was stepped on after being thrown by St. Patty in Round 2. He is probable for Round 3.

Jorge Valdiviezo sustained a left shoulder injury (possible fracture, free arm) when he was hit by Shakey’s horn during his second-round buckoff. He is doubtful for Round 3.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Lockwood bounces back from poor World Finals (1-6-17)

NEW YORK – Here are three things we learned from Round 1 of the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden.

Jess Lockwood had a miserable 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals as he struggled with an injury to his left riding hand and capping his Rookie of the Year season with a big goose egg on the PBR’s biggest stage.

Friday night, on arguably one of the next largest stages on the PBR calendar, Lockwood split the Round 1 victory with Mason Lowe with an 87.75-point ride on Dennis The Menace to officially put to rest his World Finals woes.

“It feels pretty good,” Lockwood said. “That bull really tested it moving ahead on me and making me ride.”

How careful was Lockwood with his riding hand, which he ended up not needing surgery on, in the two months following the World Finals.

“I took that break the whole time. I was pretty diligent with it. The doctor said to use my hand as little as possible. I wouldn’t even hardly pick up a jug of milk with my left hand. No lie. In fear of hurting it or lengthening the healing process.”

Lockwood earned 100 points toward the world standings for splitting the round win with Lowe, who rode Slick Rick for 87.75 points and also picked up 100 world points.

“I have had my ups and downs, but it is a new year,” Lowe said. “I will tell you what. It is going to be my year.”

Lockwood set a PBR rookie record with eight round wins in 2016. He now has one round win after the first night of bull riding already.

The 19-year-old admits coming up short at the World Finals, high school national finals and Montana state finals last year has been a reminder he needs to keep striving to be better.

“Oh yeah,” Lockwood said. “Any time you fail it should motivate you more. I don’t like to look silly and embarrass myself. I did that a couple of times. It motivated me, for sure.”

Lockwood has drawn X Factor for Round 2 on Saturday night, while Lowe will look for 8 seconds against Stitch (0-0, BFTS).

Lockwood immediately headed to sports medicine to wrap his hand in ice following the ride. He wasn’t in any pain, but is planning on following the instruction of Dr. Tandy Freeman the PBR Sports Medicine Team to avoid any setbacks.

The Volborg, Montana, bull rider was instructed to also ice his hand again when he returned to his hotel room on Saturday night.

“I am going to ice it and just keep it as healthy as I can,” Lockwood said.

Triplett continues push to return to the Built Ford Tough Series

World leader Matt Triplett technically doesn’t have an official seat on the BFTS after an injury-riddled 2016 resulted in him finishing outside of the Top 35 of the world standings.

Following a strong fall run in Australia, Triplett continued his torrid start to 2017 as he tries to get back onto the BFTS full time with a third-place finish in Round 1.

The 25-year-old started the season off with an 87-point ride on Little Red Jacket. He earned 60 points toward the world standings and leads No. 2 Mike Lee by 100 points. Lee finished sixth in the round with an 86.25-poin effort on Dirty Vegas.

“It was hard last year watching this event from home,” said Triplett, who missed the 2016 event because of elbow surgery. “This has been eating me up since I didn’t make the (2016) Finals. When you are an athlete and you don’t reach a goal you set for the year, it pisses you off. I held that anger in me and taking it one bull at a time.”

Triplett has a Round 2 matchup with RMEF (0-0, BFTS).

“I have been doing a new thing,” Triplett said. “I am not looking at what bull I got until I get here, so I don’t play head games with myself. These animals are athletes as their own. That bull nine times out of 10 goes right and tonight decided to go left.”

The Columbia Falls, Montana, bull rider is a big sports fan and is hoping to etch his own name into Madison Square Garden lore with a victory this weekend.

“It is huge,” Triplett said. “Conor McGregor fought here. The Knicks play here. There are so many great professional athletes that have been here. I come here, I set my bag down and I just sit and think, ‘Man, all of the bad guys that have been here.’ I can’t even describe how good it feels to be in the same locker room as them athletes.”  

Rounding out the Top 5 in the round was three-time World Champion Silvano Alves (86.5 points on Machinery Auctioneer's Little Joe) and Derek Kolbaba (86.5 points on Grave Digger).

Alves had to hustle to nod his head after the chute clock went all the way down to 3 seconds. The 29-year-old wasn’t fazed and easily rode Little Joe.

“This is my first ride and I have a lot of confidence,” Alves said of his celebration. “I am happy to start the year and have my family with me here. My confidence is even better than at the Finals. I am not thinking about (injuries) or my body. Just riding.”

Top 3 from 2016 all buck off in 2017 season debuts; Dirteater keeps it going

There is no need to sound the alarms following the first night of the 2017 season, but it was interesting to see the Top 3 bull riders from 2016 all buck off in their season debuts.

Defending World Champion Cooper Davis was bucked off by Pneu Dart’s Captain in 4.99 seconds, 2015 Rookie of the Year Kaique Pacheco was jarred loose of Trick Shot at the 7.23-second mark and two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney got folded over after being bucked off by WSM Auctioneers Dew Rag Dan (4.82 seconds).

Prior to the championship round at the Finals, Davis, Mauney and Pacheco hadn’t bucked off in the same round in which all three competed since August (15/15 Bucking Battle in Tulsa, Oklahoma).

On the plus side, 2016 World Finals event winner Ryan Dirteater rode Hustle Man for 84.5 points to finish Round 1 tied for seventh place.  

“He was right around the left, just what you want, into my hand,” Dirteater said. “I loosened up a little bit. I can’t spur like I used to when I was younger. It looks like I just shuffle my feet, but I did. It felt good.”

Dirteater has ridden eight in a row dating back to last year. He faces Saint Patty (0-0, BFTS) in Round 2 on Saturday night.

“I am not going to think about that,” he concluded. “I am just going to ride what they give me.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Triplett begins season as world No. 1; injuries already piling up (1-4-17)

PUEBLO, Colo. – The big winner of the PBR’s international, Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division in November and December was Matt Triplett.

The 25-year-old went 8-for-13 (61.54 percent) at all levels of competition, including two PBR Australia victories, to earn 175 points toward the world standings.

Triplett used the two months of competition to try and earn enough world points to get back onto the Built Ford Tough Series after missing the majority of the 2016 season because of elbow and shoulder surgeries.

In the grand scheme of things, 175 world points may seem miniscule. However, Triplett – the current world No. 1 bull rider – earned enough points, in combination with his 2016 world standing point totals, to earn an alternate position for this weekend’s Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden season opener.

The Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden is the first of four PBR Majors this season. The event winner takes home $100,000.

RELATED: Click HERE for the Round 1 Draw

By being an alternate, Triplett was able to save his two remaining injury exemptions for later on this season if he fails to earn enough points to remain on the Built Ford Tough Series.

As a reminder, based on the PBR rulebook, riders that placed 1-30 in the 2016 world standings are guaranteed eight BFTS events before being subject to the cutline, while riders ranked 31-35 are guaranteed five BFTS events before being subject to being cut.

Therefore, until the sixth event of the 2017 season (Kansas City, Missouri), all alternates for BFTS events will be based on the 2016 world standings point totals plus the 2017 world standing point totals following any riders with injury exemptions.

Triplett, who did sustain a shoulder injury in Southaven, Mississippi, has drawn Little Red Jacket (20-15, BFTS) in Round 1 and begins the season with a 60-point lead on No. 2 Mike Lee in the world standings.

Last season, 175 points would have placed Triplett 26th in the world standings following the eight BFTS event. Therefore, Triplett appears to have done enough to keep himself in contention for weekly draw spot before the BFTS draws reset based upon 2017 standings.

This is the second season that Triplett competed in Australia. The Colombia Falls, Montana, bull rider is looking for similar success.

In 2015, Triplett went 7-for-11 in Australia with three Top-3 finishes, propelling him to a fifth-place finish in the world standings and a career-best 42.31 percent riding average.

He hopes 2017 has a similar, if not better, result.

There are seven riders from last year’s Top 35 unavailable to compete in New York – Tanner Byrne (shoulder blade), Lachlan Richardson (bicep surgery), Robson Palermo (knee), Ty Pozzobon (hand), Valdiron de Oliveira (retirement), Aaron Roy (leg) and Kasey Hayes (retirement).

Byrne fractured his shoulder blade on Saturday when he was attempting some practice bulls in preparation for the 2017 kickoff.

“I was practicing up for the season and a bull stepped on my shoulder (free arm) and fractured my shoulder blade,” Byrne said.

Byrne is unsure of how long the injury will keep him out, but he believes he won’t need surgery.

“No surgery or nothing,” Byrne said. “Just got to let it heal up for a few days and then get strength and movement back. I am day-to-day for now.”

Pozzobon expects to miss the first month of the season because of his on-going riding hand injury.

“It’s still pretty sore,” Pozzobon said. “No surgery (needed), just time. I figure I will be good by Anaheim. I’ll be ready to roll.”

Palermo said he has scheduled an appointment with Dr. Tandy Freeman to get an update on his torn PCL that he aggravated during Round 2 of the World Finals.

Four-time PRCA champion J.W. Harris, who missed the majority of 2016 because of elbow, hip and knee surgery, will be using one of four injury exemptions remaining, while Alexandre Cardozo is set to use one of his three remaining.

Harris has drawn Tractor Tippin (0-0, BFTS) and Cardozo will see Ace (1-2, BFTS) in Round 1.

The four additional draw spots were filled by Cody Heffernan, Jorge Valdiviezo, Keyshawn Whitehorse and Brant Atwood.

Heffernan takes on Jailbreaker (10-1, BFTS) in Round 1.

Valdiviezo has a matchup against Crooked Face (7-1, BFTS), while Whitehorse will look for 8 seconds on Northside (0-0, BFTS).

Atwood has a good matchup against Micro Man (0-3, BFTS).

Fraser Babbington and Kurt Shephard were offered alternate positions, but neither could make it back to the United States in time for this weekend’s competition.

Defending World Champion Cooper Davis begins his title defense against Pneu Dart’s Captain (0-0, BFTS).

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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