Cody Lambert has never been one to mince words.
The PBR livestock director opened this week's Podcast by saying, "It's make it or break it time for the bull riders and a few of the bulls."
Several riders in the Columbus, Ohio, draw are outside of the Top 40 in the qualifier standings.
Slade Long, PBR statistician and co-host of Lambert's weekly podcast, said in the past 11 years no rider has won the Columbus event without riding all of his bulls. Lambert said the main reason is because "most of the bulls that are going to Las Vegas in two weeks aren't going to be in Columbus."
Historically, Columbus is the last regular-season event of the season.
"The Finals list is in, and usually those bulls are getting a break before they make the long trip to Las Vegas," Lambert said. "If they're close to Las Vegas, it's too far to go to Columbus and back, so it makes a lot of sense to not go there.
"However, we still have 15 bulls that are on the list for the Finals that are going to be in Columbus because they haven't been bucked in a while - a month or three weeks - and [their owners] wanted to get one more trip."
Lambert said that the decision to buck or not to buck a Finals-bound bull is up to the contractor.
Other potential Finals bulls are in the event because their owners want Lambert to see them one more time as they try to make the draw for the PBR's premiere event.
Surprisingly, both The Situation and Yellow Jacket Jr. are on the bubble. Both have been short-round bulls, and this week both Chad Berger-owned bulls will be in the long round.
Lambert said that Yellow Jacket Jr. has always gone out a fair distance before turning back into a spin, but in past years, he'd still be bucking hard.
"This year, and especially late summer, he got where he was going too far before he turned back," Lambert said. "Mike Lee actually rode him and got a re-ride on him because he had gone so far before he turned back and started spinning.
"The judges didn't score him high enough for him to be a bull that he would have a chance to win anything on."
Lambert said that at the Thomas & Mack Center at the Finals, the arena is split in two, and the bull would likely get to the back fence. He added that if it takes a fence to turn him back, he's not good enough to compete at the Finals.
"He certainly bucks hard enough," Lambert said, "but he's going to have to shorten up his trip."
As for The Situation, Lambert said as recently as two months ago he would have listed him as an automatic qualifier for the Finals.
However, his past two outings have been below par, and on one of those trips, he slipped and fell down. On the other trip, he didn't have the speed and the snap he normally displays.
"He had the same pattern," Lambert said, "but it was a slow version of the same pattern."
The Situation is a younger bull, and Long said it's not uncommon for a less-experienced bull to taper off toward the end of a long season. Lambert added that The Situation has been bucked often for a bull his age.
Berger decided to take the bulls back home to North Dakota to rest after they'd been on the Touring Pro Division all summer.
He and Lambert will be looking this weekend to see if they're "freshed up like they should be."
Lambert and Long's entire conversation can be heard here.
-by Keith Ryan Cartwright
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