TACOMA, Wash. – The Tacoma Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, may end up looking like they only invited Chad Berger. Berger has 49 of the 97 bulls that will go this weekend. The riders should have a good week here as well. There are a lot of matchups in the first round that look like they could go the rider’s way, and the 15/15 Bucking Battle round will be one of the most rider-friendly ones so far this year.
The key situation to watch in the long rounds here is that while there are a lot of rideable bulls, there aren’t that many who are sure to produce an 87-point or higher score. There should be a logjam at 85-86 points, and whoever has enough bull to get them past that will be in good shape.
Round 1 Matchups:
Brennon Eldred on W56 Whiskey Bent:
Gage Gay rode this bull at Last Cowboy Standing in Las Vegas last year for 87.5 points, and Whiskey Bent was exactly the kind of bull every rider wants to have. Since then we haven’t seen that much of the bull, but if he’s the same bull we saw with Gay a year ago, Eldred should be able to handle him. Look for this bull to go to the left with a lot of intensity, but he’s not a particularly powerful bull as long as the rider stays in time with him.
Cody Campbell on 976 Slick Rick:
When Chase Outlaw bucked off Slick Rick at the 7.92 second mark in Billings, Montana, a couple of weeks ago, it broke a streak where this bull had been ridden ten times in a row at PBR events. On top of that, Rick is 6-11 in his career against right-handed riders. Campbell should have an easy time here, but may not be able to come away with a round-winning score.
Dakota Buttar on 09 Legal Tender:
This isn’t the best draw in the round because he can be more challenging to ride than his scores indicate, but he is ridden in roughly half his outs. Legal Tender has a lot of backup when he spins, and he wants the rider down on his head. This is usually good for the rider because the bull does some of the work for him, but in the modern era, riders seem to have more trouble with this kind of bull than they did in times past. Buttar should have a slight edge in this matchup, but his riding style is very similar to J.W. Harris. He’s very good at keeping his weight forward right to the tipping point, which is effective on most bulls. This one will try to exploit that.
Cody Nance on 55Y Shake it Up:
Nance went 2-for-2 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last night and he’ll travel a long ways to face a good draw tonight. Shake it Up has been ridden four times in eight Built Ford Tough Series outs, and he’s weaker against left-handed riders. We haven’t seen him on tour since Chicago back in January where Brady Sims scored 85.75 point on him.
J.B. Mauney on L10 Like a Boss:
Mauney has a good bull here, especially for this round. Like a Boss is one of the prettier bulls you will see this weekend, and he should go to the right, but that shouldn’t give Mauney trouble. The biggest problem for Mauney is that Like a Boss usually isn’t good enough to get the rider over the 87-point mark. He can be though, and if he has a good day here, Mauney could make him look good, and could squeeze a round win out of a bull that normally isn’t up to it.
Claudio Montanha Jr. on 89 Lip Trick:
Montanha should have an easy time here. Lip Trick is 1-4 against right-handed riders, and he’s usually good for 85-86.5 points. Like a lot of other matchups in this round, there’s no clear indication that Montanha will be able to get over 87 points out of this bull, and it will take 87 or more to win the round.
Robson Aragao on 00 Grave Digger:
Grave Digger may be the easiest to ride bull going to PBR events right now. He’s given up 11 rides in 16 PBR outs. As you would expect, he has great timing, not much power, and no tricky business. He has some speed, and a flashy style, and he’s definitely the best draw in this round. Most guys are just under 87 points on him, but Aragao may not get to 86 here. He’s a bigger rider with a dominating style, and doesn’t always get the best possible scores out of bulls compared to smaller riders like Gage Gay and Chase Outlaw.
Chase Outlaw on 1095 Cowboy Phil:
Outlaw has a chance to score 87 or 88 points here, but he needs a little luck. Cowboy Phil is seldom ridden by left-handed riders. Mauney is the only guy who has done it. There’s nothing particularly difficult about the bull, but he does go to the right, and he really never lets up once he gets into the spin. Outlaw will need to get started in the right position, because this bull won’t give him a window to catch up if he gets behind.
15/15 Bucking Battle Matchups:
Cody Nance on 806 Speed Demon:
Speed Demon is a perfect 4-0 against left-handed riders. He’s not the hardest bull to ride in this round, and this isn’t the worst matchup for a qualified ride either, but it will be hard for Nance to win this one. This is a smaller bull with a lot of action, and a lot of erratic movement. He should remind you a little of Gene Owen’s Wicked - a PBR veteran bull who often looks impossible to ride because of his speed and unpredictable nature, but isn’t.
Stormy Wing on 001 Smooth Operator:
Smooth Operator is 20-0 against left-handed riders in his career, and the only way that trend will change is if the bull decides to have mercy on them one day. He’s almost a machine perfectly designed to put lefties on the ground, and the rider’s best hope is that he gets rusty. Wing is a capable rider, but he’s a big underdog here.
Marco Eguchi on 323 Biker Bob:
Biker Bob hasn’t allowed a qualified ride by a right-handed rider yet. He goes to the left, and really stretches out and generates a lot of centrifugal force. Eguchi does have a chance here, but he’s up against the same difficulty Chase Outlaw will face in Round 1. This bull will pressure him more with the spin than with up and down movement.
Cody Teel on 027 Kookaburra:
Teel definitely has a chance to get a good score on this bull. Kookaburra is 7-4 against right-handed riders, but he’s got a trick that Teel will have to deal with. He should spin to the right, but at some point he will take a big leap forward and go back to the left, and that is hard to deal with. A couple of the qualified rides that have been made on him would not have been qualified rides had he pulled the reverse half a second earlier.
Joao Ricardo Vieira on -904 Fire & Smoke:
Fire & Smoke gives a lot of riders trouble, but not Vieira who is 2-for-2 on him. They paired up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, last month for 89.5 points in the championship round. Vieira should be confident on this bull, and this should be as safe a bet for a qualified ride in a 15/15 Bucking Battle as you will ever see.
Shane Proctor on 1149 Pearl Harbor:
Pearl Harbor put up 47.5 points in Billings, and at this point in his career there is really no answer as to how to ride him other than just be a hero. This puts Proctor in a decent position, though, because some of the best rides in history came about from the rider being put in a situation where he has nothing to lose.
Rubens Barbosa on 1212 Gambini:
Gambini is 5-0 at the BFTS level, but Neil Holmes rode him at the Velocity Tour Finals last fall. This won’t be the most difficult bull in the round, but Barbosa has just one qualified ride in the last five BFTS events.
Matt Triplett on 219 Tractor Tippin’:
This could turn out to be the round win. Tractor Tippin’ is arguably the best draw in this round for a right-handed rider. Mason Lowe scored 90.5 points on him in Glendale, Arizona, last month, and Triplett typically gets good scores out of bulls.
Cooper Davis on X9 Midnight Moon:
This is the least known bull in this round. He’s been ridden once in eight career outs. He’s originally a Canadian bull, but moved to the United States about a year ago. He tends to go to the right, and he can have a lot up and down and a lot of kick. Davis is solid against every kind of bull and certainly has a shot here.
Derek Kolbaba on 223 BC Circular Insanity:
This is one of the best draws in the round for a left-handed rider. He likes the left, but has a tendency to want to reverse the spin at some point, and that is where he gets most riders. He’s only been ridden three times in 24 career outs, so this is far from a sure thing for Kolbaba, but a great opportunity nonetheless.
Chase Outlaw on E5 Big Black Cat:
This is a rematch from Sacramento, California, early this year where Outlaw scored 87 points on Big Cat. This is the single best draw in a round where qualified rides are hard to get. The only down side to him is that if they ride several other bulls he can’t outscore them.
Jess Lockwood on 02 Beaver Creek Beau:
Lockwood is in the same boat as Stormy Wing in this round. Next to Smooth Operator, Beau is probably the second hardest bull for a lefty to face. Both bulls have been around a long time, and are slightly past their prime, but Beau is 35-1 against lefties, and the one came way back in 2013 when he was just three years old. Beau has been one of the more interesting bulls throughout his career because his speed makes him difficult to ride, or more accurately, his lack of speed. He’s incredibly strong and slower than the average bull, and guys have always struggled with that combination.
J.B. Mauney on 35 Spotted Demon:
This isn’t the best bull Mauney could have drawn here, because he’s a difficult bull that will go to the right. The upside for Mauney is that he will face a similar bull in Round 1 for a warm up. Spotted Demon has a little down and typically keeps working on a rider until he gets them down on his head.
Kaique Pacheco on 781 Asteroid:
Since Chad Berger bought Asteroid and brought him out of early retirement, he hasn’t been the same high scoring bull he was before, but he hasn’t gotten any easier to ride either. He’s 16-0 over the past two seasons. Asteroid was a World Champion in 2012 and a worthy adversary to Bushwacker because of his sky high leaps that earned him huge bull scores. But he’s always been difficult to ride because he’s a short-bodied bull who can kick near vertical and that is hard to handle for riders. Pacheco has an uphill battle here, or more accurately - a downhill one.
Eduardo Aparecido on 247 Red Bandana:
This is a great draw for world No. 1 Aparecido because this bull is one of the better to ride bulls in the round. He also goes to the right - into Aparecido’s hand. A qualified ride here will make it hard for other riders to gain any ground on him in the world championship race.
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