PUEBLO, Colo. – Current world No. 1 bull Pearl Harbor is ready to get back to making cowboys’ lives miserable following a month-long hiatus from the Built Ford Tough Series.
Reigning Stock Contractor of the Year Chad Berger confirmed this week that Pearl Harbor will be bucking at this weekend’s Ty Murray Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after being held out of competition after a crack in his right hoof became infected.
“I looked at him on Sunday when I got back from Little Rock. He is moving like a cat and looks ready to go,” Berger said. “He looks good. He is moving good. He doesn’t favor it at all.”
Pearl Harbor currently leads the PBR with the three highest bull scores – 46.5 points, 46.25 points and 46.25 points – of the year and a 46.06-point average in four outs.
The 5-year-old has bucked off 11 riders in a row since two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney rode him for 94.25 points last year in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Pearl Harbor has been perfect this season (4-0).
Two of Pearl Harbor’s four buckoffs were of No. 3 bull rider Rubens Barbosa, while he also bucked off Mauney (46.5 points) and perennial contender Joao Ricardo Vieira (45.25 points).
Berger first had a cause of concern for Pearl Harbor on Feb. 17 when Joey Hales called Berger to let him know Pearl Harbor was favoring his back leg.
The Mandan, North Dakota, stock contractor immediately pulled Pearl Harbor out of the Iron Cowboy and sent him to be looked at by veterinarian Dr. Gary Warner.
Berger originally thought maybe Pearl Harbor had sustained a slight hairline fracture before learning that instead Pearl Harbor had an infection.
“It was in his hoof,” Berger said. “He had a crack in his hoof and he got an infection.”
Pearl Harbor remained with Dr. Warner for a little over two weeks before returning to Berger’s Henrietta, Oklahoma, ranch.
“He cleaned that hoof out and got the infection out of it,” Berger said. “They then packed it and wrapped it several times. I have had it in several bulls over the years. It can happen.”
Berger doesn’t expect Pearl Harbor to have a set back from the injury.
“We got it before it got pretty bad,” Berger said. “He had such a slight limp when we took him there. If it was any other bull, I probably would have bucked him at Iron Cowboy, but he isn’t any other bull.”
Berger purchased the second ranch in the fall of 2015. Having a secondary ranch has been extremely helpful for a variety reasons for Berger.
“Oh definitely,” Berger said. “That is a big plus for us. In so many ways. Just on the location of I-40. Being on soft ground. Being close to many more veterinarians that are used to working on bulls. We don’t have as many up here (in North Dakota) that are as knowledgeable on bucking bulls as they are down there.”
Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray said he takes pride in his event featuring some of the rankest bulls PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert can organize and it wouldn’t be the same without Pearl Harbor.
“That is huge,” Murray said. “The Albuquerque fans are very knowledgeable bull riding fans. They know all about Pearl Harbor and want to see him. I do too. So far he looks like he is not in the conversation, but probably leading the conversation.”
Other top bulls expected to compete include 2016 World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser, TLW’s Big Cat, Smooth Operator, Stone Sober, Seven Dust, Hey Jack, Cochise, Mystical and 2012 World Champion Asteroid.
Bruiser has started to come into World Championship form again with back-to-back 46-point outs in his last two appearances while Pearl Harbor was on the sidelines.
Berger believes, for the time being, Bruiser is Pearl Harbor’s stiffest competition.
“Without a doubt, he is the one that is the closest to Pearl Harbor right now,” Berger said.
Berger said the target for him is to get Pearl Harbor 10-12 outs before the 2017 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Pearl Harbor would then take his best eight bull scores into the Finals, where he would look to win Berger a prestigious World Championship.
“I sure would like to have had him there in Little Rock and compete against the best ones,” Berger said. “From the time I started this thing, I was in it for the long haul. I am not in it for one minute of glory and move on. I need to do what is in the best interest of the bull. In one sense, yeah I wish he was in Little Rock last weekend, but I know in the long run he will be better off.
“You have to live with that stuff.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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