BILLINGS, Mont. – With Guilherme Marchi knocking on the door of history this weekend, it is almost too fitting for the 2008 World Champion to reach the 600-ride mark during the Stanley Performance In Action Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires.
Billings, Montana, is the longest-running Built Ford Tough Series event, and the Magic City is set to host the PBR’s top-tour for a 22nd consecutive year beginning on Friday night at Rimrock Auto Arena.
Just last year, 2004 World Champion Mike Lee made history inside Rimrock Auto Arena by riding Tahonta’s Magic for 86.75 points and his 500th career ride on the Built Ford Tough Series.
Lee and Marchi are the only two riders in the PBR’s 24-year history to reach that historic mark.
Marchi – the PBR’s all-time qualified rides leader with 598 – now can possibly treat the Billings faithful to another historical moment for the second consecutive year as early as Saturday night.
“This is something most people don’t understand because it is a lot of bulls,” Lee said. “Billings is where I was born. It is Big Sky country. It is pretty.”
Does Lee, who has 519 qualified rides, have plans on reaching 600 qualified rides at some point in his career?
“Of course,” he replied.
Marchi will attempt a minimum of three bulls this weekend, not including a possible fourth if he were to qualify for the Built Ford Tough Championship Round on Sunday afternoon.
He very much can leave Billings as the first rider to reach 600 qualified rides.
The 34-year-old also hopes he can actually celebrate immediately after the ride compared to when he rode Pandora’s Pyxis (84 points) for career ride No. 500 three years ago.
“It wasn’t a good ride,” Marchi, laughing, said. “I remember he stepped on me. I was like, ‘Geez, I should be celebrating and I could barely walk. I hope when 600 comes, I can celebrate with my buddies. It is a lot of bulls. You have to get on a lot of bulls to ride 600.
“I am tired just thinking about it.”
Marchi is set to take on Embers (0-0, BFTS) in Round 1 and Shocker (4-0, BFTS) in Round 2.
Shocker actually bucked off Lee last weekend in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 4.88 seconds.
Marchi enters this weekend’s event 20th in the world standings. Marchi picked up career ride 598 in Sioux Falls, where he went 1-for-4.
The 14-year veteran is 29-for-46 (63.04 percent) in his career in Billings, Montana, and won the 2012 15/15 Bucking Battle with a 90-point ride on Pandemic.
Lee and Marchi are the two longest-tenured riders on the Built Ford Tough Series.
Lee debuted in 2002 and is on pace to qualify for a PBR-record 16th World Finals, while Marchi rode for the first time at the BFTS level in 2004 and is likely going to make his 14th consecutive appearance at the World Finals this coming November in Las Vegas.
Marchi, the cover boy of the April edition of Men’s Fitness, is riding 43.59 percent (17-for-39) of his bulls this year.
A great comparison of how special the 600-ride mark is by looking at the current Top 10 of the world standings.
If you add up the career rides of Eduardo Aparecido, Jess Lockwood, Chase Outlaw, Derek Kolbaba, Kaique Pacheco, Cooper Davis, Rubens Barbosa, Mason Lowe, Matt Triplett and Joao Ricardo Vieira, you only would have 922 qualified rides.
Only four of those riders have even surpassed 100 qualified rides in their career – Aparecido (167), Outlaw (104), Pacheco (109) and Vieira (177).
Lost in the shuffle of Marchi’s pursuit of 600 is the fact that two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney is closing in on his 500th career ride on the Built Ford Tough Series.
Mauney has 492 career rides heading into his Round 1 matchup against Tequila Sunrise (12-6, BFTS).
“I don’t look at that. Hell, I look at the end of the weekend which one says first,” Mauney said.
Regardless, the 30-year-old did called Marchi’s future achievement something special.
“It is a big milestone,” Mauney said. “Nobody has ever been close to that. To ride 600 bulls in your career, you are doing pretty good because these aren’t the easiest bulls in the world. These aren’t just good ones. These are ranks ones week in and week out.”
Top 10 rides in Billings PBR History
Cory McFadden – 95.5 points on Little Yellow Jacket (2002)
Wiley Petersen – 94 points on Little Yellow Jacket (2003)
Cody Hart – 94 points on Yellow Jacket (1999)
Travis Briscoe – 93.25 points on Paycheck (2010)
Justin McBride – 93 points on Palace Station Deuces Wild (2005)
Chris Shivers – 93 points on Crankshaft (2003)
Aaron Semas – 93 points on Panama Red (2001)
Tony Mendes – 92 points on Reggae Cowboy (2002)
Cory Turnbow – 92 points on DeWalt Challenge (2000)
Renato Nunes – 91.75 points on Chicken on a Chain (2010)
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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