KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kenny McElroy leaned over a garbage can inside the Fort Worth Stockyards last month and let all of the anxiety, nerves and anticipation leave in his body in one strong hurl.
McElroy hadn’t been this nervous since 2010 when he brought bulls to the PBR World Finals for the first time.
The Ohio stock contractor looked across the way to see this 5-year-old, white bull of his waiting for his name to be called.
McElroy had just picked up Old Fort Days from Sammy Andrews a few days earlier after winning a push among a series of stock contractors to acquire the talented bovine athlete during the 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Now it was up to McElroy to see if Old Fort Days would buck just as good as he did in Las Vegas now that he was under a new tutelage.
McElroy was able to breathe a little easier after the small and feisty bovine athlete bucked off Lane Brennan (1.86 seconds) and Kurt Shephard (3.03 seconds) at the Touring Pro Division event to win the ABBI’s Maturity competition that weekend.
Old Fort Days was marked 44.5 points for each out.
“It was like the first time I was at the Finals,” McElroy said. “I was throwing up in a garbage can. I was a nervous wreck. It was terrible. I legit threw up. I thought, ‘If I bought this bull and he doesn’t pan out, my wife is going to let me have it.’”
Making the decision to pursue Old Fort Days was actually a family affair for K-Bar-C Bucking Bulls.
Kenny and his wife, Christy, had just gotten back from doing some shopping at Cowboy Christmas during the NFR the same day in which Old Fort Days was scheduled to buck.
The couple’s daughter, Josie, and son, Zachary, was watching the NFR later that night when they saw Old Fort Days buck off Tim Bingham in 4.2 seconds for a 47.5-point bull score.
Josie paused the family’s TV and hollered at Kenny to get out of the shower and take a look at this bull.
“I said, ‘Holy crap. Who’s bull is that?” Kenny recalled.
The next morning McElroy decided to call Andrews and see if he would be interested in selling the bull. At first, Andrews had no intention of selling, but 10 minutes later Kenny received a call back from Andrews saying he was interested in talking.
“He told me what he wanted for him and I said, ‘Sold,’” McElroy said. “I called my insurance and got him insured and he really bucked the second night. I thought, ‘Whoa, we hit a lick with this one.’”
Old Fort Days second out at the NFR was impressive too as he bucked off Brennon Eldred in 2.2 seconds for a 45-point score.
“I thought his first out at the Finals was really good, but his second out with Brennon Eldred. When you can whoop Brennon down over the head that is a real deal.”
Old Fort Days’ performance at the NFR certainly caught the eye of PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert.
The PBR co-founder said that Old Fort Days gave 2017 NFR Bull of the Finals and two-time PBR World Champion SweetPro’s Bruiser a run for his money in Las Vegas.
Lambert is now looking forward to see what Old Fort Days can do in the PBR with McElroy taking him up and down the road.
Old Fort Days will be making his debut this weekend in the championship round of the Caterpillar Classic on Sunday afternoon inside Sprint Center.
“That is where he will belong,” Lambert said. “He had to have some good days during the year to make it to the NFR. I didn’t know about him until the NFR, but I got my eye on him now. I have high expectations for him, but we will find out. He looked really good at the NFR and that is all I know about him.”
Old Fort Days is a Pistol Arrow son, and McElroy compared Old Fort Days to his former top bovine athlete Who Dey.
Like Who Dey, Old Fort Days isn’t the biggest of the bulls slated to compete in the championship round. However, Old Fort Days makes up for his lack of size with impressive speed and athleticism.
He is 8-0 at all levels of competition, but he will now start facing the best bull riders in the world.
“Old Fort days is not a big, great bull, but he is little and waspy,” McElroy said. “He is fast. He has got that kick.”
Multiple other stock contractors had hoped to purchase Old Fort Days during the NFR, including CBS Sports and RidePass analyst J.W. Hart.
Hart had made some phone calls to people he trusted about Old Fort Day’s lack of size. There was some concern that maybe Old Fort Days won’t be big enough to compete consistently as a 15/15 Bucking Battle and championship-round bull.
“I am like holy shit did you see him buck?” Hart said. “They don’t have to be real big when they buck that hard. Moody Blues. Blueberry Wine. Panhandle Slim. They were all pretty little bulls that bucked really hard. They got a point, but if he is in fact that little he has his worked cut out to beat those big stout bulls and now he has to stand up against now the best guys in the world when he shows up.”
The jury is still out on whether or not Old Fort Days can enter the realm of Pearl Harbor and SweetPro’s Bruiser, but there is anticipation to see what he will do.
“The cream rises to the top and we know what sinks to the bottom,” Hart said. “The bull is going to have a little bit of an awakening. When they figure him out. They figure them all out. They are going to ride them all. We will see how he takes to it.”
So should we bring another garbage can for McElroy on Sunday in Kansas City?
“I don’t think I am so nervous on him because I think when I picked him up and I hauled him right there to Fort Worth. I never flanked him. Never handled him. Zero,” McElroy said. “The way he handled and the way he took to me and then performed the way he did down there. I feel 10 times better.”
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