GLENDALE, Ariz. – In their best showings to date, SweetPro’s Bruiser and Pearl Harbor stole the show during the 15/15 Bucking Battle at the Ak-Chin Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, on Friday night in terms of bull power and explosion.
The two frontrunners for the 2018 World Champion Bull title proved that it is going to take another special bull to join them atop of the standings after the two bovine superstars eclipsed the 47-point threshold in the same weekend for the first time with career-best performances.
First, it was the reigning two-time World Champion Bull setting the thunderous tone with his second consecutive 47-point outing in as many weeks.
The 7-year-old bull busted out of the bucking chutes toward the left with Ryan Dirteater, continuing to gain steam, strength and determination all the way until 6.67 seconds when Dirteater simply ran out of his own determination and effort.
“I thought he was special last week, and I really thought he was special this week,” stock contractor Dillon Page said.
One week after being marked a career-high 47.25 points for 4.71 seconds of work with Brennon Eldred, Bruiser found another level with Dirteater on Friday.
It also appeared as if Dirteater, who had previously ridden Bruiser for 93.25 points earlier this season, was on his way to a memorable, high-scoring ride until Bruiser dislodged him with less than 2 seconds to go.
“I thought he gave it his all,” Page said. “I actually thought Ryan Dirteater was going to ride him. He didn’t quit. The bull kept bucking harder. Ryan just kept making another move and just going at it. I thought this was going to be something special here, but he got him at the end.”
It was an impressive effort from Dirteater after the No. 10 rider in the world sustained a likely torn meniscus during his Round 1 attempt aboard Acting Crazy.
Dirteater said on Saturday morning that he is likely not getting on during Round 2 at Gila River Arena and will undergo an MRI this week to determine the severity of the injury.
Cody Nance also nearly made a memorable ride aboard Pearl Harbor.
That was until Chad Berger’s bovine athlete used his brute strength to knock Nance off at 5.94 seconds. Nance was able to get past a massive jump from Pearl Harbor when the 6-year-old bull turned back, but eventually Pearl Harbor’s strength got the best of Nance.
Pearl Harbor tied a career-high by being scored 47.25 points, and it was huge rebound performance for the black and white bull.
Last week in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Pearl Harbor had hipped himself leaving the bucking chutes with Cody Teel.
Berger would have liked to have seen Pearl Harbor be the top-marked bull of the weekend, but he was still pleased to have his bull make a clean departure leaving the chutes.
“Just the way he blew out of there and kicked and come around to the left,” Berger said. “He blew ahead and come back around the right,” Berger said. “It would take a hell of a hand to get by him when he bucks like that. I was just real impressed with his power, his change of direction. Everything.”
Beyond their close bull scores, there was another similarity for Pearl Harbor and Bruiser on Friday night.
Each bull had drawn a rider with a no-quit attitude that gave each bull a strong test.
Berger and Page felt Nance and Dirteater helped their respective bulls.
“I am always for the bull, but I still like the guys too,” Page said. “I think it is the best thing ever when they can be 94-95. I am still looking for the highest score.”
Berger added, “It really did. (Nance) gritted it out and rode him about as long as anybody does or a little bit longer. He has been the hardest guy to buck off on the tour.”
Pearl Harbor is 8-0 this season and is just a hair behind Bruiser in the World Champion Bull standings with a World Champion Bull average – a bull’s top 8 eights – of 45.69 points.
Bruiser has now bucked off five consecutive riders since Nance rode him for 88.75 points in Anaheim, California.
The No. 1 bull in the world has a World Champion Bull average of 45.97 points.
There is a little more than a quarter of a point difference between Bruiser and Pearl Harbor.
“I thought it was pretty close between them two bulls,” Berger said. “It could have went either way. Hats off to Bruiser. He is a dang good bull and awfully showy.”
SPOTTED DEMON ALSO IMPRESSIVES
Not to be lost in the shuffle between Bruiser and Pearl Harbor is Spotted Demon posting his second 46-point score of the season.
The 10-year-old bull of Julio Moreno’s bucked off Jose Vitor Leme in 5.99 seconds for 46 points to move to No. 3 in the World Champion Bull race.
Spotted Demon needs four more outs to qualify for the championship, but his average is only .72 points behind Bruiser.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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