By: Justin Felisko
July 30, 2016
BIG SKY, Mont. – Chad Berger knows Asteroid needs to prove he still has what it takes if he hopes to see his bull make it into the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals as a World Champion Bull contender.
Berger is gaining confidence in Asteroid, especially after the 2012 World Champion bull demolished Jess Lockwood in 1.78 seconds for a 46.5-point bull score at the 16th annual Dakota Community Bank and Trust BlueDEF Tour event in Bismarck, North Dakota, last month.
It was Asteroid’s seventh buckoff at all levels of competition this season and he has still only been ridden just four times in 74 career outs at all levels.
However, it was only the third out this season that Asteroid was marked 45 points or higher, which Berger is also well aware of.
“He has been sitting at home and he looks awful good,” Berger said. “I figured we should get one more out on him before Nashville. I just wanted to get a look at him here and see how he does.”
So was Bismarck a sign of things to come from Asteroid? Or was it a one-time passing of Asteroid’s past in the sky?
“It is no secret Jessie is hard to buck off,” Berger said. “You know. You can go back to a lot of his old videos and you can compare it to him being on his game.”
Fans can watch the final night of competition on Saturday night exclusively on PBR LIVE beginning at 8: 50 p.m. ET. Asteroid will buck during the championship round.
Asteroid is only averaging 43.67 points per out in six BFTS outs this season. That average bull score is not going to be enough to get him to the Finals as a World Champion Bull contender.
Therefore, Berger is setting his sights on trying to earn one of two potential Wild Card berths courtesy of the PBR’s Executive Competition Committee.
It is why Saturday night’s out could actually be extremely valuable in regards to this year’s World Champion Bull race. Yes, the out won’t count toward his BFTS statistics, but a strong performance can potentially serve as evidence that Asteroid may indeed deserve consideration.
“I think he does,” Berger replied when asked if Asteroid still has anything left in the tank. “We will get videos of him here and if he is as good as he was in Bismarck then I will send them off to Cody and see what he thinks.
“If that bull can continue to buck like he did in Bismarck, he can be in the hunt for one of them bulls for Bull of the Year.”
Nathan Schaper heads into Saturday leading the event after winning Round 1 with a 90-point ride on Pistol Whip.
“They said he was going to be a good bull, but I never had been on anything that bucked like that,” Schaper said. “It felt wild blowing up. I just had to sit there. He was doing all of the work blowing up underneath me. I haven’t been on many bulls that have that kind of action.”
Schaper said he has been watching Asteroid for years now and has always felt he could give the champion bovine a solid test.
“I have watched that bull a lot,” Schaper said. “I like my odds on him. I guess you have to like your odds on any bull, but I have a lot of arm to give him. I am taller and he really kicks and is steep. I think I would like to get along with him.”
Schaper dislocated his finger attempting to ride Cowtown Slinger during a $2,000 bonus round Friday. Cowtown Slinger was marked 46.5 points for a 6.4-second buckoff.
The Grassy Butte, North Dakota, bull rider believes he will be fine for Round 2.
Luis Blanco finished second in Round 1 with 89.5 points on Shepherd Hills Trapper.
Cooper Davis posted two 90-point rides on Berger bulls this year – 92.5 points on Beaver Creek Beau and 91.5 points on Crossfire – and nearly got another on Friday night. Davis finished Round 1 in third place following his 89-point ride on Say I Won’t Playboy.
Davis was in Bismarck when Asteroid destroyed Lockwood and the out left Davis impressed.
Still, he would also like a shot at Asteroid on Saturday night.
“Yeah I would,” Davis said. With Jess the other day, I thought the old Asteroid was back. He sure fired on full cylinders. You dang sure can’t stomp your toe on him. If he has the same trip that he had with Jess, I will be ready.”
Berger said he wouldn’t mind seeing Chase Outlaw get a rematch against Asteroid. Outlaw was bucked off by Big Sky in 7.99 seconds on Friday night, but he has a long history with Berger’s bull.
Outlaw has been bucked off four times by Asteroid, who averages 46.44 points per out against Outlaw.
“I would like to see a guy that can give him a fair chance,” Berger said. “I would like to see Chase Outlaw – a guy like that. He is going to try his heart out and will give him a true test and we will see where Asteroid is at.”
What Berger really may need though is for Asteroid to be the one trying his heart out if he hopes to see Asteroid potentially win a second World Championship later this year.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2016 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.