PUEBLO, Colo. – At the end of February, the Top 35 bull riders, as well as five BlueDEF Velocity Tour winners, will head to Arlington, Texas, for their shot at winning a share of $250,000 at Iron Cowboy.
With a new format and an increased purse, Iron Cowboy VI will be unlike any of the previous five Iron Cowboys, and this year riders will have to ride for 8 seconds if they hope to move on to the next round and earn a significant paycheck.
There are three weeks remaining for Built Ford Tough Series, BlueDEF Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division riders to make one final push to crack the Top 35 of the world standings and earn a bid toward Iron Cowboy.
Tyler Harr, who is currently tied for 27th in the world standings, Lachlan Richardson (31) and Stetson Lawrence (33) are just three of the riders trying to scratch and claw their way to stay within the Top 35 and compete at Iron Cowboy, which will be the first event where the BFTS draw is based on the 2015 world standings.
“I plan on being there,” Harr said. “There is some shuffling that can happen, but I want to be there, for sure. It is one of the bigger events of the year and that is really where I need to be.”
If he qualifies, it would be Lawrence’s first trip to Iron Cowboy.
“It is one of those things you can’t even wrap your head around right now,” Lawrence said. “I just try to keep it simple and ride bulls and not worry about that.”
Richardson added, “I went to the Iron Cowboy last year and it just pumps you up getting on rank bulls like you do every week. It will get you going.”
All three riders may be on the fringes of qualifying this year, however, they recently found out that they were three of the five wild card qualifiers for THE AMERICAN, the largest single-day cash prize rodeo in history, which takes place at AT&T Stadium the day after Iron Cowboy.
They, along with Ben Jones and Jason Malone, all paid a $350 entry fee during the summer that allowed all of the points they earned at BlueDEF Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division events to count toward qualifying for THE AMERICAN.
More importantly, they – as well as the winner of THE AMERICAN SEMIFINALS in Fort Worth, Texas, on Feb. 20-22 — are all eligible to win a share of the $1 million bonus offered to any qualifier who potentially wins one of the seven rodeo events – bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, team roping, tie-down roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling and bull riding.
Richard Champion, who was at the Built Ford Tough Series event in Oklahoma City in January, won the $1 million bonus last year by being the only qualifier to win his respective event (bareback riding).
Harr, Lawrence, Richardson, Jones and Malone will have to outride the Top 10 riders from the 2014 PBR world standings – Silvano Alves, Joao Ricardo Vieira, Matt Triplett, J.B. Mauney, Fabiano Vieira, Eduardo Aparecido, Mike Lee, Guilherme Marchi, J.W. Harris and Cody Nance – who are also competing, but are ineligible to win the $1 million bonus.
“I am really excited,” Harr said. “Oh yeah, every bull I am getting on, I am riding for a $1 million.”
Richardson added, “It definitely can change someone else’s life around. I can just do my best and hopefully it is me.”
The 22-year-old from Gresford, Australia, wasn’t sure if he would end up qualifying after he paid the entry fee last summer because he knew he would be going home for part of the break, as well as in December.
“I wasn’t quite sure how it would go because I was going back to Australia, but I got the call and I was happy,” he said.
He wound up being the final qualifier in fifth place, edging Budd Williamson by only 7.5 points.
Lawrence waited until two weeks after entries opened on July 1 to finally pay the entry fee.
It was a decision that eventually paid off.
“It is nice to have a chance to ride for a million,” he said. “It is life changing if it happens.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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