By: Justin Felisko
June 07, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – For the last 15 years, reigning Stock Contractor of the Year Chad Berger has always bucked his most talented bulls in his hometown event in Bismarck, North Dakota, and this year will be no different.
Berger announced on Tuesday morning he will be bucking 2012 World Champion Bull Asteroid at the 16th annual Dakota Community Bank & Trust BlueDEF Tour event on June 18.
There is one catch.
A rider will have to earn the opportunity to get on Asteroid.
Berger decided this year to allow the rider who wins the most amount of money during his two bull riding events on June 17-18 to attempt Asteroid for an additional $10,000 dollars.
“It is two separate bull ridings with $20,000 added each day,” Berger said while at a cattle auction. “This year the guy will win a gold-plated rifle, plus he is going to get a chance at another $10,000 on Asteroid.”
Both nights will be streamed exclusively on PBR LIVE.
The two BlueDEF Tour events in Bismarck each have $20,000 added and will offer two separate Built Ford Tough Series exemptions for Springfield, Missouri, to the winners.
More importantly, it is the opportunity to attempt to ride one of the legendary bulls in the PBR before his career is over.
Asteroid is 54-4 on the BFTS and 6-0 since Berger purchased the bovine athlete and brought him out of retirement in February.
The only four riders to ever record a qualified ride on Asteroid are Elton Cide(76 points), Fabiano Vieira (87 points), J.B. Mauney (93.5 points) and Silvano Alves (87.25 points).
“It makes them ride better,” Berger said. “Who wouldn’t want to get on Asteroid? He isn’t going to be around forever. Who wouldn’t want to get on him to try and win an extra $10,000? I think they will ride better to get to that point. It is just going to make my bull riding better by doing it.”
There will be no shortage of riding talent in Bismarck either, with 18 riders ranked inside the Top 35 of the world standings tentatively expected to compete in two weeks at the Bismarck Civic Center.
Top-10 riders Joao Ricardo Vieira, who is currently recovering from a hyper-extended riding elbow, Cooper Davis and Wallace de Oliveira highlight the top riders heading to Bismarck.
“There isn’t a guy on there you don’t know other than a couple of the open guys they put in randomly,” Berger said. “Otherwise, you will know everybody on the (draw). They are on the Built Ford (Tough Series) or have been on the Built Ford.”
It is no secret that Asteroid hasn’t been as strong as he once was during the prime of his career. He has only been marked 45 points or higher in two outs this season and has an average bull score of 43.67 points per out.
That would currently leave Asteroid outside of the World Champion Bull race, but he still hasn’t been easy to ride in the arena.
Robson Palermo nearly rode Asteroid in Phoenix before bucking off at 7.25 seconds, but that was the one and only time Berger tried switching Asteroid to a right-handed delivery.
Other than Palermo, Asteroid’s five other buckoffs all came before 4 seconds.
Asteroid last bucked at Last Cowboy Standing and eliminated Eduardo Aparecido, the sixth-ranked bull rider in the world, in only 3.93 seconds. It was the third-best out for Asteroid this season as he was marked 44.25 points under the Las Vegas skyline.
“He looks really good,” Berger said this week. “I weighed him the other day and he weighs 1,585 pounds. I didn’t realize he got that big on me. I weighed him and Beaver Creek Beau this past Saturday. Beaver Creek Beau weighed 2,000 pounds on the nose and he weighed 1,585.”
Asteroid has never competed in North Dakota.
Beaver Creek Beau will be competing in the 15-man championship round, as well as other Berger stout bovines Crossfire, Modified Clyde, Cooper Tires Brown Sugar and Boot Jack.
Crossfire is averaging 44.41 points in 12 outs this season and is right in the thick of the World Champion Bull qualifying race, while Beaver Creek Beau is trying to sneak into the race with a 43.75-point average bull score in 12 outs.
Crossfire’s average score based upon his eight best outs is 44.78 and Beaver Creek Beau is at 44.16.
At the end of the regular season, the top seven bulls based on the sum of their best eight outs will qualify as World Champion Bull contenders. Up to an additional three more bulls may qualify as wild card contenders based upon rider vote or the Executive Competition Committee.
Berger hasn’t ruled out Asteroid making a late-season run at qualifying for the World Championship Bull race, and he knows things could then be wide open in Las Vegas where the World Champion Bull title comes down to strictly two outs at the state-of-the-art T-Mobile Arena.
He still realizes though that Asteroid needs to prove he has something left in the tank to compete alongside Jared Allen’s Air Time, SweetPro’s Long John and SweetPro’s Bruiser.
“I don’t know,” Berger said. “It just depends on how he wants to be. I have done everything I can to get him there. It is up to him now.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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