BILOXI, Miss. – Asteroid’s wet, snotty nose was slightly kissing the out gate inside the bucking chute at Mississippi Coast Coliseum on Saturday night as Chase Outlaw began to finish tying his hand into his bull rope.
The 2012 World Champion Bull kept nudging his head slightly toward the arena side, hinting at an eager desire for the gate holding back all of his athletic prowess to give way.
Asteroid kept growing anxious with explosive anticipation with every passing second of being forced to sit and wait for his latest challenger to nod his head.
Once the gate opened, Asteroid nearly hipped himself as he roared into the arena and leapt higher than he has all season into the air, turning Chase Outlaw into an unnatural flying contortionist in 3.19 seconds.
The Hamburg, Arkansas, native became Asteroid’s 29th consecutive buckoff, and eighth this year, on the BFTS, by the time the bull was set for his third forceful takeoff off the ground.
“He was pretty stout, man,” Outlaw said. “He is a little, bitty, old, cute brown one, but he is pretty powerful. He is the real deal.”
In his final tune-up until the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals, Asteroid proved more than ever that he is one of the – if not the strongest – top World Champion Bull contenders heading to Las Vegas in less than three weeks.
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert called Asteroid a favorite heading into World Finals before the start of the final night of the Battle at the Beau and afterward he couldn’t help but rave about Asteroid’s performance, which was scored 47 points.
“Asteroid was amazing,” Lambert said. “I would have had him 48. I had 24 on my sheet. He was as good as I ever seen him.”
It is Asteroid’s first 47-point marking since Des Moines, Iowa, last year when he bucked off Douglas Duncan in 4.44 seconds.
“That could have been the best trip this year for him,” Gene Melton said. “He has had a couple of good ones that I thought were pretty good.”
Asteroid has competed a limited schedule this year and Saturday night was only his eighth out on the BFTS and 10th overall, yet he is averaging 45.25 points per BFTS out and looks to be in prime shape. The 47-point marking is tied with Jared Allen’s Air Time for the second-highest bull score of the season. Air Time’s 47.5-point score in Tulsa, Oklahoma, leads the BFTS.
Asteroid will not buck again until the World Finals, and Melton was pleased his bull finished the regular season with a memorable out.
“Well, you want to finish strong,” Melton added. “The bull is always capable of doing it, you just never know when he is going to do it. I have seen that bull stand on his head so many times that to me it was just another good trip.”
It was a good rebound for the bull after he was marked only 43.75 points in his last out when Fabiano Vieira lasted 6.87 seconds on him in Springfield, Missouri.
However, once again on Saturday night Asteroid slightly hipped himself coming out of the bucking chute. Four weeks ago in Thackerville, Oklahoma, Asteroid was almost called for a foul when he grazed the bucking chute as J.B. Mauney attempted to ride him.
It didn’t appear to affect Outlaw that much, but he did feel it.
“I felt my shoulder brush the deal, but I should of rode him,” Outlaw said. “I should ride every one, but it don’t work out like that sometimes.”
Outlaw was previously bucked off by Asteroid in 2.51 seconds during the second-half BFTS opener in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a month and a half ago. He also fell victim to the bull in a 2012 BFTS event in Nashville, Tennessee, when Asteroid was marked 46.75 points for a 7.17-second buckoff.
Melton knows that Asteroid’s hair trigger leaving the chute will always be a question mark for the bull – it is what cost Asteroid a shot at the World Champion Bull title during the 2011 World Finals.
“He has done that so much that if it happens it happens,” Melton said without a hint of worry.
Asteroid’s performance Saturday night was so strong that it overshadowed Mick E Mouse’s fifth 46 points or higher bull score of the season. Mick E Mouse earned 46.25 points for bucking off Lachlan Richardson in 2.11 seconds.
“Mick E Mouse wasn’t far behind him,” Lambert added. “I don’t think you could ask for more than either one of those bulls did.”
Just as the PBR World Championship race among riders is heating up prior to World Finals, there is a growing battle among the World Champion Bull contenders hoping to take the title away from defending champion Bushwacker.
Melton knows how special it would be for Asteroid to win his second World Champion Bull title.
“If you can come back and get another one that is what it is all about,” Melton concluded. “That is what we are after.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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