ARLINGTON, Texas – Asteroid poked his nose through the bucking chute, stared off into AT&T Stadium and glanced toward the crowd of over 30,000 people.
The 2012 World Champion Bull was about to make the final out of his career and was at complete peace as his owner Jeff Talley (Circle T Ranch & Rodeo) and stock contractor Gene Melton stood confidently to his right.
Once Mike Lee started to position himself aboard Asteroid, the bovine athlete began to shift around and squatted down inside the bucking chute like the many times before in his four-plus years on the Built Ford Tough Series career.
Beyond trying to give himself a greater advantage, it was almost as if he wanted to tell Lee, ‘Hey, let me enjoy this moment a little bit longer.’
Regardless, he didn’t need much time once the gate rang open.
Asteroid made sure everyone standing on the back of the chutes felt his presence and everyone in the crowd saw him when he swung his hips toward the center of the arena and slammed the 2004 World Champion to the ground in 1.61 seconds.
The chutes had barely stopped slowly shaking from the force the bovine athlete exited with by the time Lee was picking his head up off the ground wondering what in the world had just happened.
“It really worked out great,” Talley said. “That was a fitting end. He fired. When he left, it was just like he always has. I think he was ready to do his job.”
Lee added, “He was real squatted in there and I knew he was going to be long. He was rested and I think he had one of his ranker trips. It seems like they always do with me.”
Asteroid was marked 46 points – the 29th time in his career that he has been marked 46 points or higher – and he finishes his BFTS career with a 49-4 record and an average bull score of 45.74 points.
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).
Alves ended Asteroid’s career-best streak of 30 consecutive buckoffs on the BFTS last year when he rode the bull to win his third World Championship and the World Finals event title.
Asteroid was only marked 42.75 points, and the out left Talley a little bit disappointed beyond the fact that his bull had entered the final day of the World Finals in the lead for the World Champion Bull title.
It is why he really wanted to see his bull end his career on a high note on Saturday night.
“When Silvano rode him at the Finals, yeah you want them to ride them every now and then. It just didn’t seem like he had the best trip to me, and Silvano rode him good. It was a great deal, but to see him go out like he did last night – that made me feel good.”
It also left PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert wanting more.
“He went out like the champ he is,” Lambert said. “My last words to Gene Melton were that if he changes his mind, I still think he can win it this year.”
Melton was unavailable for comment after having to leave AT&T Stadium after slicing his finger open on the back of the bucking chutes while loading Asteroid into the chute.
Talley said he was grateful for Lambert’s compliment.
“It is tempting you know, but it was a heartfelt decision to get to this point,” Talley said. “We made the decision and I appreciate them wanting him back and really building him up like they did, but I think right now we are going to hang tight with what we are doing.”
The plan going forward is for Asteroid to be a staple of the breeding program that Talley has been working on transitioning Circle T Ranch & Rodeo into full time.
Talley hasn’t ruled out a return to bringing bucking bulls to PBR events in the future, but he is sticking with the breeding side of the industry for now.
“Only time will tell because I really do enjoy this,” he said. “PBR has been really good to us, and having these bulls, this was something my mom and dad started years ago. After they passed, we carried it on. Who knows what the future holds. We may get the itch again and put something together later.”
Asteroid won his only world title in 2012 during a time period where he had to go head-to-head with legendary three-time World Champion BullBushwacker.
It is easy to wonder how many more world titles Asteroid could have won, but it doesn’t bother Talley one bit.
“Well, the thought crosses your mind,” Talley admitted. “I wouldn’t want to change anything because Bushwacker will go down as one of the greatest bulls in history, if not the greatest. Yeah, we might have won more. You don’t know.”
Asteroid’s rivalry with Bushwacker was one of Talley’s favorite memories.
“Everybody remembers Bushwacker and everybody remembers Asteroid,” Talley added. “Kind of the rivalry we had with Bushwacker. They were always neck and neck. It seemed like every event we went to, it was that big build up.”
Lambert compared the battles between Asteroid and Bushwacker to two future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
“If Tom Brady hadn’t been around, there would be no debate over whether or not Peyton Manning was the best quarterback of his era,” Lambert said. “If Peyton Manning wouldn’t have been around the same years as Tom Brady, there would be no debate whether Tom Brady was the best quarterback of his time.
“There is that kind of stuff about Bushwacker and Asteroid. Asteroid beat Bushwacker and pushed him to the limit four times, even at the end there.”
Once and for all, Asteroid and Bushwacker will forever be connected even by who they bucked off in their final outs.
Bushwacker bucked off Lee in 2.13 seconds for a bull score of 46.5 points at the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals in his final career out.
“Things have a way of working out like that,” Talley said. “It couldn’t have been more fitting.”
After Party and Shepherd Hills Trapper also go out on top
Not to be lost in Asteroid’s retirement is the fact that Talley’s other two bulls, Jack Daniel’s After Party and Shepherd Hills Trapper, also bucked for the last time on Saturday night.
After Party bucked off Neil Holmes in 3.59 seconds during Round 1 and was marked 43.25 points. He finishes his four-plus year career with a 44-22 record and an average bull score of 44.29 points on the BFTS.
Shepherd Hills Trapper (43-point bull score) took down four-time PRCA champion J.W. Harris in 1.13 seconds in Round 2. He concludes his five-plus year career with a 55-10 record and average BFTS bull score of 43.95 points.
“After Party is one of the most solid bulls we ever had,” Talley said. “You can basically buck him out in the parking lot and he is going to do the same thing. They are getting older and you start worrying about whether they are slowing down and stuff. Both of them had real good outs and left a good taste in my mouth.
“Hey, if we are going to do this, that was kind of the way to go out.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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