Asteroid, Mick E Mouse Set the Pace

LAS VEGAS – Chase Outlaw grabbed his bull rope and walked back through the Hall of Champions inside the Thomas & Mack Center with his head held low following another defeat against Asteroid on Thursday night.

Regardless, there is no shame in being tossed by one of the strongest bucking bulls at the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals.

The 2012 World Champion Bull used an impressive 47-point out against Outlaw three weeks ago in Biloxi, Mississippi, to put his name atop the list of favorites in this year’s World Champion Bull race. Then, on Thursday night he took care of the Hamburg, Arkansas, bull rider in 2.63 seconds to take the lead in the World Champion Bull Contender race with a 46.5-point bull score.

Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said it is always a benefit to a bull when a good rider is on his back.

“You want somebody good on him and Chase is a good bull rider and you get to see a little bit,” Lambert said.

In four career outs against Outlaw, Asteroid is averaging 46.44 points.

Asteroid has one more out remaining Sunday to clinch his second career world title. Other than in 2011 when he hipped himself, Asteroid has been marked 46 points or higher in 5-of-7 World Finals outs over the course of his five-year BFTS career.

Lambert said Asteroid is capable of more, and still has to be the favorite.

“He looked good,” Lambert said during intermission on Thursday night. “I have seen him have little better trips than that, but that was one of the best trips so far.”

Asteroid has spent much of his career in the shadows of Bushwacker, but he is poised to spoil Bushwacker’s farewell tour on Sunday afternoon.

Bushwacker trails Asteroid by 1.5 points following Bushwacker’s 3.9-second buckoff of Brady Sims.

“I still hope Bushwacker wins it,” Lambert said. “That is my sentimental favorite and if I had it my way Bushwacker would win it, but if I was betting I would bet on Asteroid.”

Asteroid has been marked 46 or more points three times this year.

Not only is Asteroid’s hair-trigger always a concern, but Mick E Mouse is knocking right on the doorstep as well.

Marlene Henry’s playful bull was marked 46 points for his 26th consecutive BFTS buckoff when he threw off Eduardo Aparecido, the eighth rider in the world standings, in 1.18 seconds. Mick E Mouse also faced the highest-ranked bull rider out of the World Champion Bull contenders.

It was Mick E Mouse’s fifth out of the season that scored 46 points or higher – which is tied with Bushwacker for the most in the BFTS.

Henry said she was not concerned after watching Asteroid bucked just before her bull.

“Not necessarily, no,” she said. “It doesn’t really make a difference. All the bulls were marked pretty high tonight. That made me a little nervous when they started marking them that high off the bat. I was thinking, ‘Where does  that leave the bulls at the end?’ That makes it pretty tough.”

Yet, Mick E Mouse was unfazed.

He also is quietly waiting behind the shadows of Asteroid and Bushwacker and is right in the mix for his first career world title.

Roy (45.25), Bushwacker (45) and Jared Allen’s Air Time (44.5) round out the Top 5 heading into Sunday.

Mick E Mouse has been marked 46 points once in five World Finals outs.

While Bushwacker has had a camera on him 24/7, Mick E Mouse has spent time in his pen playing in the sand and enjoying the Las Vegas sun with very little attention on him.

“We exercised him today and he was playing and rolling around in the dirt,” Henry said. “He is always playful. You give him a sand pile and he is like a kid. He will play for hours.”

It is also a way Henry and Kevin Loudamy exercise their bull.

“You can’t exercise him,” she added. “That is his exercise. You can’t get behind him and trot him and run him. He gets down in the sand and plays in that.”

Both bulls have faced their fair share of World Champions this season.

Asteroid has bucked off J.B. Mauney and Silvano Alves (twice) this year, while Mick E Mouse has dumped Guilherme Marchi (twice).

However, only one bull can leave Las Vegas as a World Champion.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.

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