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Behind the Chutes: Albuquerque, Day 1

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Here are three things we learned from Round 1 of the Ty Murray Invitational on Friday night at WisePies Arena, aka The Pit.

Jenkins shows how much he loves Albuquerque

L.J. Jenkins generated the loudest ovation of any rider this season thus far with his 88.75-point ride on Little Red Jacket to finish Round 1 in second place.

The Texico, New Mexico, high school graduate is always a fan favorite at the Ty Murray Invitational and he continues to have a successful history in Albuquerque.

“I love Albuquerque, that is basically it,” Jenkins said. “I always can’t wait to get here. It seems like I always have a slow start (to the season) before I get here. Then I ride good and get the momentum going. Hopefully I can go for another event win this weekend.”

Jenkins has a career riding average of 58.06 percent (18-for-31) at the Ty Murray Invitational and has twice won the event (2011/2008).

The 27-year-old said he had seen Little Red Jacket a couple of times before attempting him on Friday night.

“That is an awesome bull,” Jenkins added. “When I saw the draw, I couldn’t have been happier. I have been excited all week.”

Jenkins earned 60 points for the second-place finish and moves from 25thin the world standings to 23rd.

Michael Gaffney, the 1997 World Champion, was in attendance and called Jenkins’ ride “outstanding.”

“Hell, after that, us New Mexicans will claim him,” Gaffney said. “They get behind their boys. They know that even though he has transplanted over to Oklahoma, he still belongs to them.”

Gaffney is the only other New Mexico native to win a PBR world title – Owen Washburn won the 1996 championship – and he explained that one of his biggest disappointments in his career was never winning an event in Albuquerque.

“That was one of the most disappointing things of all of my years being at this event,” Gaffney said. “I was never able to take home a win or even – from what I remember – have any great round success. Call it trying to hard or trying to make something happen for the home crowd – that is what you want to hear.”

Those loud ovations and fan support is why Jenkins loves coming to Albuquerque every year.

“These are the best bull riding fans out there and they seem to get louder for the New Mexican guys,” he concluded.

A healthier Pacheco wins his fifth round of 2015

Kaique Pacheco busted out of his 1-for-8 slide with a round-winning 89.75 points on Joe The Grinder to earn round points for the first time since winning Round 1 in Kansas City, Missouri, with an 89.75-point ride on Brutus.

“It was a little bit hard tonight,” Pacheco said with the help of Valdiron de Oliveira translating. “He rode good, but the bull pushed forward on my hand and went around a little bit.”

Pacheco believes his recent struggles were a product from when he was slammed to the ground by Smooth Operator in 2.45 seconds during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round in Kansas City, Missouri. He has spent the past three weeks dealing with soreness from the wreck.

“My body had been so sore, but this week I finally feel much better and was ready to come to work,” Pacheco said. “A couple of weeks ago, I just landed too hard on the ground and my body stayed sore because the ground was so hard.”

Pacheco earns 100 points for the Round 1 win – he is now tied with Matt Triplett for the most BFTS round wins – and returns to the Top 5 (No. 4 overall) of the world standings after having dropped to sixth during his cold streak.

He gains 100 points on Triplett. The world leader rode Rock River Red for 84.5 points, but finished the first round tied for 11th with Claudio Crisostomo (84.5 points on Deja Voodoo).

Eduardo Aparecido earned 50 points for placing third with 87.75 points on Legal Tender, and Cooper Davis picked up 40 points with a career-high 86.75 points aboard Wasted Wages.

Joao Ricardo Vieira, J.W. Harris and Guilherme Marchi earned 10 points apiece for splitting fifth place in the round with 86.5-point rides on Red Dingo, Past Time and Walk Off, respectively.

Harris nearly didn’t get out on Past Time, but finally was able to nod his head and make the most of the situation despite being held up for a few minutes inside the bucking chute.

Marchi was frustrated following his ride on Walk Off and felt he deserved a higher score on his re-ride.

The 2008 World Champion was even more frustrated earlier in the night when he had to challenge for the re-ride when Hungry Eyes barreled into the right side of the arena boards.

There were a total of 17 qualified rides in Round 1.

Schaper battles through four bull riding attempts in 15 minutes

If Ford gave out a Built Ford Tough award, then the recipient on Friday night would have to be Nathan Schaper.

The No. 10 bull rider in the world attempted four bulls in roughly a 15-minute timeframe, and things got especially tougher for the Grassy Butte, North Dakota, native when he had to nod his head for three of the final four outs of the night.

Schaper wound up riding Say I Won’t Playboy for 84.75 points to finish Round 1 in 10th place and called it a moral victory while trying to regain his breath.

“I am really tired,” said an exasperated Schaper with sweat dripping down his face. “The rope… he wasn’t even, ah, you just had to throw it on and go. It was…I don’t know. I am glad that was my last one for the night.”

Schaper’s evening began with a re-ride option following his 67.25-point ride on Pile Driver. He was then given two more re-ride options after failed attempts aboard Cash Ya Out and Strong Heart.

The 24-year-old added that he never attempted that many bulls in that short of a time period.

He felt relieved when he realized about half way through the ride on Say I Won’t Playboy that he was in control of the bovine athlete.

“When he turned back there and I gathered him up, I felt pretty good,” Schaper said. “I had fun. Everyone was watching and people were giving me crap. I was starting to think I was weighing them down too much. They kept falling down in the bucking chute too much. I don’t know what was going on. It was just bad luck really.”

Injury updates

Two of the Top 6 riders in the world standings (Triplett and Reese Cates) were competing with injuries on Friday night, according to Dr. Tandy Freeman.

Triplett was able to record a qualified ride despite a sprained right sernoclavicular joint in his riding arm that he hurt when he hit his shoulder last week in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round during his buckoff against Spotted Demon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Cates was not so successful in Albuquerque. The No. 6 bull rider in the world was in clear pain following his 78-point ride on Kung Fu Fighter, but he still decided to accept his re-ride option on More Big Bucks, who bucked him off in 3.6 seconds.

There were seven additional riders competing with injuries in Round 1: Jenkins (unstable right shoulder); Aparecido (sprained left shoulder, free arm); Douglas Duncan (right shoulder contusion, free arm); Ryan Dirteater (unstable left knee); Dave Mason (sprained left riding hand); Alexandre Cardozo (right elbow sprain) and Stormy Wing (sprained left MCL).

Nine riders were listed as officially out of competition: J.B. Mauney (left knee); Emilio Resende (multi-ligament knee reconstruction); Ty Pozzobon (concussion); Markus Mariluch (bicep tear); Josh Faircloth (left ankle fracture); Billy Robinson (left PCL tear); Chase Outlaw (right shoulder dislocation/torn rotator cuff); Cody Nance (pelvis sprain) and Tanner Byrne (sprained left thumb, riding hand).

Rubens Barbosa (right ankle), Kasey Hayes (concussion), Wing (right leg contusion) and Aparecido (sprained left shoulder, free arm) also returned to competition this weekend.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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