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Behind the Chutes: Anaheim Draw

PUEBLO, Colo. – Matt Triplett will head into this weekend’s Anaheim Invitational as the No. 1 bull rider in the world for the first time in his career.

Triplett has been flawless through the first two rounds at Built Ford Tough Series (BFTS) events this season and is a perfect 10-for-10 in those respective rounds to make up for his shortcomings in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round (0-for-5). He is 1-for-2 in the third round and 0-for-1 in 15/15 Bucking Battles.

The 23-year-old is slated to face Hawaiian Hurricane in Round 1 and El Capitan in Round 2. Both bulls are making just their second outs of their BFTS careers.

It’s been an eventful week for the No. 1 bull rider in the world, who went to Super Bowl XLIX with Douglas Duncan and hiking in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Three-time World Finals event winner Robson Palermo returns to action in Anaheim after missing last weekend’s Sacramento Invitational. It is Palermo’s final guaranteed BFTS event of the first half before he is subject to being relegated to the BlueDEF Velocity Tour/Touring Pro Division for the first time in his career.

Palermo takes on Rio Branco in Round 1, is currently 79th in the world standings with 30 points. It has been a tough start to 2015 (1-for-9) for the 31-year-old and he will need to earn over 125 points to potentially pass Bryan Titman, who is in Anaheim as the top alternate with 155 world standings points.

David Mason and Cooper Davis are making their 2015 season debuts following good performances in the BlueDEF Velocity Tour, Touring Pro Division and international events.

Mason is ranked 12th in the world standings and it will be his sixth BFTS event of his career after making his debut last year in Phoenix. The 27-year-old used four wins in Australia (Townsville, Tamworth, Barooga and Charters Towers) to earn his opportunity to compete on the BFTS.

He also competed at the Salt Lake City BlueDEF Velocity Tour event last weekend and carries a combined 72.73 percent riding average (16-for-22) at non-BFTS events this year into Anaheim.

Mason faces Alex’s Cowboy Monster in Round 1, while Davis gets a tough rematch against Fire & Smoke.

Fire & Smoke has bucked in three championship rounds this season (Baltimore, Chicago and New York) and bucked off Davis in 3.94 seconds last year during Davis’ BFTS debut in Nashville.

Kaique Pacheco, the No. 8 bull rider in the world, currently leads the BlueDEF Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division standings and he is back on the BFTS for the first time since winning Round 3 in New York with an 87.75-point ride on Rough ‘em Up Tuck.

Tyler Harr is this weekend’s BlueDEF Velocity Tour invite because of his victory in Reno, Nevada, three weeks ago. It will be the 24-year-old’s third BFTS event of the season, and he is 1-for-4 on the BFTS this year.

Round 2 on Saturday night will feature seven rematches (Ben Jones vs. Shanghai Heat; Brady Sims vs. Mr. Showbiz; J.B. Mauney vs. Wired Wishes; Kasey Hayes vs. Hells A Poppin; Shane Proctor vs. Rock RiverRed; Tanner Byrne vs. Pay It Forward; Valdiron de Oliveira vs. Super Cool Cat).

Only two of the seven riders won their previous matchups: Hayes rode Hells A Poppin for 85 points last week in Sacramento and Oliveira, who is the defending event champion, rode Super Cool Cat for 86 points during the 2013 Built Ford Tough World Finals.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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