Behind the Chutes: Cardozo Leading in Chicago

By: Justin Felisko
January 14, 2017

Alex Cardozo heads into Championship Sunday leading the event average. Photo: Andy Watson /

CHICAGO – Here are three things we learned from Round 2 of the Chicago Invitational Saturday night at Allstate Arena.

Alexandre Cardozo trying to make most of dwindling exemptions (1-14-17)

Alexandre Cardozo finally has gotten his confidence back to cut loose inside the arena following a broken neck at the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals.

Cardozo rode Ram It for 87 points and a second-place finish in Round 2.

“He come into my hand, and I feel very comfortable when bulls come into my hand now,” Cardozo said.

More importantly, Cardozo is 2-for-2 after also previously riding Machinery Auctioneer’s

Little Joe for 85.25 points in Round 1.

He is leading the event average heading into Championship Sunday.

“This is really important,” Cardozo said. “I don’t think much about money. I am concentrating more on my bull because I really need to pick up points. I need to do everything I can to make up points.”

Cardozo earned 60 points for the second-place round finish, as well as 22.5 points for tying for fifth in Round 1, but an event average win would net him 500 world points.

Those points would be crucial as Cardozo fights to do all he can to earn a full-time spot back on the BFTS for the first time since 2015.

“My mind feels so good now,” Cardozo said. “Silvano (Alves), Marco (Eguchi) and Kaique (Pacheco) are really working to help me.”

Five other riders are 2-for-2 in Chicago – Brady Sims, Rubens Barbosa, Justin Paton, Kaique Pacheco and Marco Eguchi.

Cardozo is 18th in the world standings.

Two years ago, Cardozo qualified for his first Built Ford Tough World Finals, but it ended with him bucking off Firehouse and breaking his neck (C6-7) and back (T5).

Cardozo is competing at the Chicago Invitational with an injury exemption after he only used two of his exemptions last year. He only has one more remaining before being subject to the BFTS cutline.

When Cardozo returned to competition in 2016, he wound up sustaining an ankle injury in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and a concussion. He decided to compete only at non-BFTS events and finished 2016 121st in the world standings.

In fact, Cardozo could surpass his career total of four qualified rides this weekend alone if he were to finish Chicago with two more qualified rides.

“In my mind, sometimes I don’t believe in myself,” Cardozo said. “The guys are really helping me and supporting me.”

Cardozo was cleared to return competition in Chicago after passing the PBR concussion protocol after Round 1.

He will take on Blue Duck (2-1, BFTS) in Round 3. Ryan Dirteater rode Blue Duck for 85 points in Round 1.

Cardozo has been training at Michael Johnson Performance four hours a day when his travel schedule isn’t too hectic.

“Before I would spend a lot of time on my phone,” Cardozo said. “Sometimes I wouldn’t train because I would stay on my phone. Now, I put my phone away and started practicing more and concentrating more on my bulls.

“I am focusing on my bulls.”

Barbosa wins first round since March 2016

Rubens Barbosa started things off with a bang in Round 2 by riding Machinery Auctioneer’s Little Joe for 88.75 points and wound up watching on as the next 34 riders were unable to best his score.

“I tried to ride him one time, but he bucked me off,” Barbosa said. “This time, thank God, it worked.”

Barbosa picked up 100 points toward the world standings. The round win is his first since riding Like A Boss for 87 points in Phoenix last March.

The ride is the fifth-best ride of his five-year BFTS career.

Barbosa, who rode Small Time for 82.25 points in Round 1, is third in the event average.

The 2011 Rookie of the Year is now ranked 12th in the world standings.

Barbosa has a rematch against Red Bandana (4-1, BFTS) in Round 3. Red Bandana bucked off Barbosa in Tucson, Arizona, last year in 3.34 seconds.

Rounding out the Top 5 in the round behind Barbosa and Cardozo was Cody Heffernan (85.75 points on Cracker Jack), Brady Sims (85.5 points on Bad Moon Rising), Matt Triplett (85.25 points on Lip Trick) and Mason Lowe (85.5 points on Dew Rag Dan).

Lowe was the only Top 35 rider from 2016 to finish inside the Top 5 of Round 2.

Heffernan’s third-place finish earned him 50 points toward the world standings, while Sims picked up 40 points. Triplett and Lowe each earned 22.5 points.

Pacheco and Eguchi turn down re-ride options

A night after tying for the Round 1 win, Kaique Pacheco elected to turn down his re-ride option following a 79.75-point ride on The Joker in Round 2.

Pacheco, who rode Fire Bender for 86.25 points in Round 1 Friday, is one of six riders a perfect 2-for-2 in Chicago.

The third-year pro is fifth overall in the event average.

“It is a three-day event,” Pacheco said.

When asked if he was confident that he could finish the weekend 4-for-4, Pacheco replied, “Yes sir.”

Pacheco is seventh in the world standings and finished 14th in Round 2.

He will take on Tractor Tippin (0-3, BFTS) in Round 3. Gage Gay tied with Pacheco for the Round 1 win Friday with 86.25 points on Tractor Tippin.

Meanwhile, Marco Eguchi also turned down a re-ride option on Wipeout after covering Precious Air for 68.75 points.

Eguchi is 5-for-6 on the Built Ford Tough Series and is tied with Jess Lockwood, who was bucked off by Swashbuckler in 4.44 seconds, for the league lead, but still decided to turn down the opportunity for a higher score.

“That bull (Wipeout) goes away from my hand,” Eguchi said. “He bucked off Joao (Ricardo Vieira).

Eguchi has drawn Milky Jones (8-2).

Injury Updates

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Fabiano Vieira did not compete in Round 2 after dislocating his left shoulder attempting to ride Wicked Stick in the 15/15 Bucking Battle. He is out for the remainder of the weekend and is questionable for Oklahoma City.

Dener Barbosa sustained a concussion when he was thrown hard to the ground by Buckeye Bill (4.05 seconds). He is questionable for Round 3.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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