By: Justin Felisko
January 14, 2017
CHICAGO – Here are three things we learned from the Chicago Invitational Friday night at Allstate Arena.
Pacheco ties for round win; bucks off Slinger Jr. (1-13-17)
It took Kaique Pacheco almost two months to win his first Built Ford Tough Series round last year.
This year it took him just two events.
Pacheco rode Fire Bender for 86.25 points to tie with Gage Gay for the Round 1 victory and 80 points toward the world standings.
“I am very happy to ride a very good bull and win the round,” Pacheco said.
The third year pro had ridden six consecutive bulls at all levels of competition after beginning the 2017 BFTS with two consecutive buckoffs last weekend in New York before bucking off Slinger Jr. in 4.97 seconds in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
Slinger Jr. had previously bucked Pacheco off on the final day of the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals, costing him the world title.
To avoid another World Championship shortcoming, Pacheco is striving to win more rounds in 2017.
Pacheco won eight of his 11 rounds last year in the final three months of the season.
The Itatiba, Brazil, bull rider believes those additional round wins can help him ultimately get over the World Championship mountain.
“My job is to ride the bull, but it is very important to win the rounds because there are a lot of points,” Pacheco said.
The 22-year-old has drawn The Joker (1-0, BFTS) for Round 2 on Saturday night.
Pacheco earned 80 world points for winning the Denver Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event this week, and he is up to seventh in the world standings thanks to another 80 points Friday in Chicago.
Gay rebounds from throat injury
Gage Gay bounced back from having his throat stomped on last week at Madison Square Garden to tie Pacheco for the round win.
Gay covered Tractor Tippin for 86.25 points to finish with Pacheco atop the Round 1 leaderboard.
“I will take it,” Gay said. “Well, first off, I had a whole different bull. I got the re-ride and it turned out pretty good. I can’t complain about it. He was just right there away from my hand and a bull that you want. A good, honest bull.”
Gay’s neck still had a red gash from when The Joker stomped on his throat in New York.
“I mean that is just what we do,” he said. “It isn’t the toughest sport on dirt for no reason. We know what we are getting ourselves into when we started. You have be tough. I have never had my throat stepped on, but I never really have been hurt a lot – knock on wood. This was probably one of the closest calls I ever had.”
Rounding out the Top 5 in the round was Brady Sims (85.75 points on Shake It Up), Mike Lee (85.75 points on Beast of Burden), Nathan Schaper (85.25 points on Mister Mean) and Alexandre Cardozo (85.25 points on Machinery Auctioneer’s Little Joe).
Sims was the final alternate invited to Chicago, and he is trying to make the most of his opportunity. The Holt, Missouri, cowboy had qualified for the World Finals two consecutive seasons before being cut from the BFTS last year.
He earned 45 points toward the world standings for tying for third place.
“That is a big load off my chest,” Sims said. “I have been fighting my head at all them Velocitys and all. I know I can ride them, but it is just going to take that one to do it. Whenever I got that call to come here, I was like this is our one right here.
“Last year was a learning experience. I took a lot of this for granted. This is one sport you can’t take for granted because if you let it, it will just keep beating you down.”
Sims takes on Bad Moon Rising (6-5, BFTS) in Round 2.
Schaper and Cardozo picked up 22.5 world points for splitting fifth and sixth place.
Gay is currently 12th in the world standings. He takes on Sledge Hammer (0-0, BFTS) in Round 2.
The Staley, North Carolina, native was confident heading into his 15/15 Bucking Battle matchup against Asteroid, but ultimately he was left dusting gray sand off his riding vest when the 2012 World Champion blasted him in 4.68 seconds.
“I was confident,” Gay said. “He kind of wanted to ball up in front of the box when I nodded and about took me off on the post. He pulled me right down there and I slapped him. Whenever he went back left, he just rocked me.”
Lee wins 15/15 Bucking Battle
2004 World Champion Mike Lee may have struggled walking up to the shark cage inside Allstate Arena to receive his 15/15 Bucking Battle victory belt buckle, but he had no trouble taking Handsome Jeff to an 8-second payday.
Lee rode Handsome Jeff for 87.75 points for his second career 15/15 victory.
“That red bull went right with Ryan (Dirteater) and I was waiting for him to go right and he couldn’t decide, so he went left finally. He went right at the end there and bucked me off at the whistle, but he felt good with good timing. That bull really bucks and kicks over his head.”
Dirteater had ridden Handsome Jeff for 90.5 points last week in New York.
Lee injured his calf in Round 1 in Chicago after Beast of Burden stepped on him.
“It is not bad,” Lee said. “I am just whining about it. It is alright. Bull riders get stepped on all the time. My calf is just tight.”
Lee earned 150 points toward the world standings and is up to fifth in the rankings.
There were two additional rides in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
Eduardo Aparecido rode Big Cat for 87.25 points and a second-place finish (90 world points), while Joao Ricardo Vieira covered Cooper Tires Semper Fi for 86.5 points and third place (75 world points).
Lee spent November and December traveling to Velocity Tour events with a group of Brazilian bull riders from Decatur, Texas.
The 33-year-old and 16-year PBR veteran said being around the contingency of dedicated riders helped him learn how to remain more composed when things may not go his way.
“I have learned a lot,” Lee said. “Being around these Brazilians. I have learned how to be calm and to enjoy life. Sometimes we forget to do that. We get pretty bored after 15-16 hours in the van, so we talk about everything.
“They are just really good family. That is really important.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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