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Behind the Chutes: What to Watch for, Day 5

LAS VEGAS – The 2014 Built Ford Tough Series has reached its final day of competition with the last two rounds of the World Finals ready to get underway on this Sunday afternoon.

Alves looking to become second three-time World Champion

Silvano Alves is poised to become the PBR’s second three-time World Champion on Sunday afternoon. The two-time World Champion has ridden nine of his last 10 bulls at the World Finals dating back to last year.

The 26-year-old has ridden all 11 bulls he has attempted in the month of October and sits 534.69 points back of the No. 1 rider Joao Ricardo Vieira.

However, with the 2,500 bonus points Alves would get if he wins the World Finals event average, he would be the current world leader by 965.31 points over Vieira at the start of Sunday’s competition.

The race is certainly not over, but Vieira, who is seventh in the event average, is two bulls (151.5 points) behind Alves in the event average.

If Alves were to win the World Championship and the World Finals event title, he would surpass Justin McBride as the richest athlete in Western sports. McBride currently holds the record with $5,124,418.42.

If J.B. Mauney wins the World Finals event title, he would surpass McBride’s record as well.

Bushwacker set for final out

Two-time World Champion Bull Bushwacker is set to end his legendary career Sunday during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round. Julio Moreno’s bucking bull has bucked off all 13 of his BFTS foes in 2014, and 63-of-65 challengers over the course of his six-year career.

Bushwacker will try overcome his 45-point bull score on Thursday night when he bucked off Brady Sims, and make a come-from-behind push to win his third World Champion Bull title and tie Little Yellow Jacket’s PBR record.

Asteroid enters Sunday as the favorite thanks to his 46.5-point bull score in Round 2.

Byrne making rookie race intriguing

Tanner Byrne began the week 1,090.58 points behind Gage Gay for the 2014 Rookie of the Year award. Gay has been atop the rookie standings all season long.

However, Byrne has ridden 3-of-4 bulls this week in Las Vegas to put himself in prime position to become the first Canadian to win Rookie of the Year despite dealing with a riding wrist injury during the second half of the season.

“I am loving it now,” Byrne said. “It is fun. I just am going to keep rolling and take them jump for my jump. My wrist is definitely not 100 percent. It will be nice to get a break here after the Finals and let it heal up. It kind of goes numb, but that’s bull riding.”

Byrne is currently fifth in the event average heading into his Round 5 matchup against I’m Your Huckleberry.

Gay, who has competed in the most events among BFTS rookies (24), has struggled to regain his groove following his 87.75-point ride on Cooper Tires Brown Sugar in Round 2.

Byrne is second on the BFTS with a 52.50 percent riding percentage, but has competed in only 15 events since earning a spot on tour.

The Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, bull rider has a strong contingent of family in attendance this week, including his father, Ryan, who has been pulling his bull rope inside the Thomas & Mack Center.

“He doesn’t come to many events because he is busy at home, but when he comes he usually helps me out,” Byrne said. “He always tells me to do my best and ride like I know how I know to do.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.

BEHIND THE CHUTES: MAUNEY RIDES AGAIN

LAS VEGAS – Round 4 of the Built Ford Tough World Finals is officially in the books and there are only two rounds remaining on Sunday afternoon at the Thomas & Mack Center before the 2014 World Champion is crowned. Here are three things we learned from Round 4 on Saturday night.

Mauney continues World Finals success

If not for the fact that J.B. Mauney is officially out of the world title race, this year’s World Finals would be shaping up in a similar fashion as last year when Mauney and Silvano Alves battled back and forth for the world title.

Mauney rode Bruiser for a Built Ford Tough Series season-high 93.25 points to win Round 4 by gaining control over the front end of the bull halfway through the ride and gutting through the final 2 seconds.

Director of Livestock Cody Lambert told Mauney prior to the Round 4 bull draft that he should select Bruiser.

“I knew he was one of the good ones going in there and Lambert just kind of put it out there on the line,” Mauney said. “He was one of the ones I was going to pick and I have got nothing to lose. I might as well go for first every time.”

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Mauney though. Mauney sits second in the event average with 271.5 points, but suffered a potential broken jaw after being flipped over Bruiser’s head. According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Mauney is probable for Round 5. He has drawn a rematch against Mr. Bull.

The previous highest-scored ride this season was Renato Nunes’ 92.5-point ride on Jared Allen’s Air Time.

It is also the best ride on the BFTS since Mauney rode Smackdown at last year’s World Finals for 93.75 points.

Mauney has broken out of the worst slump of his career (0-for-12) to ride 3-of-4 bulls at the World Finals.

“It don’t matter whether you are in a world title race or not, you need to go about things the same way,” Mauney said. “When you tie your hand in there and you be a cowboy it works out.”

Alves takes commanding lead in world title race

Silvano Alves took one more step toward tying history on Saturday night, and took command of the world title race by riding Freakster for 86.25 points to remain the only rider to not buck off through four rounds in Las Vegas.

More importantly, world leader Joao Ricardo Vieira was bucked off by Karaoke in 6.1 seconds putting Alves in great position to become just the second rider to ever win three PBR world titles.

Alves placed sixth in the round and shaved another 236.25 points off Vieira’s lead. The 26-year-old sits 534.69 points back of the No. 1 ranking.

However, with the 2,500 bonus points Alves would get if he wins the World Finals event average, he would be the current world leader by 965.31 points over Vieira, who will enter Round 5 seventh in the event average.

Alves has drawn Hokey Pokey for Round 5, while Vieira will face King Tut.

Alves has ridden 11 consecutive bulls. He has not been bucked off sincePanterror took care of the Pilar Do Sul, Brazil, native.

“Thank God I have been healthy, I always try to stay concentrated on what I have to do to ride and thank god it has worked so far,” he said. “I always prepare myself for the Finals. I always go to the gym, I always train. I always am preparing myself for the Finals.”

He is on pace to potentially become the fourth rider in PBR history to surpass the $4 million career-earnings mark and second rider to eclipse the $5 million mark come Sunday afternoon.

Long John wins ABBI Classic Championship

Long John posted a 2014 World Finals best 47.25-point bull score by dispatching J.W. Harris with authority in 3.7 seconds to claim the ABBI Classic title.

“He bucked tonight and, shoot, whenever he really kicked, that sucker kicked me in the back with his ass and it just kind of pushed me forward a little bit and it kind of got me out of time just enough,” Harris said. “When they buck that hard you can’t screw up.”

Long John had previously bucked off Valdiron de Oliveira in 2.45 seconds for a bull score of 45.5 points in Round 1. Long John has taken care of 10 of his 13 challengers on the BFTS in 2014.

Saturday was the third time Harris attempted to ride the bull, and he was bucked off for the second time this season. Harris, who previously rode Long John for 87.5 points in Springfield, Missouri, knew that when he selected the D&H & Cattle Company bull that he could potentially win Round 4.

“Why wouldn’t you pick when you could win first on him?,” Harris concluded. “Shoot, that is why we ride bulls.”

Injury Updates

2009 World Champion Kody Lostroh, three-time World Finals event winner Robson Palermo and Valdiron de Olivieira have all been ruled out for Round 5 due to injuries.

Lostroh strained his left groin Saturday night attempting to cover Oscar P.

Palermo has been dealing with a left ankle injury.

Oliveira sustained a lacerated chin and a possible mandible (jaw) fracture during the 4th round of the PBR Finals.

The absence of Lostroh, Palermo and Oliveira allows alternates Jason Malone, Harve Stewart and Luis Blanco to compete on Sunday.

Lachlan Richardson sustained a lacerated nose when Comfortably Numb fell on him after his ride. It was sutured in the training room.

Brady Sims competed with a sprained left shoulder (riding arm) when he landed on his elbow as he was thrown from California Kid.

Stetson Lawrence tore the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) of his left knee during the third round on Friday night and attempted to ride Feeling Blue on Saturday, but he was bucked off in 3.88 seconds.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.

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