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Berger: ‘He is My Best Shot I Ever Had’

PUEBLO, Colo. – Four-time and reigning Stock Contractor of the Year Chad Berger has seen his fair share of bull power in his lifetime at the Built Ford Tough World Finals.

In 2009, Berger won the World Champion Bull crown with Code Blue.

However, the Mandan, North Dakota, stock contractor believes this year is the best chance he has ever had at winning the World Champion Bull title because of Smooth Operator.

Berger made the bold claim earlier this year in Seattle, and he echoed those thoughts again on Monday night’s episode of “PBR Road to Vegas” (9:30 ET, CBS Sports Network).

“I won it with Code Blue, but I think this bull is ranker than him,” Berger said. “I think he is my best shot I ever had to win bull of the year.”

Berger joins host Craig Hummer, nine-time World Champion Ty Murray, PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert, two-time World Champion Justin McBride and 1994 Rookie of the Year J.W. Hart to discuss the Built Ford Tough World Finals and what it takes to raise a World Finals caliber bucking bull.

The episode is the third of a five-part weekly series on CBS Sports Network.

Smooth Operator, who is competing in this weekend’s 15/15 Bucking Battle in Allentown, Pennsylvania, is one of the top World Champion Bull contenders heading into the Finals next month.

He has gone 13-1 this year on the Built Ford Tough Series and is averaging 44.7 points per out.

He has posted a bull score of 45 points or higher on the BFTS seven times this season.

“The very best bull I got is Smooth Operator,” Berger said. “I have a lot of really good bulls right now, but he just sticks out. If you just watch him, he is so athletic and his body is going in three different directions when he is bucking.”

Smooth Operator has looked so strong that McBride is unsure if he could have ridden in him his prime.

Regardless, it wouldn’t have stopped him from trying.

“I don’t know if I ever could have ridden Smooth Operator, but I would have picked him every time. First pick or last pick.”

Following McBride’s comment, Hummer opened the question of which current bull the panel would have liked to try and ride during the prime of their careers.

“At 53 years old, I want to get on the one they take their picture on and they can lead around,” Lambert joked, “but in my prime, I would like to show J.W. (Hart) Stone Sober is not as tough as he thinks he is.”

Hart replied, “We can make that happen.”

Lambert quickly responded with a smile, “I have no Unfinished Business.”

Hart also has no unfinished business remaining, but he said he would have liked to have attempted Long John.

“I would have to lean toward Long John because of the simple fact I think a lot of guys are scared of him,” Hart said. “Bull riding is an ego thing.”

Murray said it would either be Smooth Operator or Jared Allen’s Air Time.

“Smooth Operator and Air Time are the two rankest bulls,” Murray said. “To be clear, I don’t want to be on any of them. In my prime, it would have been those two.”

Air Time recently put in his latest claim at proving he has what it takes to be the 2015 World Champion Bull by tossing world leader J.B. Mauney in 4.57 seconds.

Berger would like his bull to get a crack at the 2013 World Champion this year.

“I would like to see J.B. Mauney get on him,” Berger said. “To me, J.B. Mauney is the best rider. He is going to pick the best bull 99 percent of the time.”

Many believe that this year’s World Champion Bull race is wide-open and there are various bulls that are capable of snagging the 2015 title.

Like other stock contractors H.D. Page, Julio Moreno, Gene Owen and Matt Scharping have stated, it all will come down to how each bull performs on the biggest stage in Las Vegas.

“There are a lot of great bulls out there,” Berger said. “They have to have two great trips at the Finals. … “There are five or six bulls of his character. You have to beat them at the Finals.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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