TACOMA, Wash. ― Longtime stock contractor Chad Berger has confirmed that the 2014 season will be the last for Smackdown.
“He was back home this weekend,” said Berger, who paused as if to reconsider what he was about to say. “This will be the last time he’ll ever be out here. I’m going to retire him at the end of the year.”
Berger added, “That’s real tough to say. I’ve been pondering for some time now, but he’s got nothing left to prove and I don’t want it to the point where everybody gets on him and rides him. He’s getting older and I just want to let him go out a champion.”
One of the most reliable bulls not only for Berger, but of all time, Smackdown is among the greats.
Smackdown throws Joao Ricardo Vieira in 5.58 seconds earning a bull score of 46.25 points in the championship round of the 2013 BFTS Ariat Invitational in Oakland, Calif.
He was born and raised on the Katich Ranch in Northeastern Washington on the Colville Indian Reservation. Although Berger wanted to buy him the first time he saw Smackdown buck as a 3-year-old, it wasn’t until just before the World Finals as a 4-year-old that he was able to buy him from Steve Katich and thus move the big red muley to North Dakota.
As the end of his career looms, two words describe Smackdown: longevity and consistency.
“There’s no bull over the last five years that’s been as consistent as he has,” Berger said. “He shows up every time and bucks his heart out. He’s one bull you can rely on every single time.”
PBR statistician Slade Long said, “He will certainly end up in the Top 10 bulls with the most outs on the Built Ford Tough Series and could easily end up in the Top 5.”
According to www.probullstats.com, he currently has 74 career BFTS outs and is four shy of moving into the Top 10 mentioned by Long and 14 shy of the Top 5. He will reach 100 total career outs – BFTS, Touring Pro Division and pro rodeos – something that only 68 out of 31,175 bulls with records on Pro Bull Stats have accomplished.
He’s had 98 career outs. Seventy-four have been at BFTS events against the top-ranked riders in the world and only 19 of them have made the whistle. Smackdown has averaged 45.88 points per outing and the few who have made the whistle on him average a ride score of just over 91 points.
Sixteen of the 19 rides have been for round wins and 26 times he’s been the high-marked bull of the round.
“He’s never really had an off day,” Long said. “The only weak bull score he ever earned was probably an unfair guess on the judge’s part. Way back in 2009 on a .60 second buckoff. He’s got a chance at ending up his career with an average mark of over 45 points, which only 42 bulls have done.”
However, Berger recalled, Smackdown’s most legendary out came at a TPD event In Bismarck, N.D. It was June 2011 when Robson Palermo rode him for 94.5 points.
“If he would have been 96.5 points I don’t think anybody would have questioned it,” recalled Berger. “It was that good of a ride. It was a memorable moment that I’ll never forget.”
Berger said Smackdown is one of his best purchases along with Big Texand Copperhead Slinger.
“I’m going to treasure every time he bucks,” said Berger, who after retiringLittle Yellow Jacket remembered there were many days he missed watching him compete – he still does – so he’s going to make it a point to appreciate each of Smackdown’s final outs.
“It’s sad,” he continued, “but it made me realize I need to go out and do what I’m doing and get some young blood in the herd, so they don’t forget who I am. I’ve got a lot of great bulls. I’ve probably had as many World Finals short-round bulls over the past 10 years as anybody – that have been there and gone – but I’ve been busy this last week.”
Last month, Berger said he was back in the bull-buying business.
He did just that last week.
Berger recently purchased Fire & Smoke and now he’s added Modified Clyde, Cowtown Slinger, Apollo Stripes, Ropin Dreams and two young bulls from Brad Boyd and Toby Floyd, along with seven more young 3- and 4-year-olds that he picked up on Sunday from Arkansas.
Berger has high hopes for Modified Clyde, 5, and said no one has seen the best of him yet.
Asked if one of his recent purchases could potentially be the next Smackdown on his truck, he replied, “God I hope so.”
That said, he’s still looking but added, “I bought every good short round bull there is to buy—either short round or knocking on the short round.”
Reminded that Jared Allen and other contractors, including reigning four-time Stock Contractor of the Year Jeff Robinson and Wolf Creek Cattle Co., are also looking to buy bulls, Berger laughed, “Tell them they need to start getting up earlier than I do—because I’m after them.”
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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