By: Justin Felisko
March 30, 2017
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – 2015 PBR Brazil champion Luciano de Castro nodded for the chute gate and took off into a left-handed spin aboard Voo Doo Too last weekend in Glendale, Arizona.
Voo Doo Too left the bucking chutes with plenty of speed, but the previously unridden bull in eight Built Ford Tough Series outs was easy pickings for the 20-year-old Brazilian superstar.
It was Castro’s second consecutive Built Ford Tough Championship Round ride in only his third championship round of the season, making him one of 14 riders with multiple rides in the championship round and 15/15 Bucking Battles.
By no means did Castro expect to set the PBR world on fire during his first year of competing on the Built Ford Tough Series.
Instead, the No. 22 rider in the world standings expected the ups and downs that have so far accompanied him through his first seven Built Ford Tough Series events.
“I thought it was going to take some time to get here and do good,” Castro admitted earlier this month with Robson Palermo translating. “I was one of the top guys, riding percentage, in Brazil, and I didn’t know how I would do here. I was planning on doing good like Brazil.”
Castro has a career riding average of 85.42 percent in PBR Brazil events.
So far in the United States, Castro has gone a modest 9-for-20 (45 percent) at the BFTS level, but he does have three Top-10 finishes, including last weekend’s sixth-place showing at the Ak-Chin Invitational.
The Guzolandia, Brazil, native rode Gravedigger, his re-ride bull, for 86 points in Round 1 and finished 2-for-3.
It was a good rebound for Castro, who had bucked off five bulls in a row following a 3-for-3 performance at the Jacksonville Invitational at the beginning of the month.
Castro rode Air Marshall for 87 points during the championship round in Jacksonville, Florida.
“It is amazing how a good rider can just make a bull look easy, and this one is not,” nine-time World Champion Ty Murray said on CBS Sports Network. “He is kicking at his belly and jumping and you see him blow up and get more air. He turned back to the left, but he is right on the money. He keeps having the counter moves taking the power away from the bull.”
Castro has struggled at times adjusting to bulls here in North America.
Instead of riding aggressive, Castro has caught himself staying too far behind and trying to anticipate a change in direction.
“The bulls are more difficult here because in Brazil, the kick puts you more on the rope,” Castro explained. “The kick here is more toward the front and throws you back a little bit. That is why I am bucking off some bulls. The change of direction. In Brazil, they are big bulls and kick more and put you on your rope more. Over here, they try to take you off the rope more.”
Castro picked up 90 points toward the world standings in Glendale and remains right in the thick of an extremely tight and compelling Rookie of the Year race. He is fourth in the rookie standings behind Dener Barbosa, Claudio Montanha Jr. and Cody Teel.
There are an additional four riders eligible for Rookie of the Year: Koal Livingston, Cody Rodeo Tyler, Jake Gowdy and Sonny Schafferius.
Castro has been a little shocked how strong Barbosa, Montanha Jr. and himself have looked at times.
“I am surprised,” Castro admitted. “All three of us come from Brazil. I didn’t know if I would do as good as I did in Brazil. All three of us are doing the same thing that we did there. We all come from there and are riding a high percent of bulls every week.”
Three-time World Champion Adriano Moraes has been high on Castro’s talent for years.
Moraes said during the 2016 Built Ford Tough Word Finals Castro has the potential to be as good as three-time World Champion Silvano Alves.
“I believe Luciano is a combination of different styles and techniques in one package,” Moraes said. “I believe that kid has what it takes to be a great one.”
Castro, who now lives with 2015 Rookie of the Year Kaique Pacheco, said, “I am so happy to hear that from him. Adriano is one of the best guys, and he knows how to look at other people. I am going to try my best.”
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert has also been impressed by parts of Castro’s game.
“Luciano is really good too,” Lambert said at Iron Cowboy. “He is the same kind of rider like Claudio (Montanha). He is well balanced and is going to stay in the middle.”
Castro has drawn Bezerk (3-2, BFTS) for Round 1 of the First PREMIER Bank PREMIER Bankcard Invitational on Friday night at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Fans can watch all of the action exclusively on PBR LIVE beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET.
“I am so happy,” he said. “This is a dream come true coming over here, especially riding at the top. I am dedicating myself more and I want to be really good. I am relaxed. I am just trying to ride my bulls.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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