By: Justin Felisko
February 22, 2017
PUEBLO, Colo. – It is easy to get caught up in the world title race at the top of the world standings or the jockeying for position at the bottom of the Top 35 when riders are fighting to stay on the prestigious Built Ford Tough Series.
However, there have also been some riders this year in the mid-20 rankings slowly making some noise at BFTS events.
Just last week, 2008 Rookie of the Year Reese Cates won Round 1 of the Frontier Communication’s Iron Cowboy, presented by Kawasaki, with a season-high 88.5 points on Acting Crazy.
“I watched a couple videos of him last week and he has a little move right out of there and he could put it on you pretty quick if you are not paying attention,” Cates said. “I was talking to Guilherme (Marchi) and Guilherme said after the first round you can ride him all day long. He was a little tricky that first round and just a really good bull.”
It was one of the first times this season in which Cates didn’t grimace and grab at his torn right bicep muscle.
Instead, he let his Arkansas smile appear.
“I got it taped up and did physical therapy all week long,” Cates said. “Like I have said before, when you are in the perfect position it doesn’t hurt at all. That was a good bull, and I stayed right where I needed to be.
“It will be OK. It is going to hold up.”
Cates earned an important 125 points toward the world standings, and the ride propelled him to a fourth-place finish in Arlington, Texas.
The 28-year-old is now ranked 21st in the world standings and in a decent position to maintain his BFTS draw spot thanks to his best qualified ride since opening the 2015 season with a victory in Baltimore.
Saturday was Cates’ best finish since a fourth-place finish at the 2015 BFTS event in Tulsa, Oklahoma,
Cates had aggravated his torn bicep, which he first injured in 2015, at the New Town, North Dakota, Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event in November.
He had to pull himself out of the Kansas City Invitational during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round because of his bicep injury despite being in contention for the victory.
“At the end of last week, I didn’t even think I was coming here,” Cates said. “I was hurting that bad. Tandy and his guys loosened it up a little bit. I went home and did therapy all week long on it and it felt good.”
Cates, who is one of 10 new riders inside this year’s Top 35 compared to 2016, said he quickly learned this year that he can’t get lazy with his physical therapy.
He is aware that he has to keep working with his therapist, Mo Skelton.
“The problem that I have had up until now is that as soon as it gets to feeling better I quit doing therapy,” Cates said. “I talked to my physical therapist (last) week, and he said, ‘Hey man, whatever we have to do to keep you healthy for a full season we will.’
“If he has to come to some events with me, he would even do that.”
Cates has drawn Riff Raff (0-0, BFTS) for Round 1 on Friday night. Fans can catch all of Round 1 exclusively on PBR LIVE beginning at
Speaking of injuries, there are five riders not competing in St. Louis because of injuries.
World No. 2 Jess Lockwood is out with a torn groin, while No. 24 Nevada Newman remains out because of shoulder surgery.
Paulo Lima said in Arlington he would likely be back Jacksonville, Florida, as he continues to recover from broken ribs.
Lachlan Richardson (bicep surgery) and Aaron Roy (broken leg).
Three riders are competing with injury exemptions in St. Louis – Wallace de Oliveira (five remaining after St. Louis), Robson Palermo (four remaining) and Tanner Byrne (six remaining).
Fraser Babbington is the draw after receiving an exemption for his early-season visa issues.
No. 33 Jake Gowdy and No. 34 Sonny Schafferius are in the draw as alternates, while Cody Ford is set to compete in his second event of the year courtesy of his Reno, Nevada, Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event.
No. 30 Dakota Buttar is possibly returning to competition after missing Iron Cowboy because of a concussion.
Buttar said on Wednesday evening he was still mulling over a possible return.
“Hoping so,” Buttar said. “I’m going to see how I feel in the morning. I talked to Tandy (Freeman) this afternoon. He said I might need a little more time.”
He will take on Dirt Road (2-4, BFTS) in Round 1 if he decides to compete.
World leader Eduardo Aparecido will try to make it three weeks in a row on top of the shark cage as an event winner.
Aparecido will look to build his 337.5-point lead on Lockwood in Round 1 against Buccaneer (0-0, BFTS).
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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