By: Justin Felisko
January 07, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – 2015 World Finals event winner Cooper Davis is out for the Built Ford Tough Series opener in Chicago because of torn tendons in his riding hand.
Davis sustained the injury in November working on his parents’ house in Jasper, Texas, when a piece of tin slid off a barn he was working on and slit his right wrist.
He underwent surgery in November and has a follow-up appointment on Monday with a local doctor, which he hopes will lead to his clearance for the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden on Jan. 15-17.
“I cut my hand up there at a little barn thing at the house and cut a few tendons and had them fixed,” Davis said. “Right now I feel 100 percent and I am ready to go, but as far as my doctor goes, he wants me to wait until I come in Monday so he can evaluate it.”
The second-year BFTS pro heads into the 2016 season following a sixth-place finish in the 2016 world standings looking to be a consistent Top-5 rider.
“It is frustrating, but everybody has to deal with something every now and then,” Davis said. “I am just glad it wasn’t in the middle of the season where I would have missed a whole bunch of events.”
Davis concluded the 2015 season 24-for-64 (37.5 percent) with 10 Top-10 finishes and three Top-5’s. He also finished the year 12-for-24 with five consecutive Top-10 finishes.
He is only the fourth rookie in history to win the Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Eduardo Aparecido was also an unexpected withdrawal from Chicago after he informed the PBR competition department this week that he would be unable to make it to Chicago because of visa issues. Aparecido expects to be available for New York.
Aparecido and Davis were replaced by Wallace de Oliveira and Tyler Harr in the draw.
Oliveira has drawn Ram It, while Harr will take on Smooth Sailing on Saturday night. Both bulls are making their BFTS debuts.
In addition to Davis’ injury and Aparecido’s visa issue, there were six other open spots in the draw for the Chicago Invitational based on retirement or injuries from riders ranked inside the Top 35 of the final 2014 world standings – No. 5 Matt Triplett (elbow surgery), No. 16 Guilherme Marchi (knee), No. 24 Renato Nunes (retirement), No. 30 Chase Outlaw (shoulder surgery), No. 33 L.J. Jenkins (retirement), No. 34 Alexandre Cardozo (neck).
As a reminder, based on the PBR rulebook, riders that placed 1-30 in the 2015 world standings are guaranteed eight BFTS events before being subject to the cutline, while riders ranked 31-35 are guaranteed five BFTS events before being subject to being cut.
Therefore, until the sixth event of the 2016 season (St. Louis), all draws for BFTS events will be based on the 2015 world standings point totals plus the 2016 world standing point totals following any riders with injury exemptions.
Markus Mariluch (two remaining injury exemptions following Chicago) and Emilio Resende (two remaining injury exemptions) are both in the draw this weekend courtesy of their injury exemptions.
“I am pumped about it,” Mariluch said in November. “I am ready to go ride and make a lot of money this year.”
Mariluch had a close scare at the BlueDEF Tour event in Clovis, New Mexico, when he thought he may have broken his left leg when he was launched by Show Me. Instead, he later learned he has sustained a left ankle and MCL sprain.
Mariluch faces Little Air (1-0, BFTS) in Round 1 and Resende has a date with Oklahoma Bell (12-6, BFTS).
Lachlan Richardson, Justin Paton, Cody Heffernan and Michael Lane are the other alternates competing in Chicago.
Derek Kolbaba is competing in Chicago because of his BlueDEF Tour victory in Bakersfield, California.
The 19-year-old was a late storyline in 2015 after he won an automatic bid to the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals with a 2-for-3 performance at the BlueDEF Tour Finals in Louisville, Kentucky.
Now, Kolbaba hopes a big performance in Chicago can help him earn a spot on the BFTS full time.
This is perfect,” Kolbaba said in November. “That is where I want to be. I told myself after Vegas I wanted to get back there and have a great season. This is a great way to kick it off.”
He has drawn Set ‘em Up Joe (9-3, BFTS) in Round 1.
Kolbaba went 2-for-6 in four BlueDEF Tour events this fall, as well as 1-for-3 in two Touring Pro Division events. He heads to Chicago sitting tied for seventh in the world standings with 90 points.
The Walla Walla, Washington, bull rider currently trails Lane for the final alternate spot by 150.83 points to start the season.
Current 2016 world leader Paulo Lima is not competing in Chicago after making prior travel arrangements to compete at the BlueDEF Tour event in Oakland, California, on Saturday. Lima is expected to compete at the Monster Energy Buckoff at the Garden in New York on Jan. 15-17.
2004 World Champion Mike Lee had one of the strongest fall runs and begins the season with 180 points in the world standings. He went a combined 10-for-13 on the BlueDEF Tour and Touring Pro Division.
Lee has drawn Strong Heart (14-6, BFTS)) in Round 1. Strong Heart has bucked Lee off in two consecutive outs, but Lee did ride the bovine athlete for 86 points in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, last year.
Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney has drawn Wipeout (2-0, BFTS).
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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