By: Justin Felisko
April 13, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Ryan Dirteater’s face lights up like a little boy out on the playground when asked about I’m A Gangster Too.
“That is my buddy!” Dirteater joyfully exclaims.
Dirteater was all smiles after I’m A Gangster Too helped him win his second Built Ford Tough Series event of the season and a $39,777.86 payday this past weekend in Little Rock, Arkansas.
“I like the way he feels,” Dirteater said. “When you are in the right position on him, it feels great. When you are not, he feels horrible. You have to stay in the middle and try not to make too big of moves because he is really up and down and he can be left, right, it don’t matter.”
However, I’m A Gangster Too hasn’t always been such a giving friend. Sunday was the 10th time the two buddies teamed up on the BFTS and their friendship has not always been on the best of terms.
Normally, I’m A Gangster Too is the selfish one of the relationship, having bucked Dirteater off seven times before Dirteater was able to finally ride his old pal for 86.5 points during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round Sunday afternoon.
“I really went to the front and set my hips the whole time,” Dirteater said. “That is what I had to do and he slammed me right there at the whistle, so good thing that whistle went off.”
CBS Sports Network commentator and 2002 World Finals event winner J.W. Hart added, “Not the greatest day by I’m A Gangster Too, but good enough to get the win. That is what Dirteater picked him for and he made it count when it had to count the most. He finished it off and finished it off in fine form. The bull bucks. He is jumping and kicking. He is not spinning. He is bucking in a tight circle and takes off at the end. Gets him the win.”
Dirteater has now ridden I’m A Gangster Too in two consecutive trips after only finding success once in the previous eight encounters. He previously had ridden I’m A Gangster Too for 88 points last season in Tucson, Arizona, for a fifth-place finish.
“He is a bucking bull and he loves to buck,” Dirteater said. “He has been around for years. That makes my 10th time getting on him. He cost me a lot of money, but I have won a lot on him.”
In reality, Dirteater has lost a lot more money because of I’m A Gangster Too than he has won. Dirteater had won $20,000 with his two previous rides on I’m A Gangster Too before winning Little Rock, but six of his buckoffs came during either the Built Ford Tough Championship Round or a 15/15 Bucking Battle.
“I like the draft,” Dirteater added. “I do, especially if you are coming back in the No. 1 spot. If you are coming back in that 15 spot, it is not usually rider friendly.”
Dirteater and I’m A Gangster Too were first introduced to each other in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2013 when Dirteater lasted only 3.37 seconds.
Their friendship clearly began on rocky terms, but Dirteater, who is known to be one of the nicest riders on the BFTS, kept deciding to give this bovine athlete another chance to be his friend.
“First time I got on him, I really liked the way he felt,” Dirteater said last season. “He made short work of me, but when he bucked me off it really made me mad because he felt so good. I just made a little mistake and I knew I could ride him, so I just kept picking him.”
I’m A Gangster Too then fell down during their next meeting the following year in Phoenix before Jeff Robinson’s bovine athlete bucked off Dirteater in 3.14 seconds at the 2014 Ty Murray Invitational.
Sure enough, Dirteater’s patience paid off and Dirteater rode I’m A Gangster Too for 89 points in Des Moines, Iowa, and $14,100, a month after the Ty Murray Invitational.
“He is really up and down and there is no telling what he will do,” Dirteater said. “You just have to ride him jump for jump.”
Instead of being rivals or foes like J.B. Mauney and three-time World Champion Bull Bushwacker were, the relationship between Dirteater and I’m A Gangster Too is more along the lines of two brothers.
Dirteater has a daily reminder of I’m A Gangster Too in the hallway between his bedroom and kitchen at home in Oklahoma.
“I’ve got a photo of him the first time I rode him,” Dirteater said. “It is in the hallway hanging up about eye level. When I get up, I walk past it and look at it.”
The two have continued to grow up on the BFTS together. Dirteater is now in his ninth season on the BFTS, and is currently on pace to finish inside the Top 10 of the world standings for the first time of his career, while I’m A Gangster Too is amid his sixth season and has qualified for the previous five PBR World Finals.
The two dancing partners won’t be able to team up this weekend at the Stanley Performance In Action Invitational seeing as Derek Kolbaba has drawn him in Round 2, but Dirteater will be cheering on his good friend.
Dirteater will take his talents up against Hot Stepper (1-0, BFTS) in Round 2. He is paired up against Lee’s Dream (4-0, BFTS) in Round 1 Friday night.
The Hulbert, Oklahoma, bull rider has drawn Stone Sober for Saturday night’s 15/15 Bucking Battle. The matchup will be aired on CBS national television Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
Billings is another opportunity for Dirteater to work towards achieving his goal of finishing the first half of the BFTS inside the Top 10 of the world standings.
“I have been wanting to crawl into that Top 10 before the break because I am going to take that break off and just team rope,” Dirteater concluded.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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