Event preview: Fresno

By: Jordan Marie Johnson March 26, 2014@ 05:00:00 PM

Silvano Alves is still in search of his first BFTS victory of 2014. Photo by Matt Breneman /

FRESNO, Calif. ― The Professional Bull Riders return to Fresno’s Save Mart Center for the second consecutive year, and 10th appearance overall, on March 28-29 for the Table Mountain Casino Invitational, part of the elite Built Ford Tough Series.

This two-day event will pit the Top 35 bull riders in the world against the best bucking bulls in the business, including ESPN The Magazine’s “baddest body in sports,” Bushwacker.

Additionally, exemption invitees J.W. Harris – the four-time defending PRCA World Champion – and  2013 International Indian Rodeo Finals Champion Guytin Tsosie will ride alongside the best the PBR has to offer. Harris is making his PBR and BFTS debut.

Reigning two-time PBR World Champion Bull Bushwacker, arguably the greatest bull the PBR has ever known, has received attention from USA Today, ESPN and “CBS This Morning.” Bushwacker’s owner Julio Moreno announced in January that 2014 will be the last year of this athlete’s decorated career; he will officially retire after the PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals in October in Las Vegas and return to his home in Northern California. As a result, Fresno fans will only be able to watch Bushwacker buck one last time during the 15/15 Bucking Battle Friday night.

A $30,000 event title will be at stake this weekend, as well as valuable points needed towards the 2014 PBR World Championship. The action begins at 8 p.m. Friday, March 28, and 7 p.m. Saturday, March 29.

Tickets for the Table Mountain Casino Invitational are available now at the Save Mart Center box office, online at or by phone at (800)745-3000. Seats start at just $15 for more than two hours of world class bull riding action.

This year, defending World Champion J.B. Mauney is expected to compete alongside fellow World Champions Silvano Alves (2012, 2011), Renato Nunes, (2010), Kody Lostroh (2009) and Guilherme Marchi (2008). Fan favorites Ryan Dirteater and L.J. Jenkins, as well as young guns Chase Outlaw and Gage Gay, are also scheduled to appear.

Rounds 1 and 2 will take place on Friday and Saturday night with every bull rider facing one bull each day. Following Round 2, the riders with the Top 15 scores after two rounds will advance to the Built Ford Tough Championship Round for one more ride and a chance at the event title.

On Friday after Round 1, the Top 15 bull riders in the world and the Top 15 bulls will face off in the 15/15 Bucking Battle, a special round of competition offering added prize money and double the points toward the World Championship title. This round will also feature Bushwacker, the Bad Boy Mowers Bounty Bull, and offer the lucky bull rider facing him a $25,000 bonus for making a qualified 8-second ride.

Jenkins will go up against Bushwacker in the 15/15, a bull he has faced just once before. Bushwacker made quick work of Jenkins back in 2012 and threw him off in under three seconds. Jenkins currently sits 12th in the world standings with a riding percentage of 45.17 percent.

Maverick, who was covered by Stormy Wing back in February for 86.25 points, awaits current No. 1 bull rider Marchi during the Bucking Battle. Maverick has been ridden twice in his six outs on the BFTS. Mauney will look to make the 8-second mark in the 15/15 aboard Meat Hook, who bucked the World Champion off in Albuquerque last year in 4.42 seconds.

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Prior to a break in 2012, the BFTS stopped in Fresno every year from 2004-11. Riders such as Ring of Honor member Mike White, Lostroh, Nunes and Alves have won this event.

Fresno will be the 13th stop of 27 on the 2014 PBR Built Ford Tough Series schedule. The season kicked off Jan. 3-5 at Madison Square Garden in New York and will conclude at the PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals in Las Vegas on Oct. 22-26. The 2014 PBR World Champion, the bull rider who earns the most points during the 2014 season, will receive the coveted World Championship belt buckle and $1 million bonus while in Vegas.

The BFTS is televised every week on CBS, CBS Sports Network and networks around the world. BFTS telecasts are produced for the PBR under a multi-year agreement with David Neal Productions, a Los Angeles-based production company led by 34-time Emmy® Award winner and Peabody Award winner David Neal, who serves as executive producer.


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