Fantasy Focus: Allentown

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Kaique Pacheco heads into the Allentown Invitational having ridden four of his past five bulls and is right in the thick of the world title race.

Not only has Pacheco been consistent in the last two weeks, the No. 3 bull rider in the world is also averaging 85.56 points per ride during that stretch.

Pacheco is slated to face Springer Mountain (1-1, BFTS) in Round 1.

World leader J.B. Mauney heads into the weekend following a 1-for-3 performance in Charlotte, North Carolina. Excluding events with a 15/15 Bucking Battle, Mauney has not bucked off two bulls in two consecutive Built Ford Tough Series (BFTS) events since February.

Mauney takes on Tattoo (0-0, BFTS).

Meanwhile, world No. 2 Joao Ricardo Vieira arrives in Allentown with two buckoffs in two consecutive events and three of his past four. He will look to turn his misfortunes around against Little Gremlin (4-4, BFTS).

Struggles have also clouded over No. 4 Matt Triplett. The 24-year-old is one for his last 10 and 4-for-17 since the BFTS resumed in August.

In fact, Vieira and Triplett are a combined 8-for-32 on the BFTS since August.

Triplett has a rematch against Legal Tender (8-4, BFTS), who he rode for 86.75 points in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Keep an eye on Fabiano Vieira. The 32-year-old is coming off a 2-for-3 showing in Charlotte and is the defending event champion in Allentown after a 3-for-3 performance last year.

Fabiano Vieira will take on Cooter (0-0, BFTS).

TIER B:  Byrne breezing along just fine

Tanner Byrne is six for his last 10 and is on his best run since a 7-for-10 streak in January. Byrne has finished in third place in two consecutive weeks and will look to keep things going against Air Bender.

Byrne previously rode Air Bender for 84.25 points at Iron Cowboy.

J.W. Harris continues to look poised for a late season run and he is amid a 5-for-7 stretch. Harris almost won back-to-back events last weekend before being bucked off by Lane’s Magic Train in 6.62 seconds.

The May, Texas, bull rider will attempt to keep his good vibes going against Big Dan (0-0, BFTS). Big Dan was ridden by Luis Blanco for 86.5 points last weekend at the Cleveland, Ohio, BlueDEF Velocity Tour event.

TIER C: He can’t make it four in a row, can he?

Brady Sims has faced Americana three times in 2015, and he has ridden him on all three occasions for an average score of 85.92 points. Therefore, you have to think Sims has the advantage in their fourth meeting on Friday night.

Aaron Roy also has a favorable rematch in Round 1 following his 88-point ride on Rusty in Colorado Springs, Colorado. That was Roy’s last BFTS round win and he has since gone just 3-for-18 on tour.

Cooper Davis takes on Crack The Whip (11-10, BFTS), who is ridden almost 50 percent of the time.

This week’s sleeper pick is Douglas Duncan. While it is no secret that the quality of bulls on the BlueDEF Velocity Tour is a tad bit weaker than the BFTS, Duncan went 6-for-6 in his last two BlueDEF events.

Duncan doesn’t need a win this weekend to help his push toward qualifying for World Finals, but a qualified ride or two could be beneficial for him.

He faces Gonzo (1-1, BFTS).

BULL POWER: Little Red Jacket and Smooth Operator get one more out

World Champion Bull contenders Little Red Jacket (44.32 points per out this season) and Smooth Operator (44.7) will buck for the last time until the World Finals during the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

Other potential bulls to consider selecting include Boot Jack (44.45), Who Dey (44.31), Walk Off (44.3) and Mississippi Hippy (44.07).

Check out Slade Long’s In the Bull Pen for more possible selections.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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