By: Justin Felisko
January 22, 2016
THE EXPRESS EMPLOYMENT PROFESSIONALS INVITATIONAL: The Built Ford Tough Series resumes this weekend in Oklahoma City with the Express Employment Professionals Invitational. Don’t forget to set your lineups, and if you haven’t already, sign up now for your chance to win.
TIER A: Palermo’s packing a punch
Robson Palermo has begun the season 5-for-6 through two BFTS events, something he hasn’t done in the past two years.
In fact, Palermo didn’t even reach five qualified BFTS rides last year until April in Billings, Montana.
The three-time World Finals event winner will look to build off his 4-for-4 showing in New York last week when he faces Handsome Jeff (3-1, BFTS).
Joao Ricardo Vieira (3-for-4) nearly won another PBR Major in New York and he will kick off things at Chesapeake Energy Arena with an intriguing matchup against Buck Autism.
Buck Autism is 2-2 on the BFTS and surrendered a 91.75-point ride to J.B. Mauney last year.
World standings leader Paulo Lima went 4-for-4 in his season debut in New York, but only time will tell if he remains a Tier-A-caliber fantasy rider. Lima takes on Losing My Religion (0-0, BFTS).
Wallace de Oliveira has drawn Glory Days (3-1, BFTS), while Valdiron de Oliveira will see Clevenger (0-0, BFTS).
TIER B: Mauney with monster rematch in Round 2
J.B. Mauney takes on Hou’s Back in Round 2 and it has the potential to be another 90-point ride for the 2015 World Champion.
Mauney rode Hou’s Back for 90.25 points at the 2014 World Finals and another 84 points at the 2015 Finals.
He has drawn Jailbreaker (0-0) in Round 1.
Three-time World Champion Silvano Alves got a little roughed up in New York after being slammed by Cochise in the 15/15 Bucking Battle. Alves responded with an 82.5-point ride on Percolator in Round 2 before opting out of the Built Ford Tough Championship Round because of soreness in his left hip.
Alves confirmed Thursday that his hip is doing better and he will attempt to ride Chute Boss (0-0).
Aaron Roy has ridden three bulls in a row for the first time February 2013 and will look to make it four in a row against First Instinct (0-0, BFTS).
Gage Gay has the only rematch Friday night and it is a tough one against Wicked Stick (2-2, BFTS). PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert had Wicked Stick on his preseason watch list.
Gay was bucked off by Wicked Stick in 2.27 seconds last year in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
TIER C: Cates tries to rebound
Reese Cates is off to a slow start in 2016, going 1-for-6 through the first two BFTS events. However, he has a familiar foe in Round 2.
Cates faces Butcher’s Nightmare, who he rode for 87.25 points last year in Oklahoma City. He has drawn L26 (0-0, BFTS) in Round 1.
Eduardo Aparecido also has a rematch in Round 2 against DaNutso.
Aparecido rode the bovine athlete for 82 points in Anaheim, California, last year. He will first have to get past Born in the USA (2-1, BFTS) in Round 1.Fabiano Vieira rode Born in the USA for 85.75 points in Thackerville, Oklahoma, in 2015.
In New York, Nathan Schaper posted his first three-ride weekend since winning last year’s BFTS event in Billings, Montana. Schaper has a potentially good matchup in Round 1 against Rocco (5-0, BFTS).
Speaking of riders with three-ride weekends in New York. It had been exactly a year since Shane Proctor strung together three rides at a BFTS event.
Proctor will attempt to build off his 3-for-4 showing last week against Ms. Kitty’s Peacemaker (1-1, BFTS).
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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