Well, it is no secret by now who the hottest rider on the Built Ford Tough Series has been through two events. Silvano Alves heads into the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden for his first-round matchup against Big Sleazy having ridden each of his past 19 bulls on the BFTS. He leads the PBR’s top tour with six qualified rides for an average score of 85.71 points.
Alves hasn’t slowed down away from the BFTS either, as the defending World Champion went 3-for-3 at this week’s Touring Pro Division Finals in Denver.
If you want to go against the grain in Tier A, Reese Cates looked strong at the Touring Pro Division Finals by going 2-for-3 to bounce back from his rideless performance in Chicago last weekend. He has drawn Ballistic, who has been ridden in two of his three BFTS outs for 85.25 points by Cody Nance and Lachlan Richardson, respectively.
Of the five riders listed in Tier A this week, Matt Triplett is the only one that did not compete at the TPD Finals due to press obligations in New York.
In Tier B, Shane Proctor comes into New York as the early-season, feel-good story of the PBR. Proctor missed all but one BFTS event last year due to two shoulder surgeries and bounced back this season with five consecutive rides before bucking off against Yo Yo last Sunday.
He has a Round 1 date with Blue Gangster, who didn’t compete on the BFTS last year and averages just 40.29 points per out.
Nance may be poised for a good weekend in New York, based on his finish in Denver. Nance became the first rider to conquer Margy Time in 30 professional outs at all levels, finishing 3-for-3 to garner third place. Nance has ridden 4-of-6 bulls on the BFTS in 2015. However, he is averaging only 84.47 points per ride on the BFTS this year.
He is set to face Santiago in Round 1. Friday night will be the bull’s first BFTS event since last year at Madison Square Garden, where Joao Ricardo Vieira rode him for 85.75 points. After that, Santiago bucked off nine riders that finished outside of the Top 35 of the 2014 world standings in non-BFTS events.
Keep an eye on Ryan Dirteater this weekend. The 25-year-old has had a good start to this year; however he spent plenty of his time in Denver this week icing his left riding hand. According to Dirteater, it is the same injury that hindered him last season and cost him the final two regular season events.
Brady Sims is an under-the-radar prospect in Tier C. The second-year BFTS rider is 4-for-6 this season, but falls into Tier C because of the new points system. Therefore, Sims can provide fantasy rosters a jolt from the bottom tier. He is averaging just 82.38 points per ride and will attempt to make 8 seconds aboard Sodbuster.
J.B. Mauney, a three-time winner in New York, always carries the potential for a breakout weekend and he has a familiar rematch in Round 1 against Electric Prune. Mauney previously rode the bovine athlete for 88.25 points in Nashville, Tennessee, two years ago.
A potential sleeper pick in New York may be Stetson Lawrence. The 26-year-old finished last year with at least one ride in every second-half BFTS event except for one, and seemed to be adjusting to competing on the BFTS on a weekly basis. He faces Guns & Donuts in Round 1.
Raven Flyer is set to make his 2015 debut and begins the season with a consecutive buckoff stream of 26 riders (18 on the BFTS) and averages 43.21 points per out on the BFTS. He will tangle with Nance in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
Stanley FatMax is also back for his third consecutive event of 2015 and has bucked off 19 consecutive riders. He is averaging a career-best 44.36 points per out this season and awaits Marco Eguchi in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
Pound The Alarm will be bucking for the first time this season when he takes on Joao Ricardo Vieira in the 15/15 Bucking Battle. He averages 44.06 points per BFTS out.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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