ESTES PARK, Colo. – The last 10 days had been quite the uneventful and disappointing road trip for Gage Gay.
Gay had been struggling to make the 8-second whistle and he hadn’t even been able to record a ride that was scored better than 80 points.
Quite frankly, the 20-year-old was ready to head home to Staley, North Carolina, by the time he arrived at the Estes Park Fairgrounds on Monday.
However, that was before he learned that he had drawn Brutus during the long round of this week’s Bulls in the Rockies Touring Pro Division event.
That added jolt of energy boosted Gay to one of his best rides of the year as the second-year pro rode the tough-as-nails ABBI Classic 4-year-old for 91 points to win the TPD event Tuesday night.
“It has been on my mind all day just thinking that I had a really rank one and what I could do to ride him,” Gay said. “I am just glad my plan worked out.”
Brutus has had the tendency to go right out of the bucking chute, but he surprised Gay by turning to the left.
The shock wasn’t enough and Gay was able to handle the rising bovine star with relative ease. It is the second time in 17 professional outs that Brutus has been ridden. Kaique Pacheco was the first rider to make 8 seconds on him when he picked up 89.75 points at the Built Ford Tough Series event in Kansas City, Missouri.
“He had a lot of rear and a lot of kick,” Gay said. “If you leave the box in time with him, as long as you stay where you are supposed to be, it is easy. I watched some videos of him and in every video I had seen he went right, so when he went left it kind of surprised me. It worked out so I am not complaining.”
Josh Faircloth pulled Gay’s rope for him and said that his buddy was much more focused than usual.
“Man, when he gets his mind set and wants to do it he looks like that,” Faircloth said. “He has all of the mechanics to ride bulls, but his head just messes with him a little bit. You will have that at a young age. After having such a good rookie year like him (last year) and thinking everything is just going to fall in place he had to back up and go back to square one. I believe he done it.
“His confidence has to be through the roof right now after riding one like that.”
Gay’s score held up as the highest-marked ride of the two-day event as no rider was able to put together a two-ride performance. Gay was bucked off by Kinda Crooked in the championship round that featured a torrential downpour.
Gay beat out Mason Lowe (87 points on Sketchy Bob), Dillon Tyner (87 points on Billy The Kid), Alexandre Cardozo (87 points on Come on Baby) and Jimmy Tubbs (79 points on Curly).
The win – Gay’s first TPD victory of 2015 – moves Gay from 25th in the world standings to 23rd
Lowe earned 25 points for splitting second and third with Tyner and he moves past Renato Nunes for 20th in the world standings.
Cardozo earns 15 points toward the world standings as he tries to hang on to his 35th spot.
Tuesday was Gay’s first 90-point ride since covering Myspace for 90 points at the Big Sky, Montana, TPD event last summer.
“It’s been a long time since I was 90 and it felt good,” Gay said. “It makes you want to go out and do it again.”
Stock contractor H.D. Page didn’t think Brutus had one of his better outs, but he said that the ride should hopefully kick any lazy habits that Brutus may have developed by getting the best of his opponents normally.
“He may need that sometimes,” Page admitted. “I don’t think that was his best day, but he was good. He was kind of going through the motions there a little bit. These bulls are smart, especially after they have been bucked some. They know when they don’t give it 100 percent. When they don’t give it 100 percent, it is nice that one of these guys will keep them honest.”
Brutus was actually calm in the chutes as Gay prepared to tie his hand in. It was unexpected because for most of the evening Brutus was aggressively pacing back and forth in his pen.
“He didn’t give me no trouble, which is surprising,” Gay said. “I was really surprised when he stood there really good.”
Gay knows that Brutus has an outside shot at the 2015 World Champion Bull title, but he thinks the future is brighter for Page’s young bull.
“He is obviously just a young bull and is in the Classic events,” Gay said. “He has a lot more years to go and he is looking good.”
Bruiser, another stalwart of D&H Cattle and Company, bucked off Thad Newell in the long round.
“That bull is a handful,” Newell said. “I don’t know if I have been on a bull that bucky in a while. He is really smart and if you move over there he is going to go the other way. You better eat your Wheaties before you get on him.”
Page added, “He was really good. I think Thad had seen him on TV and he kind of cheated him over there to the left and he just left himself there.”
Page believes that there is still another level of potential for Bruiser and Brutus to reach.
At only 4 years old, Page said it isn’t uncommon for bulls to enter their primes at the average age of 5 or 6.
“They can get bigger and stronger,” Page said. “That is the deal. When those bulls get big and strong and they get to their maximum weight or their mature weight, some bulls slow down and some don’t. You never know how those work until they get there. Those bulls that get to weighing 1,700-1,800 pounds and are still breaking over and kicking like a young bull, they compete at a high level. Those are your bull of the year contenders.”
Page, whose bull Landshark took home the futurity title in Estes Park, said he is indecisive about his July plans for Bruiser and Brutus. He ideally would like to get the two bulls qualified for the National Finals Rodeo, but it is a matter of scheduling and getting things in place quickly.
Meanwhile, Gay said his summer plans are shifting some now that he has decided to withdraw from the Calgary Stampede because of travel issues. He hopes to compete at the Salinas, California, BlueDEF Velocity Tour event on July 15 after taking the next two weeks off.
“Hopefully this ride can just start a streak, and hopefully I keep rolling with it until the end of the Built Ford Toughs and into the World Finals,” Gay said.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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