In the Bull Pen: Chicago

By: Slade Long
January 08, 2016

Brown Sugar will be one of the bulls awaiting riders in Chicago.

Brown Sugar will be one of the bulls awaiting riders in Chicago.

The Built Ford Tough Series season kicks off Saturday with the Chicago Invitational in Allstate Arena, and the riders should be looking forward to an event where there are a lot of quality, rider-friendly bulls in the draw. Even the Built Ford Tough Championship Round will feature the kind of short round bulls that riders tend to get along with. This is partly because of which bulls happen to be available to PBR livestock director Cody Lambert right now, and partly because of winter travel considerations. Some contractors are rethinking the way they schedule bulls for the winter run. Chad Berger will work Chicago only, Gene Owen will work New York only, and Jeff Robinson will have bulls at both, but his best bulls will go only to New York.

“I think they’ve seen that that long stressful run in cold weather can affect their bulls,” Lambert said. “Having experienced it, they believe it has caused some bulls to be off not only at New York, but for the rest of the winter. But, there is no shortage of good bulls to fill events right now. It’s the busiest week of the year for me. We’ve got Chicago on Saturday and Sunday, a big Touring Pro in Denver on Monday through Wednesday, another Touring Pro in Pueblo on Thursday, and then New York Friday through Sunday.

The short round in Chicago won’t feature the heaviest hitters in the PBR, but there is a lot of flash in the lineup.

“Chicago will have a good short round,” Lambert said. “We won’t see the superstars there. We won’t see Smooth Operator and Air Time until Oklahoma City. That will be our first really rank short round all the way through. In Chicago we’ve got bulls like Who Dey, Cooper Tires Semper FiBrown Sugar, and Fire Bender. Apollo Stripes and Spotted Demon will be about the hardest-to-ride bulls we’ll see. It’s a short round where we could see 5-7 bulls ridden depending on how it is drawn up.”

Even with four major events across the country in seven days, Lambert has a lot of quality bulls available, and we’ll see a quality pen in Chicago filled with bulls the riders should love. Both long rounds in Chicago feature a lot of matchups that should go the rider’s way, due to a number of rider-friendly bulls.

“The bull market is just flooded right now with bulls that are good to ride,” Lambert said. “There are not hundreds but thousands of bulls that will turn out there and spin and be worth from 20 to 21.5 points. I’ve really noticed that putting together all the events for this week, and using bulls that we see that often.”

The high demand for bulls this week translates to opportunity time for many stock contractors. It’s a chance for them to get more work for their bulls, or in some cases, less.

“I’ll use 300 bulls this week,” Lambert said. “For a lot of the smaller stock contractors, it could really set them up. If their bulls perform well at Denver this week they might get to go to Oklahoma City or the West Coast events coming up. Or, if another contractor’s bull doesn’t do well in Chicago they may not get to go to St. Louis or Kansas City later on.”

Look for the bulls in Chicago to be a good starting point for riders who should come in fresher and healthier than they were at the end of last season.

Follow Slade Long on Twitter @Probullstats

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