In the Bull Pen: Eugene

By: Slade Long
September 29, 2016

Asteroid's last out came in Springfield, Missouri, against Jess Lockwood. Photo: Andy Watson /

Asteroid’s last out came in Springfield, Missouri, against Jess Lockwood. Photo: Andy Watson /

PUEBLO, Co. – When the PBR’s Built Ford Tough Series kicks off in Eugene, Oregon, this weekend, we’ll see a solid set of bulls with contingents from Texas, California, Washington, Oregon (of course), Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota. By the end of the event, you may get the feeling that most of the bulls here are from North Dakota, and you would be right. Chad Berger is bringing 46 bulls to Eugene, the largest number for a single contractor in at least a decade, if not the entire history of the PBR.

PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert doesn’t typically bring so many bulls from one contractor to any event, and there are good reasons for that. Back when the PBR began, it was common practice at rodeos for one contractor to supply all the stock for the event. Because contractors needed to maintain not only bulls, but bucking horses, and roping steers and calves as well, it was difficult for them to keep a large number of high quality bucking bulls. Most of their bulls would have been considered too weak to appear in BFTS events today.

At the time of the PBR’s inception, critics doubted whether it was even possible to assemble a set of bulls good enough to produce a single event as the founders imagined it. Lambert solved this problem by simply using many different stock contractors, and accepting only the best animals from each. This is the way bulls are selected for BFTS events to this day.

The risk in accepting a large number of bulls from a single contractor is that the deeper you go into one herd, the more likely you are to find bulls that are substandard for BFTS competition. Lambert saw this risk come to realization 11 years ago.

“I did it years ago in Sacramento, and it really came back to bite me,” said Lambert. “I took a lot of Don Kish bulls to Sacramento because they had all done really well at Touring Pro events, and I was having trouble filling up Sacramento. We ended up taking 35-40 Kish bulls there, and in the first round we had 15 re-rides. They weren’t all Kish bulls, but around half of them were. I know I haven’t taken that many from one contractor since then.”

The fact that Lambert is willing to try it now is a testament to just how deep Chad Berger’s herd is right now. He has a large number of bulls that can compete at the highest levels – maybe more than any other contractor has ever had.

Eugene will be a two-day event featuring a 15/15 Bucking Battle on Saturday, and most of the bulls in that round and the short round will be Berger’s.

The Eugene 15/15 Bucking Battle will feature a couple of bulls with a stake in the World Championship Bull qualifier race. Gene Owen’s Cochise and Seven Dust have solidified their claims over the last few weeks, but they will be idle, and Berger’s Crossfire and Beaver Creek Beau will have a chance to answer.

Crossfire is currently in fourth in the qualifying race behind Pearl HarborSweetPro’s Bruiser and Jared Allen’s Air Time. He’s almost sure to qualify, because he has 15 outs on the season, and if he has an off day here it won’t hurt him. Beaver Creek Beau is on the outside looking in, and he needs a big score here to move into the Top 8. Pearl Harbor isn’t on the list for Eugene, but right now he’s the top qualifier, and Berger’s best shot at winning the title at the Built Ford Tough World Finals.

Julio Moreno’s Spotted Demon and Viducic’s Kookaburra will both appear in the 15/15 Bucking Battle, alongside 13 Berger bulls including AsteroidBoot Jack, Smooth Operator, Crossfire, and Beaver creek Beau.

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