In the Bull Pen: Iron Cowboy

By: Slade Long
February 17, 2017

Pearl Harbor highlights the rank pen that awaits the riders who make it past Round 1. Photo: Andy Watson /

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Iron Cowboy in Arlington, Texas, is the second of four PBR Major events this year, and this particular event should not be missed if you like seeing the best bulls in the world.

Arlington is typically one of the best if not the single best event each year for overall bull power. It’s better than the Built Ford Tough World Finals in many years because there usually only 50-70 outs here, and PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert doesn’t have to reach any deeper than the best 50-70 bulls he can find to fill the pens. By comparison the World Finals uses twice as many bulls, and it’s fair to say that Arlington essentially features the top half of what you will see at the World Finals.

The competition format here is set up so that 40 riders are entered, they all get on in Round 1, and whoever stays on advances. In each subsequent round, the riders who stay on advance, until one man is left or the maximum of five rounds has played out.

At a standard Built Ford Tough Series event, the long round bulls are more or less similar in quality, and the short round bulls are a step up, but there are only 15 of them. Here, Round 1 is the closest thing we will see to a normal BFTS long round, except most the bulls drawn in Round 1 are usually short rounders most of the time.

All rounds past Round 1 will draw bulls as needed out of a numbered pool of animals. The Top 5 animals in this pool are Pearl Harbor, SweetPro’s Bruiser, SweetPro’s Long John, Smooth Operator, and Jared Allen’s Air Time. The pool is 38 animals deep, and they are ranked from the top down as Lambert sees it. The top bulls on the list will be the first bulls drawn in Round 2, and that means the second round will knock any pretenders out of this competition. The pen of bulls starts strong and immediately jumps to the strongest it can be. Riders who survive Round 2 will find it somewhat smoother going in Round 3 and beyond.

Some of the bulls already set for Round 1 include Walk Off, Magic Train, Rodeo Time, Kookaburra, Cooper Tire’s Brown Sugar, and Lifting Lives – all bulls we usually see in short rounds.

Round 2 starts with Pearl Harbor and the rest of the Top 5 mentioned above, and will include Gangster’s Wildside, Stone Sober, Hey Jack, Seven Dust, TLW’s Big Cat, Brutus, Jack Shot, Spotted Demon, Mystical, and the list goes on. Depending on how the competition plays out, it’s likely the bulls near the bottom of the pool won’t be used, but that’s the way it is with this format. You can count on the bulls you do see being world class from top to bottom.

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