Madison Square Garden in New York is one of the most iconic venues in sports history, and it will host the PBR’s Built Ford Tough Series this weekend for the ninth-straight season. New York is one of the most important regular season events for the PBR, because it puts the sport of bull riding in the Garden, in New York and in front of millions of people who wouldn’t otherwise catch a glance of a real cowboy or a whiff of “eau de cattle” in their lives. It’s the single most prestigious venue on tour, and every rider and contractor wants to do well at this event, because as Frank Sinatra said, if you can make it there you can make it anywhere.
This year, New York happens to fall on what might be the busiest week of the PBR season, bar none. The Chicago event ended Sunday, the Touring Pro Division Finale in Denver ran Monday through Wednesday, followed by a one-day Touring Pro event in Pueblo, Colorado, on Thursday. New York kicks off on Friday, while a big ABBI/PBR event happens simultaneously in Fort Worth, Texas. That is a lot of bull riding for one week, and PBR livestock director Cody Lambert is in Colorado at the moment, having set the bull pens at Denver, Pueblo and New York.
We’ll see quite a few bulls that looked great last year get their first out of the 2015 season in New York, and we’ll see the best of the bulls we saw in Chicago and Baltimore join them. There will be a 15/15 bonus round in New York on Saturday, and we’ll see those same bulls back in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round on Sunday, with one exception.
“Buck Dynasty, who I don’t like, will be out in the last round only,” Lambert said. “He’s there because it’s a draft round. The Brazilian riders like him, and the American riders mostly don’t. I wanted him in the draft round so someone would pick him and not draw him. He’s been slinging his head too much, and too wildly, in my opinion, and I’d rather see someone who wants him get on him. He bucks hard enough that I have to give him a chance. I can see him getting cut from the draw for good if he doesn’t straighten out. Bulls can get into slinging their head so much that it takes away from their performance, but there have been a lot of great bulls that had a lot of head movement. It’s just a matter of how much, and we’ve been seeing too much from Buck Dynasty at times.”
Gene Owen’s 482 Raven Flyer will get his first outs of the season in the 15/15 round and the short round in New York. He’s coming in to this season 26-0 in his career, and 18-0 at the Built Ford Tough Series level.
“He had an awful shake and roll move right out of the chute,” Lambert said. “He got a lot of quick buckoffs with that, but a couple of guys got past it, and found out he’s pretty good once he gets into a spin. I think they’ll get him figured out and someone will ride him pretty soon.”
Gene Owen’s 841 Wicked had a long buckoff streak coming into last season, but he was ridden three times in 2014, two of those coming right at the end of the season.
“He’s kind of a weird bull,” Lambert said. “He’s hard to trust 100 percent. Being fresh, I think he’ll be really good here. When Guilherme (Marchi) rode him in May of last year, I thought it was a great ride, and the judges kind of missed it. He disappointed me a little at the end of the year. When he got ridden those two times, he wasn’t really giving it everything he had.”
Pound the Alarm spent his first full season on the Built Ford Tough Series in 2014 after moving here from Canada, and it was a great season. He averaged more than 44 points per out on tour, and wound up the year carrying J.W. Harris to a 90.5-point score and a Round 5 win at the World Finals.
“Pound the Alarm is a bull that gets harder to ride as the ride goes along,” Lambert said. “It takes him 6 seconds to get guys on the ground sometimes, but he does get most of them. Once guys take him into the spin, he usually gets them to the inside of the spin towards the end. J.W. Harris rode him perfectly at the finals. He’s a bull the guys don’t particularly like to get on, and JW made him look like a bull you’d want to get on.
“I’m pretty high on J.W. Harris,” Lambert added. “But I’m really high on Silvano Alves right now. I think he’s going to thrive under the new point system. It’s a huge advantage when you can ride better than everyone else.”
Crack the Whip and Southpaw will also get their first chances of the season, and we’ll see Percolator, Fire Rock, Stanley FatMax, and I’m a Gangster Too back again as well. With all of the better bulls getting two trips in New York, it should be a big event for the bulls.
Follow Slade Long on Twitter @Probullstats
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