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In the Bull Pen: San Jose

By: Slade Long
October 14, 2016

Smooth Operator is trying to earn a World Champion Bull wild card position. Photo: Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com.

Smooth Operator is trying to earn a World Champion Bull wild card position. Photo: Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com.

The San Jose Invitational, presented by Ariat, will kick off on Saturday in San Jose, California. Over two days, we’ll see roughly one hundred different bulls compete. California-based contractors will be responsible for almost one-third of the bulls at the event. North Dakota’s Chad Berger is bringing 41 bulls, and Oklahoma’s D&H Cattle Company will have 14 on hand, so roughly every other bull out of the chute will belong to either Berger or D&H.

The 15/15 Bucking Battle on Saturday night will feature 10 bulls from Berger, three from D&H, and one apiece from Julio Moreno / Dallas Schott and Rob Smets / Kevin Loudamy. A handful of bulls in the 15/15 round have a stake in the World Championship Bull race, which is all but set for this season.

Fans can watch the 15/15 Bucking Battle Sunday on CBS national television at 5 p.m. ET (check your local listings).

Berger’s Asteroid has eight outs on the season already and is currently tied for 21st place in the standings. He needs to be in the Top-7 to automatically qualify, and he needs to make up a 7.25-point deficit to get there. The good news for Asteroid is that his lowest score this season is 40.25 points, and that is the score that would be dropped and replaced by his score here. The bad news is that he needs at least a 47.5-point score here to take over seventh place, and while he’s capable, that will be hard to get. He last scored that high in 2012 – his World Championship year.

Even if Asteroid is able to come up with a 47.5-point effort, he could still come up short.

D&H Cattle’s Stone Sober will face Kaique Pacheco in the 15/15 Bucking Battle, and this will be his eighth out on the season. A 46.5-point out here would move him from 83rd place to seventh place in the qualifier standings. Stone Sober can put up big scores, but he hasn’t done it this season. He is a possible spoiler in the race, though. At the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals, Stone Sober was not in the group of bulls competing for World Champion, but he outscored all the bulls that were in the running, including Bushwacker.

Berger’s Smooth Operator only has five outs on the season, so he won’t qualify on points, but a big performance here could solidify his shot at a wild card berth. When he’s at his best, he may be more difficult than any bull in the race, and he can put up huge scores.

D&H Cattle’s SweetPro’s Bruiser is the No. 1 bull in the qualifier race. His best eight outs total 367.25 points – an average of 45.91 points per out. He’s 12 points above the seventh-place bull. Bruiser has 12 outs on the season, so his matchup against Ryan Dirteater is a chance to pad his total with zero risk of losing his number one spot. None of the bulls close enough to catch him will be in San Jose.

Jeremiah, owned by Rob Smets, is one of the least talked about bulls in the World Championship race. He’s certainly a long shot to win it because his bucking style doesn’t lend itself to high scores. He’s one of the most difficult bulls to stay on in the PBR right now. He would need a 46-point out to move into seventh place in the standings after San Jose.

Berger’s Boot Jack has been near the top of the qualifier race all year, but he’s slipped to 17th in the standings and is 5.25 points out of seventh place. Because of the number of quality scores he’s earned this year, the lowest score he could drop is 43.25 points, and that leaves him needing a 48.5-point out here, which is highly unlikely.

Some of the 15/15 bulls may come back in Sunday’s championship round in San Jose, and that could change things for them in the World Championship qualifier race. If most of them don’t get a second out here, look for the San Jose championship round to be light on bull power, creating a good chance for riders to get points.

Over the last couple of weeks, riders have ridden just below the season average of 32 percent. They should do better than that in San Jose, but they should have in Eugene, Oregon, two weeks ago and didn’t. Riding percentage as a whole is at an all-time low in 2016 so far, but this pen of bulls should drive that number up.

The Built Ford Tough Series last came to San Jose in 1997. The top bull at that event was Flying U’s Whitewater. In Round 2 this weekend, Jess Lockwood will get on one of Whitewater’s grandsons. Quite a few bulls here this weekend can trace their bloodline back to Whitewater.

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