By: Justin Felisko
February 25, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – If the $100,000 PBR Major stakes were not already high enough this weekend in Arlington, Texas, it is even higher for a group of riders trying to remain on the Built Ford Tough Series before the BFTS cut happens following the Choctaw Casino Iron Cowboy, powered by Kawasaki.
There are only 50 points separating No. 30 (Rubens Barbosa) through No. 40 (Juliano da Silva) in the world standings which means a multitude of riders can possibly be either in or out of the BFTS in two weeks in Phoenix.
Riders that finished last year 1-30 in the world standings are down to their eighth and final guaranteed BFTS event before draws for BFTS events will be based on the current 2016 world standings and any injury exemptions.
Therefore, Douglas Duncan, currently 32nd in the world standings, No. 34 Ben Jones, No. 35 Nathan Schaper, No. 98 Claudio Crisostomo and No. 161 Reese Cates are down to their last guaranteed event.
Iron Cowboy will award round points to up to 15 riders with a qualified ride per round on the following point scale: (125, 75, 60, 50, 40, 20, 10, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5). The Iron Cowboy event winner will receive 625 world points.
Duncan, who is returning to action from a left calf contusion and broken right fibula, and Claudio Crisostomo (shoulder) are using their final injury exemptions, while Jones, Schaper and Cates are three riders that finished last year inside the Top 30 that are down to their final guaranteed event.
Jones and Schaper used rides in Kansas City last weekend to help their case, but they are right in the thick of a highly-contested race for those final six positions in the draw.
Duncan has a rematch against Yoga in Round 1. He rode Yoga for 85.75 points in Oklahoma City earlier this season.
Schaper also has a rematch in the first round against Going Fast. The Grassy Butte, North Dakota, bull rider rode Going Fast for 86.5 points in New York in January.
Meanwhile, injuries to No. 12 Derek Kolbaba (left riding hand), No. 22 J.W. Harris (elbow surgery), No. 44 Bonner Bolton (broken neck) No. 56 Robson Aragao (broken jaw) and Matt Triplett (elbow surgery) have opened the door for five alternates that are trying to crack or stay inside the Top 35 for next week’s event in Phoenix.
“It isn’t broke Tandy says, so that’s good,” Kolbaba said. “But I guess it is badly sprained, so I am going to give it the weekend and come back in Phoenix.”
Triplett said a follow-up appointment on his surgically repaired riding elbow this week went well and that he will be cleared for action on March 1.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean Triplett will return to the BFTS immediately. He will want to attempt a practice bull and see how things go before making the ultimate decision for Phoenix.
“I have not been able to get on a practice bull and I’m not going to push it to the limit of possibly getting on five rank bulls right out of the gate,” he said. “I’ll get on a practice bull or two and gradually work back into it.”
The five injured riders are being replaced by No. 25 Justin Paton, No. 29 Lindomar Lino, No. 33 Tyler Harr, No. 37 Josh Faircloth and No. 38 Brant Atwood in the draw.
Paton is on pace to earn a full-time spot on tour, while Lino and Atwood are only separated by 45 points in the world standings.
Faircloth and Atwood are making their season debuts on the BFTS.
Faircloth is set to face Grandpa Joe (6-5, BFTS) in Round 1, while Atwood has drawn Texicali (3-6, BFTS). Atwood hasn’t competed on the BFTS since May 2014.
The two riders aren’t the only ones making their season debuts.
Winston Lopez (BlueDEF invite), Cody Ford (BlueDEF invite) and Keyshawn Whitehorse (BlueDEF invite) are all making their season debuts.
Ford hasn’t competed on the BFTS since sustaining a pelvic injury attempting to ride Asteroid at the 2012 event in Thackerville, Oklahoma. He has drawn Sam (2-2, BFTS) in Round 1.
For Lopez and Whitehorse, Saturday will be their BFTS debuts and they have tall tasks awaiting them.
Lopez will take on No Regrets (19-3, BFTS) and Whitehorse will face the 2,300-pound Mississippi Hippy (35-3, BFTS).
No. 40 Juliano Da Silva is in the draw courtesy of his Dayton, Ohio, BlueDEF Tour event victory. Silva finished 16th in his BFTS debut last week in Kansas City.
Reigning Iron Cowboy champion Joao Ricardo Vieira begins his title defense against Jack Daniel’s After Party (46-22, BFTS), who bucked him off in 4.99 seconds at the 2014 BFTS event in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
World No. 1 J.B. Mauney has drawn War Party (7-1, BFTS) in Round 1.
Ryan Dirteater (facial lacerations) is also back for Iron Cowboy after missing Kansas City. He has drawn Ante Up (1-1, BFTS).
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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