Lambert: Smooth Operator and Air Time Lead the Pack

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Smooth Operator and Jared Allen’s Air Time didn’t do anything extraordinary Saturday night, but the two World Champion Bull contenders didn’t hurt their chances at winning the 2015 championship.

Air Time bucked off Matt Triplett – the No. 3 bull rider in the world standings – in a quick 2.37 seconds for a 45.25-point bull score during the Second Chance Bracket, while Smooth Operator dumped Robson Aragao in 3.77 seconds.

PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said before and after the Jack Daniel’s Music City Knockout that Smooth Operator and Air Time were the leading contenders with five regular season Built Ford Tough Series events remaining until the World Finals on Oct. 21-25.

“The real contenders didn’t hurt their chances,” Lambert said. “I’m A Gangster Too was just (.75) points better than Smooth Operator and Air Time.”

I’m A Gangster Too was the high-marked bull of the event with an impressive 46-point showing against Mason Lowe (2.07 seconds).

“I’m A Gangster Too had the best trip,” Lambert said. “I have seen him buck that hard twice before, but it has been awhile since I had seen it.”

Jeff Robinson understands I’m A Gangster Too is not in the running for a World Championship, but he was proud of his veteran bovine athlete with four years and 51 BFTS outs on his resume.

“He has been a World Champion Bull candidate twice and he has won a bunch of bull of the events,” Robinson said. “We have him in the best shape we have had him in in a year and a half. He was really good. He has that in him.”

Air Time was bucking on back-to-back weekend’s for the first time this season and rebounded from his 44.5-point showing in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last weekend.

However, he has still yet to post consecutive 45-point or higher bull scores since putting up a 47-point and 47.5-point score last season in Las Vegas (Last Cowboy Standing against Joseph McConnel) and Tulsa (Kasey Hayes).

Air Time is averaging 45.07 points in seven BFTS outs this year.

Meanwhile, Smooth Operator has posted back-to-back bull scores of 45 points or higher three different times this season. Smooth Operator bucked off Emilio Resende last weekend for 45 points.

Chad Berger’s bull is averaging 44.73 points in 13 2015 BFTS outs.

For now, Lambert has those two at the top of his bull rankings.

“I think it is those two and everyone else,” Lambert said. “If those two slip up, there are about five bulls that can be better.”

One of those bulls is Little Red Jacket, who earned a 45.5-point bull score for downing Cody Nance in 2.64 seconds in the Second Chance Bracket to outscore Air Time and Smooth Operator.

“Little Red Jacket was really good too,” Lambert said. “He was right with them. You have to give him credit.”

Little Red Jacket has posted three consecutive bull scores of 45 points or higher and is averaging 44.4 points in 10 BFTS outs.

Lambert added that he has SweetPro’s Long John sitting third in the race.

“I haven’t seen Long John buck like he did last year quite as often this year,” Lambert said. “I think Long John would be third right now and Little Red Jacket fourth and Roy fifth.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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