By: Justin Felisko
March 07, 2016
PHOENIX – Julio Moreno stared out into the back pens inside Talking Stick Resort Arena on Sunday afternoon with a look of shock and awe on his face.
With his wife, Kindra, by his side, Julio wiped his eyes and stared at his World Champion Bull contender Roy in disbelief.
Tears began to slowly roll down both of their faces.
Roy had just bucked off 2015 World Finals event winner Cooper Davis in 2.43 seconds for a career-best 46.5-point bull score despite sustaining two broken front legs during the out.
If any bull was going to fight against the odds on Sunday afternoon, it was always going to be Roy.
The two-time World Champion Bull contender had made a name for himself since debuting on the Built Ford Tough Series in 2013 for having the biggest heart in the BFTS bull pen, and the final out of his career was one based upon heart and passion.
Nothing was going to stop him from disappointing his owners, and nothing ever would have left them disappointed regardless.
The Morenos loved Roy, and, sadly, they lost a large piece of their own hearts on Sunday evening.
Julio Moreno Bucking Bulls elected to have Roy put down following the Ak-Chin Invitational after consulting with a local veterinarian in Buckeye, Arizona, because of the bull’s lower leg injuries.
“Truthfully, I am all mixed up right now,” Julio said late Sunday night while beginning his drive home to Oakdale, California. “I don’t know when he did it, but I know that bull tried 110 percent every time and he went out trying 110. We met the vet here (at bull housing) and he said we had to put him down.
“He came to buck and it just so happen that some bulls do that and it happens.”
While the decision to lay their bull to rest was a hard one, the Morenos knew it was the right one.
“We love Roy and knew that it would be in his best interest to ease his pain,” Kindra wrote on Facebook. “These bulls are incredible athletes and loved by our family, friends and fans. We cannot thank the many of you who have reached out to us during this very difficult time.
“He went out on top, doing what he loved to do best. He was our little engine that could.”
Roy concludes his career with a 17-3 record on the Built Ford Tough Series and an average bull score of 44.93 points per out.
He had competed at the past three Built Ford Tough World Finals and finished runner-up to his half-brother, three-time World Champion Bull Bushwacker, for the 2014 World Championship.
Roy was expected to contend for the 2016 World Champion Bull title this coming November at the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals in Las Vegas.
“PBR is fully committed to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of each bovine athlete in our sport, and we take every precaution to prevent injuries to our valued athletes,” said PBR CEO Sean Gleason. “Bull riding is a dangerous sport, yet injuries to our animal athletes are extremely rare, especially when compared to injuries sustained by our riders. Yesterday, Julio Moreno’s bull Roy suffered a freak injury that required euthanization. We extend our sincere condolences to Julio and Kindra, as well as the entire PBR fan base and extended family as we say goodbye to one of the greats in our sport.”
THE LITTLE MONSTER IN OAKDALE
At times, you could say Roy was the brat on Moreno’s Oakdale, California, ranch.
Roy had finished one point behind Bushwacker for the 2014 World Champion Bull title and had developed quite the attitude about all of the attention Bushwacker had received during his farewell tour.
It didn’t bother Roy one bit that Bushwacker was bigger than him or that he had won more championships than he did.
Roy was a fighter. His motor never stopped and he wasn’t going to let Bushwacker boss him around on the ranch.
Roy felt it was time for him to be the king of the ranch. Roy’s philosophy was that his older brother had called it a career, so if Bushwacker had a problem with it, then so be it.
The two even got in a harmless fight less than two weeks after the 2014 World Finals.
“He is like that bad cat that goes to the bar underage and arm wrestles with his friends and then gets in a fist fight,” Moreno said in 2014. “Someone breaks a bottle over his head and he walks it off like, ‘Dude, what happened there?’”
Bushwacker was the legend, but Moreno began to develop a special affection for the scrappy little Roy. Roy was different than Bushwacker. He was an underdog. He was the kind of bull that led to a rejuvenation in Moreno after the retirement of the king.
Over the past two years, Roy became less of a brat and a bigger part of the family.
“It really made me feel good the past couple of years when Kindra would come up to me and say he hears your voice,” Moreno recalled Sunday night. “He would then think, ‘Let me eat or drink.’ I could call him, and she could too, from five pens a way and he would look up like, ‘Hey, I am over here.’”
Roy enjoyed giving Moreno fits by not eating correctly on the road or refusing to drink any of his water.
Moreno had to go beg Roy to drink his water last year during the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals and the bovine superstar refused to eat any of his grain at times during the 2014 World Finals.
Moreno would have to walk over to his buddy and say, ‘Come on, Roy’ and Roy would bend his head down and take a big gulp of water before walking to the side of his pen.
This weekend though. Roy was a saint.
“To top it off, of all weeks, he rode in the trailer like he wanted to come and play,” Moreno said. “He ate all of his food, he drank his water, I fed him.”
It was another sign that Roy, who would have turned 7 years old on April 1, was making the next step in his career, believed Moreno.
“He was maturing,” Moreno said. “He won second to Bushwacker and I thought I am retiring Bushwacker, but that is OK, I am going to have Roy. I thought I had to get him big because here is Long John coming on Bruiser. Here are all of these other bulls.”
‘HE WAS UNREAL TONIGHT’
In classic Julio Moreno fashion, the Californian stock contractor was nervous in the moments leading up to the beginning of championship Sunday.
Phoenix was set to be Roy’s third out of the season, and he knew Roy would have to bring it if he was going to outperform 2016 World Champion Bull contenders Jared Allen’s Air Time and 2012 World Champion Bull Asteroid.
“I know there are some power hitters there (in the World Champion Bull race),” Moreno said. “I knew Air Time, Long John and the other guys were going to be in competition this year.”
For whatever Roy lacked in size, he made up for in heart.
Literally though, Roy made up for his lack of size with a wicked spin and agility inside the arena that sometimes led to him fading towards the center of the dirt.
Roy went out with brute strength this weekend instead of fading gracefully toward the center of the arena.
Davis wasn’t even given a chance to anticipate Roy’s famous fading action as he was slammed to the dirt in seconds.
“He was unreal tonight in that trip,” Moreno said. “He was awesome. He bucked. All that happened there. In a sense, it made me and Kindra feel good that Cody Lambert was speechless. He couldn’t talk or tell me. He more or less took his hat off and told me that was a good bull. He was going to win it today. Even doing what he did, he still stuck out.”
The PBR’s Director of Livestock said after the Ak-Chin Invitational that it was a tough loss for the sport.
“That is about as bad as I have ever seen,” Lambert said. “It is extremely rare, but it [bull injuries] can happen. If you have livestock, there can be injuries to the people and the stock. Roy has had a great life. He’s been a really rank bull and has always been treated well. Our thoughts are with him right now.”
Davis shook his head in disappointment in the minutes after the out.
The reality of the situation had struck a chord with him.
“It is one of those things that sucks,” Davis said. “You never want it to happen to any of them, but when you have one that is great like that, it kind of hits home to you. I know it hits home to Julio. That was a great bull and always honest. It was a freak accident. There is nothing anyone could have done about it.
“He went out with a bang.”
The only bull that topped Roy in Phoenix was Air Time, who was marked 47 points for his 2.24-second buckoff of Joao Ricardo Vieira.
However, Scharping’s thoughts were first and foremost with the Morenos.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Julio and Kindra,” he said. “That is heartbreaking. People don’t realize the blood sweat and tears we put into these animals. They are like children to us. When you get one that is just not feeling quite right, it is heart wrenching for us. When you see something like that, you have to know it can happen at any time. To see that happen on a bull that is that great is absolutely heartbreaking. It makes you sick to your stomach. It is a horrible deal.”
World leader Shane Proctor added, “Man, he was just snappy and electric and had so much kick and suck back. He would fade all the way across the arena. That is one thing that made him really unique. How much he faded. It is crazy and it is a shame.”
Reigning Stock Contractor of the Year Chad Berger left the arena shaken by the incident.
“Roy was a superb animal athlete who gave it his all every time,” Berger said. “It’s a sad day for me and my heart pours out to Julio and Kindra. May Roy go to greener pastures and buck ‘em off.”
THE BEGINNING OF A SPECIAL CAREER
Roy made his 2013 BFTS debut in Thackerville, Oklahoma, with a 4.87-second buckoff against Stetson Lawrence, but it was at the 2013 World Finals where Roy made his first big splash.
He and Cody Nance teamed up for an 89.25-point Round 1 winning ride at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“It breaks my heart to see that bull go down like that,” Nance said before pausing. “He is my favorite bull. I wish I could have picked him today. It breaks my heart for Julio. It is a terrible thing. My friendship started with him in Vegas and I was 89 on him and won the first round in 2013. That bull didn’t know nobody and nobody knew him.”
However, even Nance knows what really put Roy on the map for good.
The duo met again 11 months later in Laughlin, Nevada, and Roy showcased his spinning ability and Sonic the Hedgehog speed by leaving the left bucking chutes and needing only 6.93 seconds to fade toward the completely opposite side of the outdoor arena at the Laughlin Events Center.
Roy was marked 45.75 points for the performance, the second of seven consecutive 45-point or higher bull scores for the bovine athlete.
Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray to this day calls the out of the best he ever saw.
“The first time I saw that bull was in Laughlin, Nevada. He had probably the most impressive trip I ever had seen a bull have,” Murray said. “I was doing the TV and I was like, ‘Whoa.’ He was, man, what a great bull.”
Nance was bucked off one more time by Roy when Moreno’s superstar was marked a previous career-high 46.25 points during last year’s Last Cowboy Standing.
The Paris, Tennessee bull rider said, “I always wanted to ride him again because I wanted to be them big points, not only because I deserved it on him the first time, but because he deserved to be marked 90 for as hard as he tried. With every out he had, he never held back.”
Roy was marked 45 point or higher 12 times in his career.
Murray added that Roy’s performance on Sunday with everything that happened only augments Roy’s legacy.
“I have been around this sport my whole life and I have probably seen millions of bulls buck, and I have never seen anything like that,” Murray said. “I know it just gives you a really, really sick feeling. It is hard to believe that something can be such an amazing, powerful athlete and can do things athletically, and that something like that can even happen. To have been around this sport my whole life, I have never seen anything like that.
“I will never forget the first time I seen him and the last time I had seen him. I will remember those outs forever.”
‘THIS WAS PROBABLY GOING TO BE HIS YEAR’
Roy’s 46.5-point outing was tied for the second-best in the PBR this season.
The news of Roy’s being put to rest struck a chord with the other two riders in PBR history to have recorded a ride on the talented athlete.
Fabiano Vieira was the last rider to cover Roy, doing so for 90.25 points in Sacramento, California, in February as he won his second BFTS event of the season.
“He is the best bull,” Vieira said. “It is a bad loss for the PBR. He is one of the best bulls and was in competition for the World Championship this year.”
Eduardo Aparecido was the second rider to make the 8-second mark on Roy and almost helped him upset Bushwacker for the 2014 World Championship. Aparecido rode Roy, who was marked 46 points, for 93.25 points during the championship round of the 2014 World Finals.
“For me, he was the best bull right now,” Aparecido said with the help of Silvano Alves translating. “He was in the running for a world title and was the best bull in the world. All the time, he would post high scores. 44-45-46 points all the time. He was a consistent 45 points or higher. I am sorry he broke his leg. It is not good to see it end that way.”
Alves and 2004 World Champion Mike Lee were the only two World Champions to attempt Roy and both were unsuccessful.
Alves lasted 4.61 seconds in the championship round of the 2015 World Finals, while Lee made it until the 6.85-second mark at the 2014 BFTS event in Sacramento.
“He is one of the rankest bulls in the PBR,” Alves said. “Not just this year, but for two years. I am mad he broke his leg because I like this bull. I wanted to ride him one more time.
“We at the PBR want to support Julio. He brings good bulls and has good bulls at home, but no one is like Roy. It is so hard to take Roy (away). Roy is like Bushwacker. He was so hard. God bless him.”
Moreno has some young up-and-coming bulls on the way, but he explained that none are of Roy’s caliber just yet.
Like Bushwacker, Roy was one of a kind.
“This was probably going to be his year and he was going to stand up against everybody and give them competition,” Moreno concluded. “He will be missed. He is real special and he will be a bull I always think about.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2016 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.