The opening round of the World Finals features the ABBI Classic contenders. These are the top 3- and 4-year-old bulls we’ve seen compete all season. A World Championship and a big payday is at stake for them as well. Several of these bulls are short round quality performers.
In the rider’s World Championship race, current leader Joao Ricardo Vieira out-drew his competition in this round. But, they’ve all have to get on and nod their heads. Anything can happen.
Emilio Resende on 991 Crystal Pistol:
Crystal Pistol has been ridden in his last two outings, and he likes to go to the right. He spends a good bit of time in the air, and he has good timing. All of this is good for Resende — this bull should fit him perfectly, but Resende sometimes has trouble converting on bulls that should be a good fit for him. If he can get the whistle here he’s likely to get a good score. Resende isn’t a particularly small guy, but he gets great scores out of bulls, and this one has potential.
Matt Triplett on 1149 Pearl Harbor:
Triplett wowed the crowd on the opening night of last year’s World Finals, and he’s got an opportunity to do it again, and possibly win the round on this bull. Pearl Harbor was here in Vegas last year, but he bucked at the South Point with a dummy on his back, because he was winning second in the ABBI futurity finals. He gets a lot of air, and has good kick, and in his only Built Ford Tough Series appearance he impressed the judges. They marked him 44.75 points with Marco Eguchi in Thackerville, Oklahoma. With that kind of performance here, Triplett could easily win this round if he can hang on.
JW Harris on 79 Jo Jo:
Harris is the kind of guy who could do some damage here. He’s no stranger to this arena, and he’s relatively unaffected by added pressure. This bull is just what he needs to get started. Jo Jo has been ridden just once in 10 outs, and that was by Harris for 86.75 points in Thackerville. That kind of score isn’t likely to win a round here, but it will put Harris one up on most of the riders here after Round 1.
Renato Nunes on 091 One Shot:
Nunes hasn’t done very well down the home stretch of the season. Over the last eight events he had five qualified rides in 19 outs. But, when riders don’t do well, drawing bulls that don’t really fit them is always part of the problem. This bull should fit Nunes perfectly. One Shot goes to the left, and he can be pretty showy. Nunes makes every bull look his best, and he’s likely to get a good score here.
Josh Faircloth on 43X Magic Train:
This is an interesting matchup in one way. Magic Train is one of the more difficult bulls out in this round, mostly because he tends to be wild and unpredictable. Faircloth isn’t a guy who rides every bull with the greatest of ease, but he’s not into falling off either. He tries hard, and he is good at recovering when he gets out of shape. This bull gets every rider out of shape, and it will take someone who can deal with that to ride him.
Ryan Dirteater on 626 Karaoke:
Dirteater drew well here. The best bull to have is always a bull whose level of difficulty is lower than his scores might suggest. Karaoke is 1-4 against left-handed riders, and he produces an average score of 89.25 points. It would be hard to find a better draw in this pen.
Valdiron de Oliveira on 58X Long John:
Long John is one of two bulls in this round that may at some point compete for World Champion bull honors. Margy Time is the other bull. Long John has serious up and down. He was ridden by JW Harris in Springfield, Missouri, for 87.5 points, but that was without question the most difficult 87.5 point ride made this season. Oliveira had him in Fresno, California, earlier this year and came down in 2.4 seconds. You won’t see a bull tonight that gets more air, drop and kick than this one.
JB Mauney on X18 More Big Bucks:
Mauney made an outstanding ride on this bull in Thackerville for 88 points. Mauney hasn’t had the best of luck recently, but this is the kind of bull that might turn that around. More Big Bucks goes to the left about as hard and fast as he can go. He evens out and gets nicer as the ride goes on, and the difficult part will be right when the gate opens. There have been a couple of years when Mauney went 1-for-5 at the PBR Finals, but even with that his riding percentage here at the Finals is 62 percent — higher than his career riding percentage.
Stormy Wing on T08 Slappy:
These two met in Springfield, and Wing went 6.19 seconds before coming down. This bull is less-traveled and less known than a lot of the others in this round, but he could be something of a sleeper. He’s earned very high marks everywhere he’s been. He hasn’t given up a qualified ride yet, but if Wing can get the best of him here it’s likely to be big.
Top 5 Riders:
Mike Lee on 029 Back Jackin:
This bull has given up just one qualified ride, but he hasn’t faced a rider as good as Lee in his 12 career outs. Expect Lee to get the job done here. This bull likes to go to the left, and he doesn’t look exceptionally difficult. He may not be enough to win a round on, and Lee could use some high scores, because he has ground to make up in the points race. He needs to place or win in some rounds.
Guilherme Marchi on 59Y Flyin’ Crazy:
Marchi has a decent draw here, but this won’t be an easy score for him. Flyin’ Crazy will go out a few jumps and spin to the left pretty hard, which isn’t Marchi’s favorite. This is a good bull though — he can deliver a high score. Renato Nunes was 89.5 points on him in Laughlin, Nevada. Marchi can’t afford to let any of the few remaining opportunities slip away, and he needs a score on every bull regardless of what they do.
Silvano Alves on 95X Dumber:
Alves is in an interesting situation lately. His riding percentage has dropped significantly since his World Championship seasons, and his approach has changed as well. He’s still as talented a rider as we’ve seen in the PBR, but he seems intent on trying to back into a third title. His two previous titles were simply the result of him dominating the competition by outriding everyone else. It was a more effective strategy than what he’s doing now. In the title race this year, his biggest advantage is that Fabiano Vieira is riding with a fairly serious injury. He’s been turning in more scores than his competitors down the stretch, but his scores haven’t been great. He’s left a lot of potential points on the table – more so than last season when he was caught from behind at the finals. He came into last year’s finals leading by 538 points, and this year he’s behind by nearly the same amount. He’s certainly capable of riding every bull here, but if doesn’t put up some big rides this week, his best hope is that the two Vieiras completely self-destruct, and that isn’t likely to happen.
In this matchup, he’s up against some serious competition. Dumber is one of the better bulls in this round. He goes to the left, and he’s thrown Alves before — in Fresno this season in just 1.86 seconds. In 2011 and 2012 it was never safe to bet against Alves, but if this bull has his day the odds are with the bull. Given that many bulls underperform with Alves aboard, this matchup is closer to a push.
Fabiano Vieira on -2X Savage:
Pop quiz: Who has been the most consistent rider on tour this season? It’s this guy. He’s ridden 57 percent of his bulls to Alves’ 52 percent. They both trail Joao Ricardo Vieira, Fabiano because he’s missed time due to injury, and Alves because of his lower scoring rides. Fabiano may be the best rider in the PBR at this time. Without the injuries it would be no contest. He’s got a shot at an opening round score here. Savage likes to go to the left, but in August and September he faced Renato Nunes twice and threw him both times.
Joao Ricardo Vieira on 32Y Bruiser:
No matter what kind of strategy the World Championship contenders employ, they may not have much effect when the guy in the lead draws like this. This is without a doubt the marquee matchup of the night. Bruiser is as good a bull as we’ll see in this round, and he’s everything a rider could want. Every left-handed rider here and a lot of the right-handed ones really hoped to draw him in this round, and Vieira has him. On top of that, they’ve met before. Vieira won the opening round in Thackerville on Bruiser with 88.75 points. Vieira had a great draw in Huntington Beach last week and let it get away. Any slight mistake will cost him on a bull as good as this one, but expect a big score here.
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