By: Justin Felisko
October 22, 2016
TUCSON, Ariz. – Here are three things we learned from Round 1 of the Cooper Tires Take the Money and Ride, presented by the Ak-Chin Indian Community, on Saturday night at the Tucson Convention Center.
The twists and turns of the 2016 world title race continued Saturday in the Grand Canyon State.
Kaique Pacheco was the only rider in the Top 5 of the world standings to post a qualified ride, and the No. 2 bull rider in the world has a chance to gain ground on world leader Cooper Davis during the final day of the regular season Sunday.
Pacheco rode Johnny Bones Jones for 81.5 points to finish 14th in Round 1 on Friday night, while Davis (6.93 seconds on Houdunnit), J.B. Mauney (2.15 seconds on Mister Mean), Joao Ricardo Vieira (5.76 seconds on Stars and Stripes) and Jess Lockwood (2.05 seconds on Currey Creek Mudslinger) all bucked off their respective bulls.
“I am very happy,” Pacheco said with the help of Silvano Alves translating. “My ride was good today. I rode this bull one time before and he bucked me off. I was in perfect position tonight and felt really good.”
Pacheco earned no world points, but he will head into Round 2 a full bull ahead of his fellow World Champion contenders.
He is 167.17 points behind Davis in the world standings.
There were 15 rides in Round 1.
“I know this is just one night,” Pacheco said. “My job is to keep riding straight and ride one bull every night. I need to stay on all of my bulls.”
Pacheco has drawn Just Juan (4-2, BFTS) for Round 2.
The 22-year-old nearly won this event last year, going blow-for-blow with Mauney in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round and ultimately finishing second in the event.
Pacheco knows it is important to head into the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals with momentum.
“It is very important, this event, because it is the last event before Finals,” Pacheco said. “God is helping me all the time. I am riding good every night and every bull. I just need to stay on all of my bulls.”
Pacheco added that he will not be competing at the BlueDEF Tour Finals.
Pozzobon wins Round 1 with best ride since the 2014 World Finals
Ty Pozzobon wasn’t sure if there was enough time to make the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals when he returned to bull riding in May following a series of injuries that included multiple concussions, a collapsed lung and a broken femur.
Pozzobon’s main objective in May was simply to win the 2016 PBR Canada championship, which he wound up accomplishing last weekend.
The 24-year-old has since shifted his focus toward qualifying for the World Finals and his 87.25-point ride on Old Crow in Round 1 has him well on his way.
“L.J. (Jenkins) texted me what I had and (said) I was going to owe him a beer after the ride and I guess I do,” Pozzobon said with a laugh. “That thing is pretty nice.”
Pozzobon’s best ride since the 2014 World Finals (87.5 points on White Lie) earned him the round victory and 100 world points. More importantly, the 100 points pushes him 163.33 points ahead of No. 36 Fraser Babbington.
The No. 32 bull rider in the world standings missed the World Finals last year and hadn’t competed on a BFTS event since then until two weeks ago in Nampa, Idaho.
“I didn’t start until May and I didn’t even know if the World Finals was even in the question,” Pozzobon said. “My goal at the start of the year was to win a Canadian title and make the World Finals.”
He is thinking even bigger now following his first round win since Jan. 3, 2014 when he rode Alternator for 88.25 points at Madison Square Garden.
“My whole goal was to check that Canadian title off my list and I got it now,” Pozzobon said. “Now I am going to win the World Finals. A world title is out of reach right now.”
Pozzobon went 1-for-2 on Friday in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the Touring Pro Division event and finished tied for fifth.
Pozzobon understands he has work to do between now and the Finals, including the BlueDEF Tour Finals, if he hopes to become the first Canadian rider to win the World Finals.
“I can tell my nerves are still up adjusting to being back here,” Pozzobon said. “I know I can ride the rank bulls. I have been here and rode them before. I just need to calm down and believe in myself.”
He will face Flyin Crazy (7-2, BFTS) in Round 2.
Bubble riders keep race tight at the bottom of the world standings
Pozzobon wasn’t the only bubble rider to come through in Round 1, which is why he isn’t completely out of the race to qualify for the World Finals just yet.
No. 33 Nevada Newman and No. 35 Jorge Valdiviezo both reached the 8-second mark as they fight to stay above the BFTS cutline heading into next weekend’s BlueDEF Tour Finals.
Newman tied for third-place in the round with Mason Lowe (86 points on Redneck) by riding Back in Black for 86 points.
They earned 45 points toward the world standings, which moved Newman up one spot in the world standings.
Newman leads No. 36 Fraser Babbington, who earned zero points at the Portland, Maine, BlueDEF Tour event, by 102.5 points.
“That was a lot. I need points for sure,” Newman said. “I am in a critical spot. I knew I had to come in here and ride my bulls. I came in here with the mentality of I have nothing to lose. I am on the getting cut point. I came in and gave it my all, and I need to do that every time.”
Newman is trying to qualify for the World Finals for the first time.
“My goal coming in this year was to make the PBR World Finals. I started off real good and everything was rolling good,” Newman said. “I then got in a slump and that is part of bull riding. I had to work my way out of it and not go insane in the process.”
Meanwhile, Valdiviezo is trying to hang on for dear life at No. 35.
Valdiviezo rode Reaganator for 83.5 points, but finished 10th in the round and earned no world points.
“It is not too bad,” Valdiviezo said. “He didn’t buck really good with me. I was just 83.5. This didn’t help a lot, but, of course, it made me happy to do my job because my family is here. I just try to stay focused on my next one and tomorrow make up the points.”
The 27-year-old leads Babbington by five points and didn’t lose his No. 35 ranking to any riders that competed in Portland.
The additional good news for Valdiviezo is that he is in position to earn points in the event aggregate standings.
He has drawn Cracker Jack (5-5, BFTS) for Round 2.
Valdiviezo is trying to not let any outside pressure from back home in Mexico or internally affect his bull riding.
“I feel better,” Valdiviezo said. “I need to think jump for jump because if I put pressure on me, I will have a lot of stress. A lot of people in my country follow me. A lot of people here in the States. A lot of people in Mexico believe in me. That gives me confidence in my job, but I try to keep my mind fresh and do my job.”
According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Luis Blanco partially dislocated his right shoulder (free arm) in the chute as he was pulling his rope. He was unable to take his ride and is questionable for Round 2.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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