PUEBLO, Colo. – Standout rookie Kaique Pacheco may rarely show any sign of frustration or emotion in the arena, but he is quietly one of the most competitive and dedicated riders on the BFTS.
For example, take Pacheco following his 0-for-3 performance in Allentown, Pennsylvania, two weeks ago.
The 21-year-old and current No. 2 bull rider in the world standings only shook his head in disappointment and grabbed his bull rope inside the PPL Center before heading home to Decatur, Texas.
One day later, Pacheco sat on the floor of his room and continuously re-enacted the moves he should have used atop his bovine opponents the previous night in Allentown.
Pacheco relentlessly exercised to make sure he wouldn’t put up another ride-less weekend after experiencing his first one on the Built Ford Tough Series since April.
That determination paid dividends this past weekend as Pacheco didn’t even come close to being thrown to the dirt in Tucson, Arizona, with a 3-for-3 performance that kept the young rider’s world title aspirations alive.
“I was very upset about last week,” he said with the help of Renato Nunes translating. “I bucked off and didn’t do my job. Here, I had a lot more focus because I didn’t want to do the same bad mistake. I am so glad to do good here.”
Pacheco has impressed nine-time World Champion Ty Murray all season long and Tucson was no different.
“He doesn’t change, Murray said. “His movements are very crisp. He is not waiting for something to happen. He knows what is going to happen. He understands the mechanics of bull riding. It is that real confident movement you see. That is how I felt when I rode, especially when you are confident. That is how he rode here and that is how you see J.B. (Mauney) look.”
Pacheco’s commitment to muscle memory has helped him develop into one of the more consistent riders on the BFTS. His 47.22 percent riding average is fourth on the BFTS behind Mauney (58.06 percent), Fabiano Vieira (51.28 percent) and Silvano Alves (48.21 percent).
Along with watching endless videos of his bull rides and opposing bulls, he will spend countless hours on a Mighty Bucky or the floor of his apartment trying to perfect the motions that are needed to make the 8-second mark week after week.
“I tried to forget the last event,” Pacheco said. “I just tried to think about how good I did before to bring the good things back.”
Pacheco trails world leader J.B. Mauney by 1,250 points heading into this weekend’s BlueDEF Velocity Tour Finals in Louisville, Kentucky.
There are potentially 440 points up for grabs for one rider and no one has been as dominant on the BDVT as Pacheco.
Pacheco is 15-for-19 (78.95 percent) on the BDVT and leads the series with three victories. He made his BFTS debut in New York earlier this year because of his first BDVT victory last November in Ontario, California.
He leads the BDVT with 355 points, all of which carried over to his world standings point total, and he is on pace to win the inaugural BlueDEF championship and its $50,000 purse.
Pacheco can also clinch the Rookie of the Year title in Louisville if he outgains No. 2 rookie Cooper Davis by 93 points at the BlueDEF Finals.
He leads Davis in the rookie race by 2,107.5 points and Michael Lane by 106.67 points in the BlueDEF race.
While he is grateful for the opportunity to potentially win the BlueDEF title and Rookie of the Year championship, Pacheco is very much focused on the bigger picture – something that was similarly done by Justin McBride, J.W. Hart and Joao Ricardo Vieira during their rookie seasons.
“I think more about being a World Champion,” Pacheco said with the help of Robson Palermo translating. “It is more important. Velocity I am in first place and I have a chance to be a champion there. Winning all three is important too though.”
If that is the case, does Pacheco consider the season a failure if he comes up short in his pursuit of a world title?
“No,” Pacheco responded. “I am so happy to be here riding and to be in this position right now. If I won, I would be really happy. If not, I am going to work for next year. I am really glad and happy to be working like this and to be in this position right now.”
It is a tough position to be in.
Pacheco, who is ranked No. 2 in the world for the first time in his career, could really use a strong performance in Kentucky to try and chip away at Mauney’s lead in the standings.
His 90-point ride on Compact – the first of his career – on Saturday night in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round nearly had him to within 695 points of Mauney before the world leader countered with 90 points on Mr. Bull.
The 28-year-old has been impressed with Pacheco.
Mauney remembers the pressure of being a young star when he was 20 years old trying to compete against McBride for the 2007 world title.
Mauney finished third in the world that year and he finished runner-up to 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi as a 21-year-old the following season.
“He is not turning loose very easily, that is sure,” Mauney said. “Being 21 and young like him, it takes a lot. Dealing with the cameras shoved in your face when you are in a world title race. I remember being in the same spot as him with McBride and those guys. You get star struck a little bit and you don’t know how to deal with all of it and kind of keep it all separate at the same time. It will be a lot on you and it seems like it doesn’t faze him at all. He is pretty cool, calm, collected and you never see his attitude change at all no matter what bull he gets on.
“He is going to be around for a long, long time.”
Pacheco says he hasn’t felt any pressure this year, and took a long pause when asked if he could pull off a come-from-behind performance like his mentor Alves did last year at the World Finals to try and run down Mauney.
“I am going to prepare myself this week for the Velocity Finals to get more points there and see what happens,” he concluded. “I believe in myself to get to the Finals and make good work there and ride my bulls to catch J.B. and pass him too.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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