PUEBLO, Colo. – Kaique Pacheco is pursuing more than just a World Championship belt buckle.
The 20-year-old from Itatiba, Brazil, is chasing history.
Never before in the PBR’s 22 years of existence has a rookie won the prestigious gold buckle.
Current world leader Joao Ricardo Vieira came close in 2013 with a third-place finish in the world standings, but he also wasn’t 20 years old like Pacheco.
It is partially what makes Pacheco’s victory at the Jack Daniel’s Music City Knockout – the last PBR Major of the season – particular so special and noteworthy.
Pacecho’s second career victory not only put him right back in the thick of the 2015 world title race, it also showed he could handle the nerves that come with competing on the biggest stage.
It is a trait that is necessary for any bull rider aspiring to have success at the Built Ford Tough World Finals, which is set for Oct. 21-25 in Las Vegas.
“I dreamed to be here with the best bull riders and be a World Champion too,” Pacheco said with the help of Guilherme Marchi translating. “To win this event, I will get a lot of points to try and win the competition for the world title.
Pacheco previously won the Built Ford Tough Series event in St. Louis, but his victory in Nashville is the first major victory of his young career.
He only went 2-for-5, but he was able to eliminate three Top 10 bull riders in the world standings Matt Triplett (four), Stetson Lawrence (ninth) and Fabiano Vieira (fifth). He also eliminated Aaron Roy and Tanner Byrne.
Pacheco earned 650 points toward the world standings in Nashville and slid up to the No. 3 ranking in the world standings. It is the second time this year he has been ranked third in world standings, but his 707.5-point deficit of Vieira is the closest he has been to the world lead.
He has four Top-5 finishes and eight Top-10s.
Following Pacheco’s first win in St. Louis, nine-time World Champion Ty Murray received some criticism for comparing Pacheco to when he first saw two-time World Champion Chris Shivers compete.
Murray has stuck to his guns.
“Well, I have been looking at him since he first came around,” Murray said. “That is how I felt about him then and that is how I feel about him now. Every now and then you have a rookie come around where you say, ‘Wait a minute, this is no joke.’ Right now, that is what it looks like. It is easy to look back and say that about Chris Shivers and Justin McBride. That is how I feel about this kid because I don’t see anything rattling him and his movement.”
Neither Shivers nor McBride won the World Championship during their rookie seasons.
McBride thinks Pacheco has a chance to do so.
“Man, I am a believer,” McBride said after letting out a big sigh. “When he first came around this season, there was a lot of hype put on him I felt like. OK, sure the kid can ride but let’s ease off on the World Championship and rookie thing in the same year. But to come into an event like this, knowing so much is on the line, to perform the way he did this weekend and then that last ride, that was big to me.”
McBride was referencing Pacheco’s 76.5-point ride on Percolator.
Jeff Robinson’s bull didn’t have his best day, but Pacheco only needed to last longer than Fabiano Vieira’s 1.41 seconds on Sasquatch in the championship round for the win.
Instead, Pacheco adjusted to Percolator’s sub-par out and sealed the victory with a qualified ride.
“You could see it from the second jump he had it knocked out no matter what Percolator did.” McBride said. “Now that to me, coming in and finishing an event when you don’t have to ride and you still want to, now you are talking World Championship-caliber stuff.”
Pacheco said, “I felt tired before I got on the last bull. I just asked God to give me more energy to make whatever his plan is come true.”
What has impressed Murray the most is Pacheco’s fluid riding movement. Pacheco appears at ease for most of the 8-second ride and is able to counter the majority of things being thrown at him.
“It all shows up in his movement,” Murray said. “It is all very crisp and it is all very clean. It is very quick. He is very athletic with great form. He knows exactly where he needs to move to. He doesn’t override or underride bulls.
“I think he is legit.”
Pacheco has been dominant all season long on the BlueDEF Velocity Tour and in the Touring Pro Division, where he has gone a combined 26-for-38.
On the BFTS, Pacheco has now gone 26-for-58 (44.83 percent).
Pacheco said following his victory he is getting stronger as the season progresses even despite the fact that he has nodded his head 110 times this year at various bull ridings.
“I feel stronger and have confidence to ride more bulls,” Pacheco said. “I am physically stronger and mentally.”
Marchi reiterated his belief that Pacheco is indeed much improved since making his BFTS debut at the Monster Energy Buck Off at The Garden this past January in New York.
“The more he gets on, the better he is,” Marchi said. “He is young and he is a professional. He sleeps and takes care of himself. He is young out there, but old in his head. He is so strong and believes in himself. Everything he does, he does for the sport. He is getting better and better.”
As he stood on the dirt of Bridgestone Arena, it was obvious the major milestone victory had yet to set in for the young bull rider.
Instead, he spoke of taking on the next task at hand.
“It is building my confidence a lot to win another event,” he concluded. “I am trying to put everything together to finish strong at the World Finals.
“I want to work harder to earn that dream.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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