By: Justin Felisko
January 31, 2016
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Here are three things we learned from the Anaheim Invitational this weekend at the Honda Center.
Robson Palermo continuing his comeback season
A year ago, Robson Palermo was leaving the Honda Center knowing he had been cut from the Built Ford Tough Series.
This year, Palermo is leaving the same arena knowing he is in the hunt for his first World Championship.
Palermo finished the Anaheim Invitational 3-for-4 for a second-place finish with 400 world standings points on Sunday afternoon.
The three-time World Finals event winner won the Built Ford Tough Championship Round with a season-high 89.5-point ride on Dream Catcher.
“He turned back to the left right there and I remember Eduardo Aparecido got on him on the first night (for 87.25 points),” Palermo said.
The ride earned him 100 of his 400 points and helped him finish third in the event average for an additional 180 points.
Palermo nearly won Round 1 on Friday night and Round 3 on Sunday with his 88.5-point ride on Cooper Tires Brown Sugar and 87.25 points on El Capitan. Instead, he finished second in both rounds for 120 world points.
The 33-year-old is 10-for-14 (71.43 percent) and has two second-place finishes in the past three BFTS events. He only had 10 qualified rides the entire 2015 season (16 BFTS events). He also has placed in the Top-5 of seven BFTS rounds this season.
Palermo, who finished 2015 32nd in the world standings, is now ranked third in the world and trails world leader Paulo Lima by 250 points heading into next weekend’s Sacramento Invitational.
“I am happy. I know I haven’t won an event yet, but I am happy I have been Top 5 the whole time. I need to make points. The race is still a long way to go and I still feel good and my body is somewhat healthy.”
Lima retakes world lead from Joao Ricardo Vieira
Lima and Joao Ricardo Vieira traded back-and-forth blows atop the world standings this weekend, but it was Lima making sure he left the Honda Center back on top.
Lima rode Cooper Tires Brown Sugar for 87.75 points to finish the event a perfect 4-for-4 and third overall with 295 points.
“That is a good bull,” Lima said. “I watched Palermo ride him on Friday and I knew I could ride him.”
Lima selected Chad Berger’s bull with the third pick in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round draft after remembering coming up just short (7.11 seconds) against Brown Sugar at a 2013 Touring Pro Division event in Duncan, Oklahoma.
The 28-year-old retook the world lead from Joao Ricardo Vieira after losing the No. 1 position on Friday night during Round 1.
Lima saved his best performance of the weekend for Sunday as his ride aboard Brown Sugar helped him finish second in the event average behind winner Tanner Byrne for 240 of his 295 points. He placed third in the championship round for 55 points.
The left-handed bull rider rode Strong Heart for 82.25 points in Round 1, Redbone for 84.25 points in Round 2 and Snowed In for 78.5 points in Round 3.
Lima leads Vieira by 150 points heading into next weekend’s Sacramento Invitational.
Rounding out the Top 5 of the world standings are Palermo, Wallace de Oliveira and Fabiano Vieira.
“This is good,” Lima said. “I am happy to be No. 1.”
Byrne wins first BFTS event; Davis wins two of four rounds
With his childhood friend Josh Manson, and the majority of the Byrne family in attendance, Tanner Byrne won his first career BFTS event by riding Doc Mosely for 86.5 points to cap off a perfect 4-for-4 weekend.
“It feels great,” Byrne said. “I feel like it has been a long time coming. I have come close quite a few times and never really sealed the deal. I had a good feeling about Anaheim with everything we have been doing here. The Honda Center feels like home.”
Byrne came into the championship round in second place after previously riding Tequila Sun Rise (81.5 points), Boo-Ray (81.25 points) and Set ‘em Up Joe (86 points) in the three long rounds.
The 23-year-old placed fifth in Round 3 with his ride on Set ‘em Up Joe for 30 world points.
He earned 500 of his 530 points by claiming the event average title.
Rounding out the Top 5 in the event was Palermo, Lima, Cooper Davis (215 points) and Eduardo Aparecido (200 points).
The 530 world points moves Byrne to sixth in the world standings after beginning the weekend 33rd.
Davis did the bulk of his damage by winning Rounds 2 and 3 this weekend.
He won Round 2 with an 87.25-point ride on Big Enough and Round 3 with an 88.25-point ride on Mortimer.
Davis is tied with Palermo, Gage Gay and J.B. Mauney for the BFTS lead in round wins (2). He has begun the season 4-for-8 and is up to 16th in the world standings after making his season debut in Oklahoma City.
The 21-year-old continues to grasp at his surgically repaired right riding wrist after each ride, but says he just needs to keep fighting through it.
“Well, I took another jerking on it,” Davis said. “It is something that is going to be aggravating and it is going to be aggravating until it works itself out. I will fight through it for a minute.”
Davis has appeared to be more aggressive throwing his free arm than during his rookie season.
“It is a little bit of being behind today and having to throw a few Hail Marys,” Davis said. “I kind of got it under control a little bit and threw a money shot in there.”
Four-time PRCA champion J.W. Harris did not compete Sunday after spraining his right elbow in Round 2 on Saturday night.
Harris plans to see an elbow specialist on Tuesday to get fitted for a brace.
According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Guilherme Marchi did not compete in Round 3 after sustaining a left hip pointer and a left rib sprain in Round 2. He is probable for Sacramento.
Kasey Hayes did not compete in the championship round after separating his right shoulder (free arm) when he landed on his shoulder during his 3.27-second buckoff against Cowtown Slinger. He is questionable for Sacramento.
Robson Aragao sustained a concussion when he collided with No Regrets during the championship round. He is also questionable for Sacramento.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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