Smooth Operator Gets Revenge on Marchi; TLW’s Big Cat Named Top Bull

By: Justin Felisko
February 26, 2017

Smooth Operator has bested Guilherme Marchi in three of their five meetings. Photo: Andy Watson /

ST. LOUIS – Here are three things we learned following the Bass Pro Chute Out, presented by Cooper Tires, this weekend at Scottrade Center.

Smooth Operator gets revenge on Marchi; TLW’s Big Cat named top bull (2-26-17)

The rivalry between Smooth Operator and 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi continued on Sunday afternoon with the two athletes squaring off for the fifth time in the past three years.

Marchi came into the Built Ford Tough Championship Round matchup having selected Smooth Operator with the seventh pick in the bull draft.

However, Marchi could not win the grudge match as Smooth Operator faded toward the center of the arena dirt before slamming Marchi off his backside in 6.52 seconds.

“That bull is strong today,” Marchi said. “He bucked hard. I tried to stay under my rope all the time, but I can’t. He moved forward and strong, strong all the time. I thought I was going to catch him, but I don’t. He bucked me off.”

Smooth Operator has won three of five matchups against the 34-year-old.

“This bull has been here for a while and nobody has covered him, but me and Mason Lowe,” Marchi said. “I have a lot of respect for this bull. He has been good for a long time here in his career and guys don’t ride him too much. I take my hat off for him. I tried hard today, but he bucked me off. He had a lot of good kick and spin, but he was too strong.”

Earlier in the day, Marchi rode Dirt Road for 81 points for career ride 589. He is 11 rides away from becoming the first rider to reach 600 rides at the BFTS level.

Meanwhile, TLW’s Big Cat was named the YETI “Built For The Wild” Bull of the Event after bucking off Matt Triplett in 1.71 seconds for an event-best 45.75-point bull score.

The score is also a career-high for Big Cat, who is 22-1 against Built Ford Tough Series competition.

Big Cat has the third highest-average bull score (44.92 points) on the BFTS in a small sample size of three outs.

Pacheco becomes first to ride Lester Gillis and earns the victory

Kaique Pacheco is not the No. 1 bull rider in the world just yet, but he did something on Sunday that both of this year’s world No. 1 bull riders – Jess Lockwood and Eduardo Aparecido – failed to do.

Pacheco rode Lester Gillis for 88.75 points during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round to cap off a perfect 4-for-4 weekend and earn his first event win of 2017.

The 22-year-old is the first rider in 17 BFTS outs to reach the 8-second mark on the bovine athlete.

Pacheco selected Lester Gillis with the third pick in the championship-round draft.

“That bull was away from my hand and he tried to push himself to the front,” Pacheco said with the help of Guilherme Marchi translating. “My position was so perfect with my legs.”

Pacheco added that his preferred choice for the draft was Cooper Tires Brown Sugar, but Mason Lowe selected Chad Berger’s bull with the No. 2 pick.

Regardless, it all worked out as Lowe bucked off in 3.12 seconds and Chase Outlaw, who had won two of the first three rounds in St. Louis, was bucked off by Bad Beagle in 5.04 seconds.

Pacheco was the only rider to post a qualified ride in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round for his third round victory.

Rounding out the Top 5 behind Pacheco, Outlaw and Lowe was Cody Rodeo Tyler (2-for-4, 137.5 world points) and Matt Triplett (1-for-4, 110 world points).

This weekend is Pacheco’s second victory in St. Louis. He won the first event of his career in 2015 in the Gateway City.

Pacheco is closing in on becoming the third different world leader and regaining for the No. 1 ranking for the first time since last year.

The No. 3 bull rider in the world standings earned 640 points toward the world standings and is within 580 points of Aparecido.

Aparecido finished 1-for-4 and injured his left groin during Round 2 attempting to ride Intensified Clyde.

Pacheco is also competing with a groin injury, but that didn’t slow him down.

He began his weekend with an 85.5-point ride on Hard Times in Round 1. Pacheco then covered Otis and Moto Moto for 82.5 points apiece to head into the championship round right on the heels of Outlaw and Lowe.

“I am very excited to win this event again because when I first come to the Built Ford Tough this was the first event I won,” Pacheco said.

Triplett gains confidence from Outlaw’s performance & wins Round 3

Matt Triplett propelled himself to a fifth-place finish thanks to his 87.25-point ride on Cooper’s Comet, but Triplett wanted to give some of the credit to Outlaw.

“I had a good bull and I have been putting so much damn pressure on myself,” Triplett said. “I just had fun. Just like my buddy Chase. He said, ‘When you are having fun it is the best time in the world and that is what bull riding is. It is about having fun. When you make it a day job you don’t do worth a crap because you are trying too hard. When you stay loose and cool, it is like riding a bike.”

Triplett finished the weekend 1-for-4, but the fifth-place finish is his second consecutive Top-10 finish after placing 10th at Iron Cowboy.

The 25-year-old moves up to 14th in the world standings.

Triplett knows he needs to find a better way to control his emotions and not overthink things on the BFTS.

“I do my best when I don’t think about nothing,” he said. “I just need to keep it calm, cool and collected and have fun. I am my own worst enemy. I know I can ride every bull here and I hate when I put too much pressure on myself because I make myself look like an idiot.”

Injury Updates

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Fabiano Vieira (possible right forearm fracture) and Gage Gay (apparent clavicle fracture) did not compete in the championship round because of injuries in Round 3.

Vieira is questionable for next week’s event in Jacksonville, Florida, while Freeman did not provide a timeline for Gay.

Derek Kolbaba sustained a concussion when he was hit by Bill Bat Skat’s head as he was thrown in 5.68 seconds in Round 3. Kolbaba is questionable for Jacksonville.

Joao Ricardo Vieira aggravated a left shoulder separation in Round 3 attempting to ride Coon Eyes (2.93 seconds). He is questionable for Jacksonville.

Meanwhile, Robson Palermo did not compete on Championship Sunday because of a bruised left rotator cuff. Palermo sustained the injury when he was bucked off by Springer Mt. Stryker in 1.68 seconds in Round 2. Palermo is also questionable for next week.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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