By: Justin Felisko
March 13, 2017
PUEBLO, Colo. – SweetPro’s Bruiser just stared off into space Saturday night inside Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
The 5-year-old bovine athlete barely blinked and hardly moved for 15 minutes inside his pen behind the bucking chutes 4 hours before he was set to compete during the Bad Boy Mowdown.
Bruiser just stood like a prizefighter, unfazed by the bulls wrestling in their pens around him or the pre-event pyro testing taking place.
The reigning World Champion Bull flexed his chest high into the air, patiently waiting to see who would test their luck against the superstar animal athlete later in the evening.
There have been 16 different World Champion Bulls in the PBR’s previous 23 seasons, and D&H Cattle Company has raised the last two champions in Bruiser and the late 2015 World Champion SweetPro’s Long John.
“(World Champions) have to buck big,” Dillon Page said. “That is a crazy word, I know. When they buck big, they get way off the ground. They have a lot of kick and they have wow.”
Page’s SweetPro’s Bruiser was big – and he was the best – this past weekend at the Bad Boy Mowdown in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
Joao Ricardo Vieira appeared on his way to an event-winning trip aboard Bruiser before the brown bull ripped Vieira’s rope from out underneath his left-riding hand when he jerked back toward the right at the 6.49-second mark.
“He is a hard bull,” Vieira said. “He bucks good. He bucked me off easily. He didn’t feel stronger when he turned back. He is just fast. It is OK.”
“Really, big strong jumps.
Bruiser was marked 46 points for the buckoff.
“Outstanding trip for Bruiser,” CBS Sports Network commentator J.W. Hart said on air. “He is back in the World Championship mix.”
The No. 2 bull in the World Champion Bull standings is now tied with Pearl Harbor for the most 46-point bull scores through 10 weeks of the season.
Bruiser has posted back-to-back 46-point bull scores after bucking off 2012 PRCA champion Cody Teel at Iron Cowboy.
“He is one of the best bulls,” Page said. “He may not be the best, but he is one of them.”
Hart had correctly predicted Bruiser’s out right as the gate opened.
“Everybody knows he is going to start out to the left, but when he goes back to the right that is where he’s got a big kick,” Hart said.
Bruiser was ridden at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo by Roscoe Jarboe for 91 points a few weeks ago after a similar trip.
“He was around to the left and went to the right,” Page said. “He bucked hard, but they just rode him.”
Bruiser has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo the last two seasons.
“We will try to get him to the NFR again,” Page said. “He will get his eight outs on him and that is all we will try to do.”
Bruiser and Pearl Harbor have quickly separated themselves from the rest of the pack and have been jockeying for bull dominance all year long.
Bruiser has bucked off five consecutive riders since being ridden by Derek Kolbaba for 92 points in Oklahoma City.
D&H Cattle Company went nine years without winning a PBR World Champion Bull title before Long John won the crown in 2015.
They had last won it in 2006 with Mossy Oak Mudslinger.
“It had been a long time, and we really had some really good bulls, but we never had the really good one that was able to,” Page said. “We finally did. It has been real, real special.
“I always said we won Stock Contractor of the Year several years, and we worked hard to do that, but Bull of the Year is different. That means you have one bull. Whether it was when they voted and they thought he was the very best or now when they go by the scores.
“Still, he proves to be the best in somebody’s eyes.”
So what was harder? Winning those six Stock Contractor of the Year titles or raising back-to-back World Champion Bulls with his son H.D.?
“If you would have asked me that two years ago, I would have said, ‘Yes,’” Page said. “But now we have won World Champion two years.”
Bruiser may make it three in a row for D&H Cattle Company and become the fourth back-to-back World Champion later on this year at the 2017 Built Ford Tough World Finals in Las Vegas.
“To me, the World Champion is one that gives it all he’s got every single time,” Page said. “He has to be the best, but who knows who the best is.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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