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The Morning Line: Louisville, Day 1

This event is a last chance for guys to move up in the standings. It will pay out half the average points that a Built Ford Tough Series event would pay, and 80 percent of the round points. Each round pays 80 points to win, and the average win here will pay 200 points.

It’s not likely that guys at the top of the standings will be able to make up much ground on current leader J.B. Mauney, because Mauney has a 1,250-point lead on second place Kaique Pacheco, and Mauney is entered here. At the other end of the standings, 40th place Tyler Harr is less than 200 points behind 33rd place Robson Palermo, and every guy in between them will compete here as well. That’s where real movement is possible this weekend.

Brady Sims on 943 Beer Nuts:

Beer Nuts has been around for a while, and he’s only given up five rides in his 26-out career. He has only given up one ride to a left-handed rider, and none of these numbers particularly favor Sims except that Sims was that one left-handed guy who did get a score on this bull. They met in the summer of 2014 at a Touring Pro Division event in North Dakota. Sims is one of the guys on the bubble. Right now he’s in, but he could be passed here easily.

J.B. Mauney on 75 Back in Black:

Mauney should have an easy time here. This bull will lock into a spin, probably to the left, and he will have rock solid timing. Mauney has drawn a lot of good bulls down the stretch, and this is another one. He’s a guy who doesn’t need a bull that completely fits him, and when he gets one it’s almost a guarantee he will stay on.

Neil Holmes on 309 Gas Pedal:

Holmes needs to rack up points at this event to have a shot at the World Finals. He’s on the outside looking in right now. Gas Pedal should not present much of a problem for him. This is a bull that tends to spend a little time setting up each jump, and while this negatively affects his timing, it leaves riders with a big window to recover every jump if they get out of shape. This may not be enough bull to help Holmes get some points in this round unless they just don’t ride many bulls.

Michael Lane on 1275 Joe the Grinder:

Lane is right on the bubble, and he’s got the perfect bull for his situation. Joe the Grinder should spin into his hand, and he’s an easily enough bull to win the round on. This bull won’t be easy, but Lane’s season could come down to whether he’s able to stay on right here.

Joao Ricardo Vieira on 275 Lil Waspy:

Vieira has spent a lot of time at or near the top of the standings this season, and he deserved it. He’s a talented rider, he looks good on bulls, and gets great scores from the bulls he stays on. His shortcoming is that he needs to draw bulls that fit him, and he hasn’t been doing it. Most PBR riders are in the same situation, and it’s not a knock on Vieira, except when you begin to think of him as a contender for a World Championship. Then you have to compare him to Mauney, Alves, McBride, Moraes and others who have won it before, and none of those guys are as sensitive to what they have drawn as Vieira is. No matter what they draw they usually win. Vieira hasn’t quite reached that level yet. The bull he has here, from what we know about him, doesn’t fit Vieira well.

J.W. Harris on 22 Say I Won’t Gunslinger:

No one has really kept pace with Mauney down the stretch, but Harris has been the closest. He’s been riding very well, but for the last few events Mauney has been outdrawing him. That has happened again here. Mauney has a bull that should be dead easy for him, and Harris has a bull he can ride, but one that may not be a perfect fit for him. Gunslinger has given up just five rides in 21 career outs, and he has been better for left-handed guys. He’s likely to spin away from Harris’s hand. Harris should be favored here, but not by as much as Mauney is favored over his bull.

Ben Jones on 114 Munster Man:

While this bull has a respectable record, I don’t think he can get rid of Jones. He can spin either way, but he’s not terribly hard to ride in either direction. Going to the left, away from Jones’ hand, is his only shot. Jones is getting close to the end of his career, and the sport of bull riding needs younger riders to look up to him not for dance moves, but for his fearless attitude. Even when Jones draws way over his ability he’s never out of it because he never believes he is.

Cody Nance on 0R21 Honda Rancher:

This bull has never been up to the BFTS level, but he has been a pretty solid Touring Pro-level performer. He’s given up a number of rides, mostly to right-handed riders, and he hasn’t faced many top-tier riders. He’s the kind of bull that most of the top PBR riders should handle with no problem. He’s probably going to spin away from Nance’s hand here, but don’t look for that to be much of an issue.

Ryan Miller on -9 Circle City AND Dustin Ratchford on 118 Longmire:

These are the two guys who got here via the Bucking Madness reality series. They both earned their shot, and they will both face prototypical BFTS long round bulls here. These are two bulls that any Top 10 PBR rider would be hugely favored against regardless of which direction they spin. Circle City has been ridden six times in eight BFTS outs, and Longmire is 0-1 on the BFTS, and 1-4 against the top-tier riders he has faced. Both of these riders have a great chance to make the whistle and keep the dream of qualifying for the World Finals alive.

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