By: Justin Felisko
January 29, 2016
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Here are three things we learned following Round 1 of the Anaheim Invitational on Friday night.
Joao Ricardo Vieira takes over world lead with ride away from his hand
Joao Ricardo Vieira has received his fair share of criticism for struggling to ride bulls away from his hand, especially last year during his pursuit of his first world title.
Because of that flaw in his riding ability, Vieira has been considerably flying under the radar this season despite an extremely hot start to the Built Ford Tough Series.
Vieira may not be so unnoticed following his 87.5-point ride on Swashbuckler in Round 1, which pushed him back into the No. 1 ranking in the world standings for the first time since last September.
Not only did Vieira remain calm inside the bucking chute as Swashbuckler tried to thrash him into the chute protectors, but the fourth-year BFTS veteran didn’t even blink an eye as Swashbuckler turned right leaving the bucking chutes away from his left-riding hand.
“Ah, I liked it,” Vieira said. “That is a good bull of Chad (Berger’s). Congratulations Chad. His bull was good and it was a good score. I am relaxed mentally. When they are good bulls, it is easy (going to the right). Bulls that are 44-45 bull score is hard. Me, I am just trying to be a cowboy.”
The ride placed him third in the round and earned him 50 points toward the world standings. Previous world leader Paulo Lima finished tied for 16th in the round with an 82.25-point ride on Strong Heart.
Vieira spent the final 15 weeks of the 2015 season ranked either first or second in the world.
He will head into Round 2 with a 20-point lead on Lima, and he takes on Wired Crazy before facing Air Marshall in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
Vieira leads the BFTS with 11 qualified rides in 13 outs and has ridden six consecutive bulls.
“I am very happy to be back,” Vieira said. “I need to stay relaxed and ride good bulls. Get good scores and do good all year.”
Palermo and Harris bounce back from injuries; Harris reveals need for hip surgery
Robson Palermo was left staring at the Honda Center ceiling last year knowing he had been cut from the BFTS. So far this season, and this year in Anaheim specifically, things are going a lot different.
Palermo continued his hot start to 2016 by riding Cooper Tires Brown Sugar for 88.5 points to finish second in the round for 60 world points.
The No. 4 bull rider in the world standings missed the Built Ford Tough Championship Round in Oklahoma City because of a lower back injury. He had also sustained a left ankle injury last week.
To make matters worse, Palermo was grimacing and walking with a limp after his original bull – Jump Street – slammed his right leg inside the bucking chutes.
“It is good,” Palermo said. “My first bull was bad in the chute and he got on my right knee there a lot. I forgot my left one because so much stuff. I am just happy I got Brown Sugar on the re-ride. I had wanted to get on this bull because I have seen him buck a lot. When I got the re-ride, I said, ‘Man, that is my chance.’
“When you ride your bull and get a score, you forget everything. When you buck off, you start thinking about everything.”
Palermo is 8-for-10 on the BFTS this year. It took Palermo until Sept. 12 to get his eighth qualified ride last season.
“Last year, whoa, I don’t even want to talk about that,” he said. “It was horrible for me. Those last three years were bad. This year, so far, has been really good. God has been helping me and my family.”
J.W. Harris rode Little Man for 84.25 points in his first action since sustaining multiple injuries attempting to ride Mishap two weeks ago in New York. Harris tied with Mason Lowe (84.25 points on Minion) for 13th in the round.
“Well, it always feels good when you don’t get hit in the head or something,” Harris said. “I felt good. That little bull turned back and spun. I feel a little sore, but that is part of it.”
However, during his week away from the PBR, Harris learned he will need to undergo hip surgery at the end of the season.
“It is getting to where I pull my groin all the time and it hurts to walk,” Harris added. “So I figure I might as well go get them fixed after the PBR Finals.”
Harris said he will likely no longer pursue qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo so that he can get the surgery done ASAP and not miss too much of the 2017 Built Ford Tough Series.
“I will be out four months,” Harris said. “I went and saw Dr. Tandy (Freeman) and he said I should get it done before I am screwed and need a hip replacement.”
Derek Kolbaba, who missed last week’s Built Ford Tough Championship Round with a concussion, also rebounded with a qualified ride in Round 1 after Harris pulled his bull rope.
Kolbaba rode Bottoms Up for a career-high 87 points to finish the round in fifth place.
“That was a good bull, kind of strong, right around the left into my hand,” Kolbaba said. “I just kept throwing my knees up and it worked out.”
Kolbaba earned 30 points toward the world standings to move into a tie for ninth with Mike Lee, who was bucked off by Deep Water in 4.65 seconds.
Friday was the first time Kolbaba had Harris pull his rope. Kolbaba grew up rooting for Harris when he was winning his four PRCA bull riding titles.
“It is pretty cool,” Kolbaba said. “J.W. is somebody a lot of people look up to, including myself. It is always good to have somebody that is at that level to pull your rope. If you followed the PRCA, J.W. was in the mix of it. The guy has rode great for a long time.”
Oliveira wins first career BFTS round
Wallace de Oliveira continues to check goals off his career checklist even if he is a 36-year-old rookie.
Oliveira won his first career BFTS round by riding Cash Ya Out for a career-high 89.25 points.
“That bull almost hit me on the first corner,” Oliveira said with Guilherme Marchi translating. “When he turned to the right, he started to move a lot and was very strong. When I finally sat in the middle, I was able to help and spur him a little bit.”
Oliveira earned 100 points toward the world standings to move from fifth to third. He trails Joao Ricardo Vieira by 300 points.
Eduardo Aparecido finished fourth in the round with an 87.25-point ride on Dream Catcher for 40 world standings points.
Cody Nance (86.25 points on El Guerro) and Marchi (86.25 points on Yahoo) tied for sixth in the round for 10 world points.
J.B. Mauney said he would be OK after getting stomped on by Jeremiah during the final out of Round 1.
Jeremiah was marked 44.5 points for bucking off the two-time World Champion in 3.45 seconds.
According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Reese Cates is questionable for Round 2 after sustaining a concussion when he was slammed into the out gate by Big Cat in 2.57 seconds.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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