By: Justin Felisko October 13, 2014@ 08:00:00 PM
ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Having one of the top picks in the bull draft for a Built Ford Tough Championship Round can sometimes be a daunting task for riders because it forces them to choose which bull they would like to face. In some cases, riders rather not have to make that decision.
For Fabiano Vieira, the No. 2 rider in the world standings, there was no question that he wanted to have the top selection on Saturday night in Allentown.
Vieira’s pursuit of his first career world title has been affected by his unstable right shoulder throughout the second half of the Built Ford Tough Series. Therefore, in some instances he has had to even withdraw from the championship round, doing so in Oakland, California, and Thackerville, Oklahoma.
That is why in the second round of the Cooper Tires Take The Money and Ride event at the PPL Center, Vieira was OK with accepting his re-ride option following his 74.25-point ride on Peanuts.
Vieira knew he had a favorable matchup against Alternator, but, more importantly, he knew he wanted to get on Who Dat in the championship round. He had previously won three BFTS events (2014 New York, 2012 Indianapolis, 2011 Hartford, Conn.) aboard the K-C Bucking Bulls bovine athlete, and knew that if he could get on him again this weekend he would have a very good chance of earning the victory and make up some significant ground in the world standings.
His hunch was right.
He rode Alternator, who he also rode for 88.5 points at last year’s Louisville, Kentucky, BFTS event, for 87 points in Round 2, before sealing his second victory of the season by riding Who Dat for 85.5 points.
Vieira nearly cut world leader Joao Ricardo Vieira’s lead in half and he now trails Joao Ricardo Vieira by 511.63 points heading into Saturday’s Monster Energy Bulls on the Beach 15/15 Bucking Battle in Huntington Beach, California. The event will be broadcast Sunday on CBS at 3 pm. ET.
“It is so close to Finals that I need concentration,” Fabiano Vieira said. “I am relaxed. If you have first pick for the short go you have your choice of 15 bulls. It is good to pick. This is the fourth time I have rode Who Dat to win.”
Fabiano Vieira averages 87.63 points per ride aboard Who Dat.
CBS color commentator and 1994 PBR Rookie of the Year J.W. Hart said Fabiano Vieira was aware of the opportunity to get a higher score based on favorable matchups. Hart also explained that Fabiano Vieira took advantage of a weaker bullpen than normal in Allentown.
“Well, he had to win,” Hart said. “He knows he is behind. The bulls are set for him here as weak as they were and if he is going to make up ground he is going to have to do it now. He couldn’t wait until tomorrow. Now he has to go to California and do good and draw one of those bulls into his hand and get the whistle and try and keep pace with them.”
Fabiano Vieira has had to not only adjust his riding style physically during the last portion of the season, but he also has put a greater emphasis on getting favorable matchups for his shoulder in the championship round. Not only in terms of a bull’s spin, but also in terms of how easy it will be for him to dismount a bull.
He currently leads the BFTS with a 57.75 percent riding percentage.
“I accepted the re-ride because I thought (Alternator) was a good bull and I rode him before one time and I (knew) I could go into the short go in second or third if I rode him,” Fabiano Vieira said. “I need to ride good bulls to win the event.”
It will be the biggest storyline involving Fabiano Vieira next week at the Built Ford Tough World Finals. Will his shoulder be able to withstand five consecutive days of bull riding? He will only be able to select his bull for two rounds, as the other four will all be draw-based.
Fabiano Vieira said his shoulder is continuing to get better, especially with the help of Brazilian physical therapist Felipe Garcia, who is planning on being at the World Finals.
Garcia even helped stretch Fabiano Vieira’s shoulder this weekend in Allentown.
“He helped me 100 percent,” Fabiano Vieira said. “He works on it every day.”
Hart believes Fabiano Vieira is confident, but he still isn’t sure if the rider truly trusts his shoulder.
“I don’t know if he really has the confidence in his shoulder,” Hart said. “I know he does in himself. The difference between the bulls at Las Vegas is going to play a big factor in how he holds together.”
Fabiano Vieira’s toughness and effort over the eight second-half events has impressed Hart.
“I am pulling for him,” he added. “He goes about it the way I like to see guys go about it. I am not rooting against anyone, but the guys that put forth the effort and the try and the fortitude and the attitude and the strategy to go try and win it, instead of waiting for somebody else to lose it, I pull for.”
One person that has always been in Fabiano’s corner has been his wife, Jilian. Fabiano Vieira credits her with keeping him relaxed and confident despite his injury this season.
She joked with him last week that she wanted to get a new pair of cowboy boots to wear at Finals. After winning this past weekend, Fabiano Vieira says he may just have to buy her a pair.
Even though his health will remain a wild card, Fabiano Vieira isn’t worried.
“I am 32 years old,” he said. “I know how to ride. The concentration I had last week, I am ready. I am good to ride.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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