After not appearing this past weekend, in Oklahoma City, it comes as little surprise that Jeff Talley is officially retiring Asteroid, Jack Daniel’s After Party and Shepherd Hills Trapper.
In a message, on Wednesday evening, Talley wrote, “Just wanted to give you a heads up that Asteroid and after party are not going anywhere this year…I guess you would call it retirement, but I’m breeding them and not putting them on the road.”
In an interview early Thursday morning, Talley added, “I really felt like it was time. I didn’t want it to be time because I want to see them, but I felt like it was the right time and the right thing to do.”
In 2012, Asteroid won the World Champion Bull title.
He challenged three-time winner Bushwacker in 2011, 2013 and again in 2014.
Talley said he’s been seriously contemplating the retirement since early October and made up his mind two weeks ago before making it public today. He added that it was tough seeing Asteroid have a less-than-spectacular out in the sixth round of the World Finals when Silvano Alves rode him for 87.25 points in what will be the final out of his professional career.
“I hate to see him go,” longtime PBR livestock director Cody Lambert said. “He didn’t get to finish it out like a lot of great Champions. He’s still very capable. In fact, right up until the end I thought he was going to win it.
“To go out quietly like that, it’s sad that his last out and Bushwacker’s last out were the same day and everybody knew it was Bushwacker’s last out and not soul knew it was Asteroid’s. Even after.”
Talley added, “He just didn’t buck like he’s able to. I don’t know, they quit while they were still working good. You knew you could put them in there and they would give you everything they have. They’re getting older and I just wanted them to go out at their best ability.”
Asteroid is 8 years old.
After being ridden by Fabiano Vieira for 87 points in August 2011, Asteroid was ridden only two more times over the next 38 months.
J.B. Mauney famously rode him for 93.5 points, in San Antonio, before Asteroid bucked off 31 consecutive riders – mostly in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round – prior to Alves’ whistle-making effort.
Lambert said the laundry list of World Champions and other future legends, all of whom have had their difficulties on Asteroid, cements his name among the great bucking bulls.
Alves had bucked off three times before making the whistle, while Mauney failed to earn a qualified score in three attempts since making the whistle.
Other Champions, who never made a qualified ride, include Guilherme Marchi, Mike Lee and Renato Nunes.
“That’s the kind of guy it took to ride him,” said Lambert, of Alves and Mauney’s determination to make the whistle. “Nobody that wasn’t ever a great bull rider rode him.”
Lambert noted that Vieira’s score was sub-90 simply because “he was totally out of control” in order to “hang on” for 8 seconds.
If there was ever a knock on Asteroid, it was that was he had a hair-trigger in the chute and was known to explode with such force at the crack of the gate that four times in his career, riders were awarded re-ride opportunities because Asteroid hipped himself coming out of the chute.
Lambert quickly pointed that none of the four re-rides were from bad trips.
Prior to Alves’ ride, Asteroid bucked off Chase Outlaw in back-to-back outs, including an impressive 47-point effort in Biloxi, Mississippi, that left most insiders believing Asteroid was the frontrunner to win last year’s title.
It would have been his second, and prevented Bushwacker from winning a third.
“He’s been challenged and proved himself time and time again,” Lambert said. “He should definitely go down as one of the all-time greats in the PBR if not of all-time anywhere.”
Talley said, “What he’s done and what he’s accomplished – to even be in the running last year, as old as he is was an accomplishment for him – I want him to go out with good memories on his mind, on mine, everybody that watched him like Cody said.
“I just didn’t want to haul him and have people start strapping it on him because he’s losing it, losing a step and everything.”
Lambert likened Asteroid to Mr. T and Pacific Bell.
“He was little and he was snappy,” Lambert said. “If you watched them buck you thought they were 2,000 pounds and as strong as any bull could be, but if you got on them you realized they were only about 1,400 pounds.”
Talley said that is precisely why he didn’t want Asteroid to overstay his welcome.
According to Talley, if Asteroid were to lose a step it would be noticeable and visible not only to riders and fellow stock contractors, but fans watching in the arena and on television.
The Louisiana-based contractor, who took over managing Circle T Ranch & Rodeo following the death of his father Howard Talley, felt Asteroid “went on top” as opposed to becoming a more desirable bull in the final round.
“He didn’t fire like he knows how to do and it could be some of the limited hauling,” said Talley, who had Gene Melton haul his former World Champion to only 10 events over the course of a 10-month long season instead of the usual 15 or 16 events.
PBR statistician Slade Long said Asteroid might have been one of the most-well-managed bulls of all-time.
Talley said the credit for that particular compliment belongs to Melton, who hauled Asteroid throughout his four-plus-year career. He said Melton kept not only Asteroid and After Party in shape, but also did the same for their entire pen of bucking bulls over the years.
Talley said the key to maintaining their endurance was giving them time off between outings and, more importantly, “just (letting) them be bulls out in the pasture.”
Lambert described After Party as a “Championship Round bull, but he was one of the most desirable ones to have in the Championship Round because our guys could ride him. Not every time, but they could ride him and they were going to win every time they rode him.”
After Party was the highest selling bull at the National Finals Rodeo and the following year, in 2010, he was the PRCA Bull of the Year before making his PBR debut in 2011.
All three bulls – Asteroid, Jack Daniel’s After Party and Shepherd Hills Trapper, who is the oldest of the trio – will be used for breeding purposes as Circle T continues the process of building a breeding program.
Already two years into that plan, Talley said that he has been selling off the bull calves, while keeping the young heifers in hopes they will “become producers one day.” He estimated they’re another couple years away from having a full breeding program.
“We had a good run and I kind of finished out what my mom and dad had started,” Talley said. “Nothing lasts forever.
“The PBR was really, really good to us. I have nothing but praise for everybody the way we were treated, the way we were invited to events and the way they really built these bulls up. They’re the ones who made Asteroid a star.”
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