By: Darci Miller
DENVER – When Santiago Castellanos bucks off a bull, he has a secret weapon in his pocket.
Since his invite to the Team Mexico training camp in December, Castellanos has been in touch with assistant coach Jerome Davis, and sends the 1995 PRCA World Champion and PBR co-founder videos of his rides.
“We’ve been keeping in touch here once in a while,” Castellanos said. “I’ve been sending some videos when I get bucked off, trying to fix the problems, trying to straighten out the creases so I can get everything worked out.”
What has Davis told him?
“Keep riding forward. Forward and backwards, not to the sides,” Castellanos said with a laugh.
The 27-year-old won’t be needing Davis’s advice following Round 1 of the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour’s Denver Chute Out at the National Western Stock Show Monday night, as he rode Attaboy for 86.5 points, good for third place on the night.
“The bull went around to the right,” Castellanos said. “I’m a little stronger when bulls turn to the right than when they turn to the left, and I had to take advantage of that. It came in my favor, so that helped me out.”
The score tied Castellanos’s career best on the Velocity Tour, where he’s been a mainstay for the last several seasons.
He is yet to crack the Unleash The Beast, but has high hopes for his 2020 season.
“It feels good,” Castellanos said of his strong showing so early in the season. “You’ve got to get it started right. So I’ve just got to keep doing my part, and keep going, keep the ball rolling.”
The Denver Chute Out continues on Tuesday and Wednesday. Round 1 is split over the course of Monday and Tuesday, with the Top 30 riders overall qualifying for Round 2 on Wednesday. The Top 15 riders in following the first two rounds then advance to the championship round.
Fans can watch all of the action from Denver live on RidePass beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
With 11 rides on the first night of Round 1, Castellanos is in prime position to advance to Round 2.
To date, his best career Velocity Tour finish was a third-place performance in Fresno, California, in March of 2018.
With the goal of making it to the premier series, Castellanos spent the offseason getting on practice bulls at a friend’s ranch. He’s also been running five miles a day, as well as stretching to keep his body flexible.
“Got to keep healthy,” he said, smiling. “It’s not easy work to do, to ride bulls.”
Castellanos looks back on his time spent at the Davis Rodeo Ranch in Archdale, North Carolina, with Team Mexico in September fondly, regardless of whether or not he makes the roster for the 2020 WinStar World Casino and Resort PBR Global Cup USA, presented by Monster Energy.
Simply getting to spend time with Davis and getting the opportunity to compete for a spot to represent his country was rewarding enough.
“Man, it was great,” Castellanos said. “Just sharing some time with Jerome Davis and his family, that was just awesome. You can’t compare that time with them. They’re awesome people. And just the stuff they tell you to get you where you want to be, help you out, that just mentally helped me out a lot.
“Just being part of Team Mexico, or not being part of it, but getting the invite for the tryouts, that was just amazing. Tried to show what I got.”
Davis and head coach Gerardo Venegas will be announcing their full roster in the coming weeks. Currently, Edgar Durazo, Alvaro Aguilar Alvarez and Francisco Garcia Torres are the only riders confirmed to be competing for Mexico.
Castellanos wasn’t the only Mexican rider in Denver, as Esteban Bustamante Salcido also competed on Monday, and Torres, Francisco Morales and Juan Carlos Contreras are in the draw for Tuesday night.
“I travel a lot with Juan Carlos Contreras, and Francisco Garcia, and Francisco Torres,” Castellanos said. “I travel a lot with them, so it keeps us together. We try to feed each other’s ego, like our mental words, because this sport has a lot to do with the mind, so we try to help each other out.”
The bond is strong among the Mexican riders, and Santiago hopes to one day don his nation’s colors at the Global Cup.
“It would mean a lot to me, just being part of Team Mexico, where I’m from, and trying to help out the team,” he said. “Not just doing it for myself, but for the whole team of Mexico, that would be just fantastic. Hopefully we’ll get that win.”
But for now, the Velocity Tour is his focus. He plans to compete in Portland, Oregon, at the Portland Classic on Jan. 18, and stay in the northwest for the Spokane Classic in Spokane, Washington, on Jan. 25.
Before that, though, Castellanos wants to make it count in Denver.
“I got a good bull, so I had to do my part,” he said. “I got him covered, got good points, so hopefully that sets me up pretty good for Wednesday night, and hopefully make it to the short round. That’s the plan.”
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