By: Slade Long
Joao Ricardo Vieira on E13 Skull Crusher:
Jose Vitor Leme is sidelined this week, and that presents a huge opportunity for the guys chasing him to make up ground. Right now, Vieira is the closest, and he’s not even in realistic striking distance, with the World Finals fast approaching. This bull is 1-3 in his short career, and Vieira should handle him easily.
Gage Gay on 62D Smokin’ Gun:
Gay hasn’t been on tour since January, but he has a good bull to come back to. Smokin’ Gun is 2-4 against high level riders, and he’s likely to go into Gay’s hand as well.
J.B. Mauney on 410 Pancho Villa:
Mauney may not have been riding up to his own standards lately, but he’s still capable of knocking off just about any bull. This one should be right in his wheelhouse. Pancho Villa should go to the left, and to the eye he looks like a lot of bulls Mauney has dominated throughout his career. Good draw for the two-time champ.
Kaique Pacheco on 169 Peep Show:
Peep Show is weak to right-handed riders and top-tier riders, and Pacheco is both. Despite missing most of the summer events, Pacheco is still No. 5 in the standings, and he may as well be third. While Leme has been running away with the world title race lead, Pacheco, Lucas Divino and Jess Lockwood are virtually tied for third place. They are all around 750 points back, and they need to cut that to less than 500 by the start of the Finals to have a prayer.
Jess Lockwood on -410 Playing Chicken:
This is a pretty nice and very rideable bull. He will probably go away from Lockwood’s hand, but with good timing. Lockwood should be able to handle him, but he may not be enough bull to deliver a lot of points, and like Vieira, Pacheco and Divino, Lockwood needs to accumulate a LOT of points before the Finals gets here.
Ezekiel Mitchell on 419 Big City Nights:
Mitchell has a Canadian bull here who has been very good to right-handed riders. Andrew Alvidrez rode him for 88.5 points last week in Billings, and Zane Lambert was the same in Lethbridge, Alberta earlier this season.
Alex Cerqueira on 513 Good Night Robicheaux:
Robicheaux was ridden twice in Bismarck, but he’s still one of most difficult bulls around. Cerqueira is a huge underdog here.
Claudio Montanha Jr. on 34 Soup in a Group:
This is one of the nicest bulls to have in a tough round, but Montanha is 0-for-2 against him. Soup in a Group has given up eight qualified rides in his last 10 outs, but he still may have a slight edge here. Montanha hasn’t made the whistle on a bull of this caliber since February.
Andrew Alvidrez on 28A Smooth Wreck:
Alvidrez had his best showing ever at this level last week when he went 3-for-4 in Billings and finished second to Jose Vitor Leme. He finished the weekend off with a strong 91.25-point ride on Medicine Man in the short go. This bull will be a little tougher than that, but like Medicine Men, Smooth Wreck has good timing. Alvidrez is having his best season ever, and with success comes more opportunities at world class bulls like this one.
Mauricio Gula Moreira on 517 Space Force:
Moreira is in this round because Daylon Swearingen is out. He will face a bull that is sure to go away from his hand. Space Force has been ridden just three times by a left-handed rider, and two of those were Jose Vitor Leme.
Derek Kolbaba on 169 Sky Harbor:
Sky Harbor threw Kolbaba off back in February, but he’s still a great draw for a left-handed rider. This bull is really all about the up and down. He was around for a while before he really settled into any kind of pattern, but of late he’s only been ridden by lefties. He’s not the perfect fit for Kolbaba, but he’s a better fit than a lot of the other bulls here.
Cody Teel on 162 The Right Stuff:
Teel has the odds stacked against him here. This bull has been no good for right-handed riders, nor any rider not named Jess Lockwood, who is 1-for-2 against him and the only guy to earn a qualified ride.
Ramon de Lima on 679 I’m Busted:
I’m Busted is 8-0 in his career, and Lima bucked off of him just a week ago in Billings. Back in June, Daylon Swearingen took this bull 4.63 seconds, and no one since has made it to even the three-second mark.
Eduardo Aparecido on B1 Apper’s Mind Freak:
Mind Freak is 19-0 against right-handed riders, and for good reason. He can move around in the spin, move forward, move away from the rider, and he’s tricky even going into a rider’s hand. Aparecido will have a tough job here.
Ezekiel Mitchell on 444 Big Black:
This is the pick of the pen by the numbers, except for one thing: he’s never allowed a right-handed rider to make the whistle. As many times as we’ve seen big, round-winning rides on Big Black, it’s always been a lefty. He’s certainly the best draw in this round for a left-handed rider, but he’s 16-0 against righties, and that puts Mitchell at a disadvantage here.
Mason Taylor on 442 Blue Crush:
Blue Crush hasn’t been ridden in more than a year, and he has buckoffs against Jose Vitor Leme and Joao Ricardo Vieira this season. He often doesn’t have a pattern, and he’s unpredictable at best. One thing you can count on is at some point he will leap really high and try to turn inside out. Taylor’s best chance is for this bull to have a rideable trip here. Bulls with a wild streak can go wild in the rider’s favor from time to time.
Cooper Davis on -508 Rocky:
Decent draw for Davis here. This bull has only been ridden once this year, and has six straight buckoffs right now, but Davis rode him about a year ago in Fairfax, Virginia.
Colten Jesse on 688 American Gangster:
Jesse bucked off this bull in New York at the beginning of this season. He suffered the same fate as the other seven left-handed riders who have tried this bull. American Gangster goes to the right with a lot of gusto. He’s an intense bull who puts out a lot of effort. He doesn’t have bad timing, and he’s not tricky, he just puts everything he has into going right. Jesse has a chance here, but the bull has the edge.
Kaique Pacheco on 806 Speed Demon:
Speed Demon has an interesting history. He’s been ridden 11 times, five of those by Cooper Davis. In the past year, he’s been ridden just four times – three of those by Davis and one by Pacheco, who rode him in the St. Louis 15/15 back in February. It’s the only time these two have met, and Pacheco handled Speed Demon pretty well.
Jess Lockwood on 001 Smooth Operator:
Lockwood is extremely good at riding bulls away from his hand, which is what Smooth Operator normally does. As we saw last week, he can go to the left too, but so far he’s only done it with Leme aboard. He’s 35-0 against lefties when he goes to the right.
Joao Ricardo Vieira on 2731 South Texas Gangster:
This is a better draw for a right-handed rider. He’s been ridden three times this year by righties, including his two most recent outs. Vieira is solid enough on bulls that go away from his hand, but he really needs to have the kind of weekend Leme had last week and ride everything while Leme is out of action.
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