By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – The Top 3 bulls in the 2020 YETI World Championship race all stepped up to varying degrees this weekend during the 15/15 Bucking Battle at the PBR Ariat Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires.
The 2020 YETI World Champion Bull will be the animal with the highest average bull score from their top eight regular-season outs and two outs at the PBR World Finals.
No. 1 Chiseled, No. 2 Smooth Operator and No. 3 Hocus Pocus all dropped a lower score from earlier this season with impressive performances on Saturday night.
SMOOTH OPERATOR – 46.5 POINTS VS. JOSE VITOR LEME
The big winner, of course, was reigning World Champion Smooth Operator as the 10-year-old bovine teamed up with world No. 1 bull rider Jose Vitor Leme for a sensational 94.25-point ride.
Smooth Operator surprisingly went to the left into Leme’s hand for the second time in three meetings with Leme– a rare tendency for the Chad Berger bovine superstar. However, Smooth Operator looked fantastic with Leme on his back and the judges rewarded him with a 46.5-point bull score.
“I am very surprised he came to the left today,” Leme told Kate Harrison on CBS national television. “I was waiting for him to turn right. I just thankful God for another great ride in my career. I am so blessed. Thank you to all the fans today and for all of the support.
Smooth Operator is a very strong bull, he is not easy. Another 90 for my career, this is amazing. That is why I come here, to make my history in the PBR.”
Could Smooth Operator also be making history now? Maybe so. Smooth Operator has now posted 4
Could Smooth Operator be on a path to becoming the fifth bull in PBR history to win back-to-back world titles? Maybe so. Smooth Operator has now posted 46.5-point or higher bull scores in two of his three outs in the second half, and he could potentially become the fifth bull in PBR history to win back-to-back world titles.
Smooth Operator is currently sitting second in the YETI World Champion Bull race with an average score of 45.94 points.
CHISELED – 45.5 POINTS VS. CODY TEEL
The D&H Cattle Company budding superstar is going to make it difficult for Smooth Operator to gain ground on him in the world title race potentially. The No. 1 bull in the world downed 2012 PRCA champion Cody Teel in 3.17 seconds for a 45.5-point score.
Chiseled covered a lot of ground coming out of the chutes right away on his first few jumps.
“He did it in only one or two jumps,” two-time World Champion and CBS Sports analyst Justin McBride said. “Those are really, really long jumps and that gets a guy’s upper-body leaning back. That is a really really good score for most bulls, but Chiseled is capable of even more.”
Throw away Chiseled’s out two weeks ago when he hit the back of the bucking chutes and stumbled, resulting in a re-ride in Fort Worth, Texas, and Chiseled has been stout to say the least. Chiseled and Leme teamed up for 94 points a 46.5-point bull score in Salt Lake City last month ,and Chiseled was also marked 46.25 points just before that in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
HOCUS POCUS – 45.5 POINTS VS. EZEKIEL MITCHELL
Hocus Pocus posted his second consecutive 45.5-point score in as many weeks by dispatching of Ezekiel Mitchell in 4.63 seconds. The score comes on the heels of Hocus Pocus’s 45.5-point score in Fort Worth for bucking off Stetson Lawrence in 1.65 seconds. Hocus Pocus may be able to get closer to the top two contenders if he can keep up his current pace before the World Finals. The 5-year-old still has two sub-45-point scores among his Top 8 outs this season.
“Zeke is a young guy that is improving every week, but Hocus Pocus is a handful,” McBride said. “45.5-pint bull score. That is a great bull that he always has just enough forward movement that he keeps wanting to get a guy back.”
HONEY MAN SHINES ON CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY
Honey Man is not in contention for the World Championship, but he sure was noteworthy Sunday afternoon when he bucked off Mauricio Moreira in 1.76 seconds for a career-best 46 points.
“This is the kind of bull that guys that ride the spinners really good, but struggle against bulls with forward movement, are going to have tough, tough time against,” McBride said. “That is the kind you have to crawl out over the front end. Huge bull score right there for that bull.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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