By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – The 2020 YETI World Champion Bull race is going to get a great litmus test this coming weekend during the championship round of the PBR Bullnanza event in the heart of bull country.
Five of the top contenders in the World Champion Bull race from Hart Cattle Company and D&H Cattle Company will be looking to gain ground in the world title race with No. 1 Smooth Operator and Chad Berger Bucking bulls not heading to the Lazy E Arena.
No. 3 Chiseled (45.68 average bull score), No. 4 Hocus Pocus (45.16), No. 6 I’m Legit Too (44.94), No. 7 Smooth Over (44.82) and No. 10/three-time World Champion SweetPro’s Bruiser (44.56) all are slated to buck during the Saturday afternoon matinee.
The PBR Bullnanza event concludes Saturday at 1:45 p.m. ET on RidePass. CBS Sports Network will air Round 2 and the championship round Sunday at 6 p.m. ET.
Hart Cattle Company will be leading the stock contractors into Guthrie with an event-high 23 bulls, while D&H Cattle Company will be right behind with 21 bulls.
The Oklahoma-based stock contractors each have a case to be made that they may have the future 2020 World Champion Bull on their trailers in Chiseled and I’m Legit Too.
It will not just be tough on the riders in the championship round either as Guthrie has been quite the test overall for the PBR’s top riders in 2020.
This weekend is the fourth Unleash The Beast event to be held at the Lazy E Arena since the COVID-19 outbreak forced the PBR to rework its schedule.
The first three UTB events held in April/May when the PBR restarted following a 41-day hiatus because of the pandemic were a showcase of the PBR’s rank bull power.
Riders went a combined 63-for-258 at the three Lazy E Arena events for a 24.41% riding percentage.
UNLEASH THE BEAST RIDER INSIGHTS
All events: 428-for-1,307 (32.75%)
Lazy E Arena: 63-for-258 (24.41%)
All events not held at Lazy E Arena: 365-for-1,049 (34.8%)
The riders will be looking to get the better of their bovine counterparts beginning on Friday night at 8:45 p.m. ET on RidePass when Round 1 gets underway.
WHO IS IN/OUT FOR THIS WEEKEND
This weekend’s event at the Lazy E Arena is optional for all bull riders, and the PBR has invited 35 riders to compete. The first 30 draw spots were filled based on the 2020 world standings. Riders with World Champion exemptions, riders with guaranteed event exemptions or riders with approved injury exemptions filled remaining spots. The remaining draw spots were then filled based on the current season’s world standings.
Many of the PBR’s top international riders had returned home to Australia, Brazil and Canada once the PBR went on hiatus following the last Unleash The Beast event in Duluth, Georgia, on March 15, and some are still working on getting government approval to return for the second half.
Riders inside the Top 35 that are not competing this weekend
No. 3 Jess Lockwood (reconstructive hamstring surgery)
No. 8 Dener Barbosa (in Brazil)
No. 10 Fabiano Vieira (head injury)
No. 11 Eduardo Aparecido (in Brazil)
No. 12 Ramon de Lima (in Brazil)
No. 16 Claudio Montanha Jr. (in Brazil)
No. 18 Stetson Lawrence (doctored out)
No. 22 Aaron Kleier (in Australia)
No. 26 Dakota Buttar (in Canada)
No. 27 Tye Chandler (hip surgery)
No. 29 Lachlan Richardson (in Australia)
No. 35 Brock Radford (in Canada)
Alternates this weekend
No. 36 Rafael Henrique Dos Santos (-0.66 points behind No. 35 Radford)*
No. 37 Cody Casper (-1.66 points)*
No. 39 Marcus Mast (-9 points)
No. 41 Jake Lockwood (-10 points)
No. 42 Keyshawn Whitehorse (-11.16 points)
No. 44 Dakota Louis (-14.66 points)*
No. 51 Cannon Cravens (-37.16 points)*
No. 52 Paulo Lima (-38.16 points)*
No. 52 Keith Hall (-38.16 points)
No. 54- Junio Patrik Souza (-39.16 points)*
*Earned points last weekend in Bismarck
Six of the alternates above – Santos, Casper, Louis, Cravens, Lima and Souza – all earned points toward the world standings last weekend to add intensity to the race to qualify for the World Finals.
Riders competing via exemption
No. 191 Cody Nance (-84.66)
No. 191 J.B. Mauney (-84.66)
PBR veterans Cody Nance and J.B. Mauney are still searching for their first qualified rides of the 2020 season after both going 0-for-2 last weekend.
Nance (seven guaranteed events remaining) and Mauney (seven guaranteed events and 10 World Champion exemptions) are trying to keep their World Finals qualification streaks alive after missing the first half of the season because of shoulder injuries. Mauney had reconstructive right shoulder surgery, while Nance missed five and a half months because of nerve damage in his right shoulder.
Mauney has qualified for 14 consecutive PBR World Finals, and Nance has made it to the season-ending finale 11 straight seasons.
Mauney has drawn Marquis Metal Works Coriolis Effect (1-0, UTB/METC) and Nance will face Why Hell Ya (1-1, UTB) on Friday night.
LEME LOOKS TO EXTEND WORLD LEAD ON NEW NO. 2
World leader Jose Vitor Leme has a new challenger in the No. 2 hole in the PBR world standings for the first time since he overtook the top ranking from Joao Ricardo Vieira with a victory on Feb. 23 at the U.S. Border Patrol Invitational (St. Louis).
Vieira moved ahead of injured and defending World Champion Jess Lockwood for the No. 2 ranking by going 3-for-3 in Bismarck last week. Lockwood, who will once again be a member of the RidePass broadcast team this weekend, had remained No. 2 in the rankings for five months despite undergoing reconstructive left hamstring surgery in March.
Leme leads Vieira by 232.5 points heading into Round 1 on Friday night. Both riders are also qualified to ride at the WCRA Stampede at the E rodeo Saturday night at the Lazy E Arena. One rider can earn a maximum of 44 points toward the world standings at the WCRA event.
First, though, Leme and Vieira will continue their pursuits of the 2020 PBR World Championship at PBR Bullnanza.
Leme has drawn Crazy Times (15-4, UTB/METC) for Round 1, and Vieira will take on Armed & Dangerous (2-0, UTB/METC).
Armed & Dangerous bucked Leme off in 1.79 seconds during the Monster Energy Team Challenge in Las Vegas.
Bismarck winner Colten Jesse, now No. 4 in the world standings, has drawn Buckin’ For Cash (2-0, UTB/METC) in Round 1. Jesse is 358.5 points behind Leme in the world standings.
BACK TO ITS ROOTS
This is the first PBR Bullnanza event since two-time PBR World Champion J.B. Mauney won the 2009 event.
(Note: The three Unleash The Beast events in April/May were not branded as PBR Bullnanza. Those three events were won by Fabiano Vieira, Jose Vitor Leme and Lucas Divino).
The PBR held events at the Lazy E Arena during its inaugural 1994 season, but the Lazy E was putting on Bullnanza events even before the launch of the bull riding organization in 1992.
Clint Branger won the inaugural Bullnanza event at the Lazy E Arena in 1989. He would tie for the victory the following season with Tuff Hedeman before winning it a third time in 1992. Hedeman would win it again in 1991 and 1995.
Other past Bullnanza winners include: Mike Erickson (1993), Terry Don West (1994), Jerome Davis, (1996), Adriano Moraes (1997), Adam Carrillo (1998), Don Ray Howard (1999), Jason Bennett (2000), Dave Samsel (2001), Jim Sharp (2002), Cory Rasch (2003), Lee Akin (2004), Bryan Richardson (2005), Jake Wade (2006), Nathan Tull (2007) and T.J. Pitman (2008).
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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