By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – Getting three-time World Champion SweetPro’s Bruiser warmed up may not be as easy as starting a truck on a cold winter morning, but six-time Stock Contractor of the Year H.D. Page has a pretty good idea about when Bruiser will be ready to fire on all cylinders.
On this Sunday’s episode of PBR Keep Riding, presented by Monster Energy, Craig Hummer and two-time World Champion Justin McBride catch up with Page and nine-time Stock Contractor of the Year Chad Berger at 7 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.
Bruiser, of course, is one of the topics of discussion as Page decided to bring back the 9-year-old bull this season for a push at a fourth world title.
The legendary bull is 2-0 this season on the Unleash The Beast, and he most recently bucked 2019 Rookie of the Year Dalton Kasel off in 7.97 seconds for a season-best, 44.75-point bull score last weekend in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
Bruiser is averaging 44.38 points in those two outs, but Page is expecting Bruiser to really get going once he gets a few more outs under him. Page said it has not been uncommon for Bruiser to need some additional time to get back to full steam following a long layoff.
“We made the decision to leave him off cows this year and try and make another run at it,” Page said. “With the (coronavirus) kicking in and all that, it kind of has put a damper on our plan. We are a little behind schedule getting the outs, but once he hits his stride, normally after three or four trips, he gets all his parts oiled up and he is ready to roll.
“I look for that to happen in the next three or four outs. I think you will see the best Bruiser. I think you will see the Bruiser of three, four, five years ago. I am anxious to see if I am right or not.”
Bruiser is scheduled to buck Sunday afternoon during the championship round of the PBR Lucas Oil Invitational, presented by U.S. Border Patrol.
Fans can watch the event live on CBS national television beginning at 2 p.m. ET.
The jury may still be out on whether or not Bruiser can put his name in the hat with the current heavy hitters in the YETI World Champion Bull race, but after a few more outs everyone may have a better idea how he compares.
Air Support currently leads the World Champion Bull race with a 45.75-point average on five outs, but he is not competing Sunday.
However, No. 2 Chiseled (45.70), another Page standout, is back in the short go for the national television broadcast. No. 3 and defending World Champion Smooth Operator (45.43) will also be in the championship round.
Bruiser, though, is still the bull that Page is hopeful can leave Las Vegas come Nov. 4-8 as the YETI World Champion.
If that were to happen, Bruiser would become the first four-time World Champion in PBR history.
“He is ready to go,” Page said. “Condition-wise, he has looked as good as he has since he was a 3 or 4 years old. It has been tough deal to hold him off cows. I have been bucking some yearlings out of him, and man, they have been special. It has been really tough. I had to make a decision to not breed him this year and maybe make a run for his fourth world title, and that is what I decided to do to give him the best shot.”
Bruiser finished fifth in the YETI World Champion Bull race last season with a 45.25-point average, ending his pursuit of a record-setting fourth world title. However, Bruiser missed the majority of the second half after he spent a week in the hospital with a life-threatening intestinal infection and a fecal impaction.
Bruiser, who lost 250 pounds because of the illness, eventually made a full recovery and bucked once at the 2019 World Finals. 2012 PRCA champion Cody Teel rode him for 91 points in Round 2 in Bruiser’s only appearance.
It took some serious thinking over the winter months, but Page decided to bring Bruiser back this season.
The 9-year-old made his 2020 season debut on the PRCA rodeo circuit with an impressive 47-point bull score at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo for bucking off Stetson Wright in 6.61 seconds. He followed that up with a 46-point score for 5.87 seconds of work against Ruger Piva. One month later, Bruiser bucked off Boudreaux Campbell in 2.75 seconds for a 45-point score at The American.
Bruiser has been a dominant road warrior for years, bucking all over the United States at least 126 times, according to ProBullStats.
Bruiser is 55-15 on the premier series, and has helped bull riders win millions of dollars since he debuted in August 2014 with a 6.8-second buckoff of Scottie Knapp in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Thirteen of Bruiser’s 15 qualified rides have been for 90 or more points.
Now Page will try to get that illustrious fourth world title for his bovine superstar.
“I kind of want to prove them wrong,” Page explained to Hummer. “Prove how tough and how good that bull is, but I guess I am doing it for me probably more than I should be. I think he has more to give. He is competitive enough to pull it off. That is just where we are at on that deal. I don’t know. We are playing it day by day. If I feel like after three, four, five outs he should hit his stride. If he doesn’t, then I might go backwards and turn him out on cows and call the whole deal off. It is day by day.
“I am trying to listen to what he is telling me, and I will watch how he performs and put everything as best I can in perspective to where we are at with everything else that is going on also.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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