World No. 1 Jose Vitor Leme extends lead atop world standings with qualified ride in returning from injury
GUTHRIE, Okla. – After a 41-day hiatus, the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) returned to competition tonight at Lazy E Arena in Oklahoma in an event closed to fans and observing strict health protocols.
Forty-one of the world’s best bull riders and the rankest bucking bulls on the planet took to the dirt for the eleventh elite Unleash The Beast event of the season – the PBR Las Vegas Invitational, presented by Union Home Mortgage.
Two sophomore riders on the elite series stood tallest while the world’s top rider increased his lead in the championship chase.
Topping the contingent of fearless cowboys was Taylor Toves (Stephenville, Texas), who gritted to a strong 89.5-point score atop Biker Bob (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/H&C Bucking Bulls), a bull who had only been ridden eight times prior on the premier series, to win the first round of the two-day event at the iconic rodeo arena.
In making the 8-second whistle, Toves rode away from his hand to snap the bovine athlete’s three-out buckoff streak. He became only the second right-handed rider to ever reach the 8-second whistle atop Biker Bob in the bull’s 45 outs on record. Toves joins Chandler Bownds (Lubbock, Texas) who was the first rider to accomplish the feat in January 2019.
The 89.5-point effort is now Toves’ career-best ride on the premier series, and his best score since April 2019 when he was scored 89 points on Talking Smack (Dakota Rodeo-Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Ken Barnhard).
Toves earned $3,000 and 20 crucial world points.
Entering the event in precarious position, ranked No. 35 in the world and on the cusp of being cut from the tour, Toves’ ride was also crucial in his pursuit of remaining on the elite Unleash The Beast. As a result of his Round 1-winning ride, Toves climbed nine spots in the world rankings, now No. 26.
World No. 1 Jose VItor Leme (Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil) returned from injury in championship-contending fashion, riding Homegrown (Cord McCoy/Chad Reese) for 86.5 points.
Prior to this weekend’s event in Oklahoma, Leme had been relegated to the sidelines, recovering from three broken ribs sustained in February while competing in Kansas City, Missouri, preventing him from competing at the two most recent tour stops in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Duluth, Georgia, PBR’s last event in mid-March before going on hiatus.
Entering the PBR Las Vegas Invitational, presented by Union Home Mortgage, Leme, riding at a torrid 74.07% on 20 rides, held a 72.5-point lead over world No.2 Jess Lockwood (Volborg, Montana), who is unable to compete in Oklahoma as he continues to recover from a severely torn hamstring.
Leme’s ride earned him 6 world points, and the Brazilian star is now 79.5 points out front of two-time, and reigning, PBR World Champion Lockwood.
Second in Round 1 was Ezekiel Mitchell (Rockdale, Texas).
The YouTube-taught young gun easily covered Soup In a Group (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Wilks Ranch) for 89 points.
Mitchell earned $2,000 and 10 world points and rose from No. 23 to No. 20 in the world.
The bulls had been dominant for the entire first half of tonight’s event at the empty Lazy E Arena.
The tide, however, turned completely, and Mitchell’s score was the fifth-consecutive qualified ride, snapping a 16-out buckoff streak that began the event.
The head-turning progression of rides began with Mauricio Gula Moreira (Gaviao Peixoto, Brazil) who became the first rider inside Lazy E Arena to cover his draw. Making the 8 on Fig Jama (TNT Bucking Bulls/Hart Cattle Co.) for 87 points, he was propelled to a fourth-place finish in the round, bringing the 20-year-old Brazilian 8 world points.
Moreira, who is amid his first full season competing in the United States, finished a career-best second on the Unleash The Beast at the most recent stop in March in Duluth, Georgia when he went 2-for-3. The finish, which earned him 90 world points, allowed him to surge from No. 43 to No. 17 in the world standings.
Inside Lazy E Arena, Moreira’s climb continued, rising from No. 17 to No. 15.
After Mason Taylor (Maypear, Texas) recorded the second qualified ride of the five-out streak, a 78-point trip on Come On Over (TNT Bucking Bulls/Hart Cattle Co.), Marco Eguchi (Poa, Brazil) delivered the fifth-best score of the round when he rode Night Sweats (Plummer/Hart Cattle Co.) for 86.75 points.
Eguchi left Lazy E Arena with 7 world points courtesy of the trip, maintaining his world No. 16 rank.
Contributing the final 8-second effort in the quintet was veteran rider Fabiano Vieira (Perola, Brazil).
The 37-year old rode Uncle Gangster (Ogden Ranch/Hart Cattle Co.) for 87.25 points, the third-best score of Round 1, earning $1,250 and 9 world points, remaining No. 14 in the world.
Two additional riders recorded scores in the opening round, which was dominated by the league’s world-class bucking bulls. Those riders were: Tye Chandler (Celina, Texas) marked 85 points on Red Bandana (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Staci Wilks/N Bar Ranch/Chase Bass); and Rafael dos Santos (Sebastianopolis, Brazil) scored 84.25 points on Low Dog (Dakota Rodeo-Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Ken Barnhard).
The PBR Las Vegas Invitational, presented by Union Home Mortgage, will conclude with Round 2 and the championship round on Sunday, April 26. CBS Sports Network and RidePass’ LIVE coverage of the historic event will begin at 12:00 p.m.ET.
Fans can relive all the action from Round 1 starting at 8:00 a.m.ET on Sunday, April 26, on RidePass at RidePass.com or via the mobile app.
PBR Unleash The Beast
PBR Las Vegas Invitational, presented by Union Home Mortgage
Lazy E Arena – Guthrie, Oklahoma
Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Round 3-Event Aggregate-Event Points)
1. Taylor Toves, 89.5-0-0-89.50-20 Points.
2. Ezekiel Mitchell, 89-0-0-89.00-10 Points.
3. Fabiano Vieira, 87.25-0-0-87.25-9 Points.
4. Mauricio Gula Moreira, 87-0-0-87.00-8 Points.
5. Marco Eguchi, 86.75-0-0-86.75-7 Points.
6. Jose Vitor Leme, 86.5-0-0-86.50-6 Points.
7. Tye Chandler, 85-0-0-85.00-5 Points.
8. Rafael H. dos Santos, 84.25-0-0-84.25-4 Points.
9. Mason Taylor, 78-0-0-78.00-3 Points.
Daylon Swearingen, 0-0-0-0.00
Cole Melancon, 0-0-0-0.00
Colten Jesse, 0-0-0-0.00
Lucas Divino, 0-0-0-0.00
Matt Triplett, 0-0-0-0.00
Derek Kolbaba, 0-0-0-0.00
Andrew Alvidrez, 0-0-0-0.00
Joao Henrique Lucas, 0-0-0-0.00
Brennon Eldred, 0-0-0-0.00
Amadeu Campos Silva, 0-0-0-0.00
Cody Campbell, 0-0-0-0.00
Stetson Lawrence, 0-0-0-0.00
Marcus Mast, 0-0-0-0.00
Jake Lockwood, 0-0-0-0.00
Brady Sims, 0-0-0-0.00
Cody Casper, 0-0-0-0.00
Dakota Louis, 0-0-0-0.00
Keith Hall, 0-0-0-0.00
Grayson Cole, 0-0-0-0.00
Wallace Vieira de Oliveira, 0-0-0-0.00
Cody Teel, 0-0-0-0.00
Boudreaux Campbell, 0-0-0-0.00
Keyshawn Whitehorse, 0-0-0-0.00
Lindomar Lino, 0-0-0-0.00
Junio Patrik Souza, 0-0-0-0.00
Cannon Cravens, 0-0-0-0.00
Paulo Ferreira Lima, 0-0-0-0.00
Kyle Jones, 0-0-0-0.00
Romildo Rodrigues, 0-0-0-0.00
Venn Johns, 0-0-0-0.00
Brady Portenier, 0-0-0-0.00
Dalton Kasel, 0-0-0-0.00