In 1989, Cody Lambert rode Bailey's 99 to win
the legendary George Paul Memorial Bull Riding in Del Rio,
Texas. No one seems to remember the score - just that Lambert
won, and that Bailey's 99 was finally ridden.
"Things have changed so much," said David Bailey, who raised
Bailey's 99, "but back then, Del Rio was the biggest deal there was
for bull riders. It was a real bull riding
extravaganza, and a real cornerstone of the history of bull
A lot of things have changed in the 23 years since that historic
event, but the three key players who converged to capture the ride
on film are all still instrumental in the bucking bull industry
today: Lambert, Bailey and photographer David Jennings.
Lambert is known as one of the greatest bull riders and cowboys of
all time. Beyond his three PBR World Finals qualifications, Lambert
competed in the PRCA's National Finals Rodeo in bull riding a
staggering seven times. He qualified in the saddle bronc riding an
additional three times, and won many all-around titles, including
three at Rodeo Houston.
While Lambert will always be a bull rider to many, there's no
doubt he's also much more than that: He's a bull scholar. Lambert
is very much responsible for what the PBR is today and even more
responsible for the caliber and quality of the bulls that the PBR
has become known for.
"I don't remember how many points Cody was that
day, but I remember it being one of those really good bull
While many PBR fans know him as the man who selects the bulls to
buck at Built Ford Tough Series events, some may not realize the
depth of knowledge that position requires, or the road he took to
achieve it. His understanding of the industry runs as deep as the
genetics of the beasts he profiles each week as the PBR livestock
A founder of the PBR and member of its coveted Ring of Honor,
Lambert's cultivation of the sport of professional bull riding and
his dedication to its success is unmatched. What he's done for the
sport of bull riding to advance both the cowboys and the bulls was
recently acknowledged with another award, an induction into the
Texas Rodeo Cowboy's Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas.
In 1986, Jennings was selected to shoot the NFR. Just 25 years
old, he became the youngest photographer to receive that honor. He
went on to shoot rodeos throughout America, Canada and Brazil.
Before he was 30, he had already snapped some of the most iconic
bull-riding shots of all time.
The famed rodeo photographer was inducted alongside Lambert into
the Texas Rodeo Cowboy's Hall of Fame. The dual induction was
especially appropriate since Jennings also captured many of
Lambert's other legendary rides over the course of his
Jennings continues to shoot rodeos and bull ridings, and has a
true passion for the sport he so artfully captures behind the lens.
Nowadays, he dedicates his time to photographing the future of the
sport - youth and high school events across Texas.
He is also a regular contributor to ABBI's "The American Bucking
Bull" magazine, where he shares his photos of historic rides, bulls
and cowboys. Jennings knew he was witnessing history-in-the-making
when he took the photo of Lambert in Del Rio. Bailey's 99 would
only be ridden twice in his entire career, the other time by Clint
"Riding at Del Rio back then was similar to
riding at the PBR World Finals today."
Bailey, from Fort Gibson, Okla., remains one of the industry's
core breeders of bucking bulls, and is responsible for a large
portion of the DNA racing through the veins of many PBR and ABBI
When asked about Lambert covering Bailey's 99, Bailey
stressed the importance of the Del Rio event in bull riding
"Del Rio will always be one of the sport's biggest
milestones in my opinion," Bailey said. "It was where the bulls
really became important, and it was definitely a
best-against-the-best competition that was the first of it's
"The best riders on the rankest bulls, in front of a huge
crowd, riding for a lot of money. It was truly one of
the biggest things to happen to the sport. Riding at Del Rio
back then was similar to riding at the PBR World Finals today. it
was the best of the best."
Historical buckers like Gunslinger, Playboy, and their prodigal
sons Lucky Strike and Super Cool, just scratch the surface of what
Bailey has brought to the industry when it comes to bovine
genetics. What these bulls have done as sires and grandsires is
what really rules the roost.
Gunslinger sons, 2003 PBR Bull of the Finals Neon Nights (owned by
Teague Bucking Bulls) and Up In Smoke (sire of Cody Ohl's ABBI
Futurity World Champion Pure Smoke) have each quickly risen to
become two of the ABBI's most aggressive and dominates sires. These
two bulls are only a small example of Bailey's contributions to the
bovine legacy of the PBR and ABBI.
Lambert, Jennings and Bailey will continue to contribute to the
future of the sport with their many talents for years to come. For
now, it is fitting to just pause a moment and reflect on the 8
seconds where the three came together and made history.
"The 99 bull was a bull that I had raised that really bucked,"
Bailey said. "I don't remember how many points Cody was that day,
but I remember it being one of those really good bull rides."
To learn more about ABBI, visit americanbuckingbull.com.