CHICAGO ― Cody Lambert is in the middle of his busiest week of the year. When the Built Ford Tough Series rolls into Chicago on Saturday, it will kick off eight straight days of PBR action in four different cities.
The bulls are set for Chicago, while a different pen of bulls needs to be in Denver for a three-day Touring Pro Division event, which starts Monday. TPD action continues in Pueblo, Colo., which plays host to a two-day event next week, and another pen needs to be assembled for the BFTS event in Winston-Salem, N.C., next Friday and Saturday. As the PBR's livestock director, Lambert doesn't set the pens for all Touring Pro events, but for these two larger events, he typically does.
In Chicago, we'll see some of the same bulls we saw in New York, along with some from contractors further west, such as Chad Berger's Dakota Rodeos, and New Frontier Rodeo Co.
When Berger comes to an event, he brings Smackdown, one of the most powerful and reliable bulls in the PBR. He will turn 8 years old this year, and has logged over 20 outs in each of the past three seasons. He's essentially never had a bad day.
Smackdown will reach 75 career outs this season ― he's at 73 right now ― something that fewer than 1 percent of bulls ever achieve. It's his high-level performance and longevity that has Lambert thinking that Smackdown is "bound to slow down someday, but we haven't seen that yet."
Rock & Roll will make his second BFTS appearance of the year in Chicago. Still unridden, he made J.B. Mauney his 30th-straight victim in the championship round in New York.
"He's a little deceiving," Lambert said. "He's not a big bull, and there's a little more to him than meets the eye."
Rock & Roll dumps J.B. Mauney in New York.
A bull that has been notoriously bad in the chute, C'N Stars Bull Company's Buck Wild now wears a halter as a means of keeping him calm in the chute. Buck Wild is a son of Black Pearl, who was also known for being a little touchy in the chute. Lambert called Buck Wild "the most spectacular bull there is - if he can get out of the chute clean."
New Frontier Rodeo Company is bringing a load of bulls to Chicago, including the bonus bull Mississippi Hippy, who will face Robson Palermo on Saturday for a ride that could be worth $3,000.
"He's a big bucking son of a gun," Lambert said of Mississippi Hippy. "He doesn't have any smooth rhythm to him. He kicks and he goes to the left hard, and he's thrown off a lot of good left-handed riders."
New Frontier also brings their ace, Gray Squirrel, who is a rare case among bulls. Most of the riders seem like him, and tend to pick him high in draft rounds, but he is among the best bulls in the PBR at throwing guys off. He's been ridden just six times in 75 career outs, and only twice in 20 BFTS appearances. He's a grandson of the famous PBR bull Moody Blues.
Lambert noted that riders like Gray Squirrel "because he's little, he's a little gentleman in the chute, he's not mean and he tends to do the same thing every time."
Gray Squirrel might add that he does the same thing every time because it works.
Follow Slade Long on Twitter @ProBullStats.
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