WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. ― The Winston-Salem Invitational is just the third event of the season, but it's really the last two days of a very busy week in the Professional Bull Riders. From Chicago, many of the riders traveled to Denver, Colo., for a three-day Touring Pro event. Touring Pro action continues in Pueblo, Colo., starting today, and for the guys who aren't riding in Winston-Salem, Wichita Falls, Texas, starts on Friday and continues through Saturday.
Winston-Salem marks the 2013 debut for Circle T Ranch's bulls, and Winston-Salem will host the first 15/15 Bucking Battle of the 2013 season. Circle T Ranch, out of Louisiana, has six bulls in the 15/15 round, including its number one bovine son, 2012 PBR World Champion Bull Asteroid. PBR Livestock Director Cody Lambert called Asteroid a favorite to win it again in in 2013.
"He's a real handful for good bull riders. He spins to the left every time, and he's got enough forward movement that guys tend to get their upper bodies leaning back, and that creates a lot of whip to the outside."
"I like the way he finished the year," Lambert said. "He had 18 outs last year, was ridden once, and that shouldn't be a blemish on his record. Just because J.B Mauney rides one, it doesn't mean everyone else can."
One of the top PBR bulls last season, Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey, will make his first appearance of the season in the 15/15 Bucking Battle here. While he appears to buck in the same pattern every trip, his record shows that knowing that isn't helping riders earn scores on him.
"He's a real handful for good bull riders," Lambert said. "He spins to the left every time, and he's got enough forward movement that guys tend to get their upper bodies leaning back, and that creates a lot of whip to the outside. You've got to ride him in really good shape the whole time, and he doesn't help you at all. Bulls that have a little more kick than him, and a little less forward motion, might help a rider stay in the right spot, but this bull is just trying to whip your head back and your body to the outside the whole time. He's also built so that his backbone sticks up a little, and it's hard for a right-hander to get his hand in the middle. A left-handed rider needs to do everything right, but a right-handed rider just won't ride him."
Kody Lostroh will face Honey in the 15/15 round, and Lambert likes the match.
"Kody's the right kind of guy for that bull," Lambert said. "He's left-handed, he tends to do everything right, and he tends to stay to the front. That could be good."
Palm Springs is another Circle T bull that riders haven't exactly gotten along with. He was unridden at Built Ford Tough Series events last season, and he hasn't been ridden anywhere since the summer of 2011. Lambert noted that Palm Springs is a big bull, and he's gotten bigger since Circle T purchased him from Diamond S Early last season.
"I didn't really give him the respect he deserved when he first came around," Lambert said. "He just didn't look that flashy to me, and I didn't always use him in the Championship round. As it turns out, that's where he belongs. He belongs right there with the best bulls in the PBR."
The highest-marked bull in New York, Tom Teague's Teflon Tom will appear in the 15/15 round here as well. Teflon Tom competed as an ABBI Classic bull last season, and he won the ABBI Classic Competition in Thackerville, Okla, last August.
"He wasn't the highest marked bull of the Thackerville event last year, but I thought he was the best bull there," Lambert said. "In New York, I thought he was definitely one of the best bulls. I still go back to Thackerville, because he had J.B. Mauney on him there, a week after he rode Asteroid, and he threw J.B. back into the bucking chute."
Follow Slade Long on Twitter @ProBullStats.
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