ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - For the 16th year in a row, the Professional
Bull Riders are bringing the nationally-televised Built Ford Tough
Series to Albuquerque, and the University of New Mexico's
world-famous Pit, this weekend for the Ty Murray Invitational
presented by Sandia Resort & Casino.
Nine-time World Champion and PBR co-founder Ty Murray hosts the event. The BFTS features the Top 35 bull riders in the world competing against the toughest bulls on the planet.
Bull riding begins at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 23; at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 24; and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 25. Tickets begin at $15, and can be purchased at UNM ticket outlets and Albertsons stores in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe, by telephone at (877) 664-8661, and at www.unmtickets.com.
More than 25,000 packed The Pit in 2011 to watch New Mexico natives L.J. Jenkins of Texico, N.M., and Ryan McConnel of Farmington, N.M., finish first and second. Jenkins, who is currently ranked 10th in the world standings, led the event from start to finish, and posted a pair of round wins. It was the second time that he has won the event, having finished first in 2008.
L.J. Jenkins dominated in Albuquerque last year, putting out a performance that included this 92.25-pointer on RMEF Gunpowder & Lead.
Jenkins and McConnel are both competing this weekend, along with
defending PBR World Champion Silvano Alves, who
has won the past two BFTS events to move up to fourth in the world
standings, and the current No. 1 rider in the world, J.B.
Mauney, who also has two wins this year.
Competing for more than $140,000 in total prize money, each of the Top 35 riders in the world will ride on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Following Round 3 on Sunday, the riders with the 10 highest cumulative scores will advance to the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, where they will each compete with one more bull. The overall event winner will be the rider with the highest combined score from all four regular-format rounds.
Albuquerque will also feature the second of nine PBR 15/15 Bucking Battles, which have the Top 15 riders in the world competing against the 15 highest-ranked bulls at each event. The PBR 15/15 Bucking Battle will be broadcast in its entirety on CBS at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 25. The special round, which has an additional purse of $21,000, will take place immediately following Round 2 on Saturday. The 15/15 Bucking Battle replaces the usual first short round for a three-day event. Points and money earned in the PBR 15/15 Bucking Battle do not count toward the event result, but they do count toward the BFTS season standings, and qualification for the Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Albuquerque will also feature the second of
nine PBR 15/15 Bucking Battles, which have the Top 15 riders in the
world competing against the 15 highest-ranked bulls at each
One of college basketball's most famous and recognizable buildings, The Pit is the home court for New Mexico men's and women's basketball, and has hosted countless NCAA tournament games, including the national championship game in 1983.
Alves has won the past two events, and over $200,000 in the last two weeks. He earned $42,973 last weekend for first place in Glendale, Ariz., and $162,733 for winning the Last Cowboy Standing title in front of more than 25,000 on March 10 in Detroit. Alves leads the BFTS in 2012 with $253,199, bringing his career earnings to $2,036,743. He is also the only rider to win the PBR World Championship in the season immediately after earning PBR Rookie of the Year.
The field in Albuquerque has six PBR World Champions, including defending World Champion Bull Bushwacker. The past four World Champions, Alves, Renato Nunes (2010), Kody Lostroh (2009), and Guilherme Marchi (2008), are also scheduled to compete.
The steep sides and intimate feel of The Pit make it an ideal bull riding venue.
It will be the last appearance in New Mexico for two-time PBR
World Champion Chris Shivers (2000 and 2003), who
announced in February that he would retire at the end of the
The PBR continues its tradition of allowing top Native American bull riders to compete in Albuquerque, inviting 2011 Indian National Finals Rodeo World Champion Shawn Best Jr., who is a member of the Colville Tribe from Omak, Wash.
The PBR Fan Club will give fans the opportunity to meet the PBR riders from 9-11 a.m. on Saturday in the Tlur Pa Lounge in the Sandia Resort & Casino. Only PBR Fan Club members with a valid membership card will be given access. Two-time PBR World Champion Justin McBride and his band will perform at the Sandia Resort & Casino on Saturday, immediately following the conclusion of Round 2 and the PBR 15/15 Bucking Battle. Riding High Ministries will host a Cowboy Church Service on Sunday, March 25, at 10 a.m. at The Pit.
Two-time PBR World Champion Justin McBride and his band will perform at the Sandia Resort & Casino on Saturday.
Albuquerque is the 12th stop of the 2012 BFTS season, which
opened on Jan. 6-8 with capacity crowds at Madison Square Garden in
New York. The BFTS will make 28 stops in 23 states before the Built
Ford Tough World Finals in Las Vegas on Oct. 24-28, 2012. The World
Finals are where the PBR World Champion will be crowned and awarded
the coveted championship buckle and a $1 million bonus. The richest
bull riding event in the world, the World Finals has a total purse
of more than $2 million.
The BFTS is televised every week on CBS, CBS Sports Network, NBC, NBC Sports Network, and YouTube. BFTS telecasts are produced for the PBR under a multi-year agreement with David Neal Productions, a Los Angeles-based production company led by 34-time Emmy® Award winner and Peabody Award winner David Neal, who serves as executive producer.
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