LAS VEGAS - This year's list of World Champion Bull contenders includes seven hopefuls.
As expected, the Top 35 riders votedfor Bushwacker and Asteroid, along with Smackdown, Lightmaker.com's Rango and David's Dream. PBR Livestock Director Cody Lambert has the right to name an extra bull to this list, but he couldn't decide between Rock & Roll and Buckey, so this year he included both on the list.
In his weekly podcast with PBR statistician Slade Long, Lambert also explained that money is paid down to stock contractors through the Top 5 places. Because a couple others - Rock & Roll and Buckey - were so close in the voting, he thought it was fair to give them an opportunity.
Rock & Roll has never been ridden, and Buckey has been a top bull all season. In fact this year he's outscored Bushwacker and Asteroid.
"Both of them deserve to be on this list," Lambert said, "and, I think, realistically it's a two-bull race for the World Championship between Bushwacker and Asteroid."
Long agreed, adding, "It's obviously Bushwacker and Asteroid's race to lose."
It came down to the same Top 2 bulls a year ago, with Bushwacker winning the title. Bushwacker had the highest mark last year with 47.75 points, while Asteroid has the high mark for this year with 47.5 points.
"They've beaten each other time and again," Long said, "and, I think, it'll be one of the closest races."
Long made it a point to illustrate than any one of the seven could be capable of winning the title.
He pointed out that that, statistically speaking, the higher bull scores go to bulls who buck their riders off, so if Bushwacker or Asteroid were to be ridden at the World Finals, that could prove to be a difference maker.
Lambert explained there could be a situation in which Bushwacker or Asteroid could buck their guy off too fast, which would in turn give the others more of an opportunity to showcase their talent and ability. In that case, perhaps, they too have a chance.
However, Lambert qualified his thoughts by adding, "But Asteroid and Bushwacker would have to have something go really wrong, because you know they're going to buck and they really buck hard -harder than everything else."
In any case, Bushwacker and Asteroid are fairly evenly matched.
Both will take part in a bull weigh-in on Monday afternoon, as part of the World Finals opening press conference on Fremont Street. It is scheduled to take place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and also includes the Top 10 bull riders.
"They're rank bulls," said Lambert, of this year's contenders. "I know that, and they're going to buck the very first night of the Finals and the very last day too, so the bull riders aren't going to get to start with anything soft. They're going to start with the toughest pen of bulls there is."
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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