In the bull pen: Bismarck

Apollo Stripes will be in the short round on Friday and Saturday in Bismarck, N.D. Photo by Andy Watson /


  • Chad Berger has loaded up the short rounds for this weekend's DCB PBR Bull Riding Challenge in Bismarck, N.D.
  • J.W. Harris is set to face Bushwacker on Friday night at the Bismarck Civic Center for a chance to win $100,000.
  • Fans can watch the event exclusively on PBR LIVE.

In This Article

BISMARCK, N.D.  Chad Berger’s hometown Touring Pro Division event in Bismarck, North Dakota, is known for attracting the top riders and featuring the top bulls. Just about every year, Bismarck draws the top riders from the Built Ford Tough Series, and several 90-point rides are typically recorded over the course of the two-day event. It’s been the site of memorable rides in past years, and it’s set to live up to its reputation as one of the PBR’s hottest summer stops.

Bismarck is Berger’s signature event, and he puts a lot of work into making sure it’s a first-class production.

“I try to make it so when you leave there you think you’ve just watched a Built Ford Tough level event,” said Berger. “We bring in Clint Adkins, Frank Newsom and Flint Rasmussen, and we try to make it as close to a BFTS event as possible. We’ll get about every rider in the Top 40 – if they are in the U.S. and healthy, they’ll be in Bismarck. I’ve got as good a pen of bulls right now as I’ve ever had, and we’ll be loaded with good bulls.”

In the long rounds in Bismarck, Berger has quite a few relatively new bulls that will be appearing. Berger has been busy building up the strength of his herd over the past six months and there will be a number of up-and-coming buckers at this event.

“I’ve bought a lot of bulls all winter long and through the spring, said Berger. “It’s a time consuming process. I watch bulls all the time, and it takes time to find one that has real potential, and then be able to work a deal for him. I’ve got three bulls set for the long rounds here that I think are going to end up being Built Ford Tough Series short-round caliber bulls. They are in the long go here, because they are just making their debut, and the short round is already pretty stacked. Bull 1152 (Justified), 077 (Brick House), and 308 (Al Capone) are all pretty special. With the event being streamed on PBR LIVE, I think by the end of the weekend those three bulls will be pretty well known.”

In the short rounds both nights, Berger has a stout set of bulls lined up for the Top 15 riders including Smackdown, Apollo Stripes, Modified Clyde and Berger’s top bull so far this season – War Pony’s Fire & Smoke.

“Fire & Smoke has been great this year,” said Berger. “I truly believe that unless he stubs a toe somewhere he will be one of the Top 5 bulls for bull of the year this year. He’s just that caliber of bull. He keeps getting better. A lot of the riders really speak highly of him. He’s got everything that makes a bull great, and watching him go sends shivers up my spine. I’m really proud of him.”

Fire & Smoke bucks off Cody Nance in 3.25 seconds, earning a bull score of 46.50 points, in the championship round of the 2014 BFTS Des Moines Invitational in Des Moines, Iowa. 

Smackdown is the most famous bull in Berger’s string right now, and he’s just six outs away from reaching 100 hundred career outs in the PBR – a milestone that very few bulls pass. Less than one half of one percent of bucking bulls ever reach 100 professional level outs in their careers.

“I’ve had a lot of great bulls over the years,” Berger said. “But Smackdown has been real special to me. He gives 100 percent every time. He’s been off a notch this year, but he had a cracked horn that got infected earlier this year. We’ve got that straightened out now, and he’s put on some weight, and looks shiny and healthy. I’m hoping he does well here, and finishes the season strong. After the Finals, his job will be to hang around with some cows here.”

Of top of Berger’s outstanding pen of bulls, Bushwacker will also be on hand in Bismarck to face off with J.W. Harris with $100,000 on the line. Berger thinks that Harris has a legit shot at claiming the bounty on the PBR’s top bull.

“If there’s anybody out there that has a chance to ride Bushwacker, it is Harris,” said Berger. “He’s not going to let Bushwacker’s reputation beat him.  If I was going to compare anyone to Justin McBride, it would be J.W. Harris. You could watch film of both of them and have a hard time guessing which one is which. They have the same kind of style, and that’s the kind of style it takes to ride a bull like Bushwacker. If Harris can get the job done, it will turn that indoor building into an outdoor building, because they’ll blow the roof off that joint.”

You can catch all the action and check out Berger’s full herd of bulls on PBR LIVE June 13-14 at 8:30 PM ET each night.  Click here for more information.

Follow Slade Long on Twitter  @ProBullStats

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