Black and Blue

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Black Pearl may not be as experienced as some of the other contenders for the Professional Bull Riders World Champion Bull title.

But youth is on his side, and that goes a long way in a race that demands incredible athleticism.

During the PBR World Finals performance on Sunday night, the 4-year-old bovine moved into second place in the 2009 World Champion Bull race after turning in a score of 46.25 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Code Blue, who performed Saturday night, turned in a 46.75.

Meanwhile, the PBR also crowned its Bull Team Challenge champion for the second consecutive year. A team called Mandan Mafia, which includes the 2008 Stock Contractor of the Year award winners Chad Berger and Clay Struve, clinched the title.

The Mandan Mafia received the coveted $115,000 winner's prize.

The PBR will crown its World Champion Bull Sunday after all 10 contenders have performed three times.

The first round was conducted during the Saturday and Sunday performances. Eight of the contenders, including Big Tex and Voodoo Child (who are tied for third with a 46), were out Saturday night. The other two contenders were on the card Sunday afternoon.

Black Pearl and Crosswired were up in the Sunday matinee because they also were competing in the American Bucking Bulls Inc., Classic Division, a competition that’s showcasing the sport’s top 3- and 4-year-old animals.

The Classic Division title will be settled Thursday night, and the winning bull owner will walk away with $250,000.

In the Classic competition, Black Pearl, owned by the Ravenscroft/Boyd-Floyd Bull Co., won the first (long) round lead by turning in a score of 92.75. A bull named Top Notch, owned by Martinez Bucking Bulls, is ranked second with a 90.75.

They will advance to the ABBI Classic final round, which will be held in conjunction with the PBR World Finals Round 4.

Black Pearl earned the lofty score after helping Brazilian Robson Palermo win the World Finals’ third round in the Built Ford Tough Series competition. Palermo received a score of 92.25.

After Palermo stayed on for the 8-second count, Black Pearl’s record over the past two years is four qualified rides in eight attempts.

Palermo, the PBR’s 2008 World Finals average winner, said Black Pearl is one challenging bull to stay on.

“He’s a really rank bull who is quick,” Palermo said. “I love bulls like him that turn back to the left.”

World title race leader Kody Lostroh,  who was bucked off of Black Pearl at a Ford Series tour stop in Reno, Nev., said the bull is very tough.

“The bull really bucks hard,” Lostroh said. “He gets in the air as he spins. He does the same thing every time he bucks, but cowboys still have a hard time riding him. You know you have a great bull when the bull does not have any tricks and the guys know what they are going to do, but they still can’t ride him.”

Cody Lambert, the PBR’s longtime livestock director, said Black Pearl commanded respect when he bucked off Lostroh at the Nevada tour stop.

“When he bucked off Kody Lostroh in Reno, he looked like a World-Champion-caliber bull,” Lambert said. “He’s a bull that sometimes has trouble getting out the chute clean, but when he does, he’s as good as anything.”

Toby Floyd of Stephenville, Texas, who is a co-owner of Black Pearl, said the bull is very rideable. But he added that a cowboy must work overly hard to stay on.

“He’s a cowboy-friendly bull, but he gives you everything that he has,” Floyd said. “I think cowboys will ride him fairly often, but when they do, they’ll be around 92 to 93 points.”

Floyd accepted a trophy buckle during an awards ceremony in the arena after the Round Three performance. The 2009 Bull Team Challenge award also was given after the Sunday show and Berger accepted the $115,000 check for the Mandan Mafia. Their team of bulls includes Code Blue, Copperhead Slinger and Big Tex.

Berger said one big reason that Mandan Mafia won was because they opted to place Code Blue on the team.

“When we acquired a half interest in Code Blue, I really thought at that time that we were going to be the team to beat,” Berger said. “Anything can happen and anybody can get beat any given day. But I just felt real strong that we had a set of bulls that would make us win.”

— by Brett Hoffman

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