Uncracked Code

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Cody Nance thought he could crack Code Blue.

When it came Nance’s time to handpick the bull he would face during the Round 5 draft last weekend at the Professional Bull Riders World Finals, the PBR’s top rookie believed he had the right combination to become the first cowboy to stay on the notorious bucking bull.

“I would have won the round if I had ridden him,” said Nance, who was bucked off of Code Blue in 4.3 seconds on Friday night. “But I made it only halfway.”

Nance helped Code Blue showcase his stalwart, high-kicking bucking pattern as the explosive spinner competed in the World Champion Bull race. During their matchup, Code Blue received a score of 45.5 en route to clinching the title.

Code Blue also turned in a first round score of 46.75 on Oct. 31 and a lofty third-round mark of 47.5 on Sunday. After all that, Code Blue clinched the 2009 World Champion Bull title with a three-ride aggregate tally of 140.75.

The title was based on an aggregate score after each of the 10 contestants had competed in three rounds. The final round was Sunday.

Code Blue, a light colored bull, edged second-place finisher Voodoo Child (owned by Jeff Robinson, Bar None, Beutler and Sons) by 1.25 points. Voodoo Child turned in a three-ride score of 139.5, and Big Tex (Dakota Rodeo/Clay Struve) came in third with a 138.75.

After performing throughout 2009, Code Blue finished with a 14-0 record against the cowboys in PBR Built Ford Tough Series competition.

“He’s a bucking son-of-a-gun,” said Nance, the PBR’s Daisy Rookie of the Year for 2009. “That bull, he’s got everything that it takes to be Bull of the Year. He’s real athletic and he’s big and strong and he’s got the attitude.”

The bull is co-owned by North Carolina stock contractors Rick Wagoner and Jimmy Walton. His other co-owners are Chad Berger and Clay Struve, who won the PBR’s Stock Contractor of the Year in 2009.

Code Blue debuted on the Ford Series, the PBR’s top-tier tour, in January in Winston-Salem, N.C. On that weekend, he bucked off Cody Campbell in Round 1 and Jared Farley in Round 2.

Since then, he’s bucked off Brazilian Renato Nunes three times and Ryan Dirteater twice. He’s also disqualified Ryan McConnel, Sean Willingham, Skeeter Kingsolver and Edimundo Gomes.

Code Blue clinched the 2009 World Champion Bull title after throwing off Austin Meier in 6.5 seconds during the PBR World Finals short round on Sunday.

“Everywhere that he’s gone, he’s shown up and has done his job to the best of his ability,” Berger said. “He’s never had a bad day.”

Berger said his firm bought an interest in Code Blue at the beginning of the season. But the high-profile stock contractor said he’s surprised the bull has gone unridden.

“He’s got me baffled,” Berger said. “I just figured that a guy like Renato Nunes or Chris Shivers, a guy whom he kind of fits their style, would have ridden him. He’s an amazing animal. He shoots forward and gets guys reared back and he whips them out of there.”

Nance was one of those guys. But the young cowboy still believes he can crack Code Blue. Just give him another chance.

“When I was on him, I just stepped ahead and he just outsmarted me,” Nance said. “I just got stretched out. But I still think I can ride him. If I didn‘t think I could, I wouldn’t get back on him.”

Walton said one reason the bull throws off so many cowboys is because he’s so intelligent.

“He’s smarter than people give him credit for,” Walton said. “But Rick (Wagoner) and I give him all of the credit because he’s just that type of bull.”

Struve said Code Blue has proven to be one tough bull to stay on.

“He’s an athlete,” Struve said. “He’s getting smarter as he goes. He’s very fair. He’s given us a good ride. If they stay on him, they’re going to set records with him. That’s what we’re looking for when we bring bulls to events. I’m thinking that we’re talking big, big points when the times comes.

“And that time will come. But right now, he’s getting better faster than they’re figuring him out.”

Ty Murray, a seven-time world all-around champion and a PBR founding father, said Code Blue has all of the qualities of a champion bucking bull.

“He’s the total package,” Murray said. “He’s big. He’s strong. He’s stout and he’s smart. He jumps high, kicks hard, spins fast.”

However, Murray said the day will come when a rider stays on Code Blue for the required 8 seconds.

“He’ll get rode,” Murray said. “Sometimes it takes people awhile to find out the combination. But if they keep running a bull in there, their combination is going to get found out.”

-by Brett Hoffman

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