Title contenders

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The Top 40 bull riders aren’t the only ones gunning for a world title.

So are the hundreds of bovine athletes competing over the course of this year’s Built Ford Tough Series.

With only four of 31 events remaining before the “Road to Vegas” makes its way to the 2009 PBR World Finals, a trio of bull riders – Kody Lostroh, J.B. Mauney and Guilherme Marchi – have separated themselves from the rest of the challengers.  So too have a number of bulls.

Bones and Chicken on a Chain have both had great years, and as former World Champions, they are the likely favorites to make the Top 5, along with Big Tex, Code Blue, Spit Fire, Uncle Buck (who, until he was recently renamed, was known as I’m a Gangster) and Voodoo Child.

“You can make a strong case for anyone of them to be the best,” said PBR Livestock Director Cody Lambert, who added that each one has something different to offer. “I could tell you a story of why he should win it, and believe it.”

Another trio of bulls – Troubadour, Black Pearl and White Magic – could also factor into some of the selections from the riders.

The top riders in the world will each select their favorites, and the five with the most votes will then compete in three rounds at the Finals. The bull with the highest cumulative score will be named this year’s World Champion.

In alphabetical order, Lambert made a case for seven contenders.

Big Tex: “I was wrong about that bull. He’s way better than I thought he was. I thought he was the most overhyped bull I’d ever seen, and then I saw Guilherme Marchi ride him and then I saw how Big Tex answered to that. He got a little stronger and a little better. Guilherme was the only rider strong enough to ride him on that particular day, and he picked him again and rode him two seconds. That bull bucks.”

Bones: “Bones is the man. You can buck him on either side, it doesn’t matter. You can put somebody on him who spends a long time in the chute, that pulls a tight rope, that pulls his rope loose, a big guy, a small guy. Bones isn’t that big of a bull, but he’s deceivingly strong and he’s a competitor. Bones has his best days with his best guys on him. When J.B. Mauney rode him in Oklahoma City…that was something special.”

Chicken on a Chain: “He’s huge. All the other bulls look like calves compared to him. He’s a specimen. He’s like Shaquille O’Neil stepping out on the basketball court. All the other players are big – they’re six-foot-something – but they’re not as big as he is. Chicken on a Chain has that appearance. He has an awe factor to him. They all have a swagger and confidence about them, you can see it, but Chicken on a Chain stands out because of his look.”

Code Blue: “He reminds me a lot of Big Tex, because the first time I saw him I wasn’t impressed, but he just keeps getting the job done. He keeps bucking ‘em off. His owners don’t think he’s ever going to be ridden, and that just shows they’re inexperienced, because all of them are going to be ridden if you keep bringing them to the PBR. He’s one of those bulls that has shown up every time and he’s had a lot of the top guys on him.”

Spit Fire: “He has a bucking style that’s a little more dangerous than other bulls because he’ll whip you out over his head. He’s such a thick, heavy bull that to spin fast he has to swing his head back and forth, left to right, to get momentum. He’s not swinging it at the rider, but he has pretty big horns, so if he whips a rider over his head – like he did Matt Bohon – a horn could hit him. There’s no way he’s as athletic as Bones and Voodoo Child, but he does everything he can.”

Uncle Buck (formerly I’m a Gangster): “Whatever they want to call him, he’s as strong as they get. He can be as good as anything out there. The only thing that has held him back is sometimes he turns back so sharp that he runs into the bucking chutes. If he can get one jump out into that arena before he starts turning back, he’s as tough to ride as they get.”

Voodoo Child: “He’s a two-time champion in the PRCA. No one rode him in the PRCA and no one, except for Justin McBride, rode him in the PBR. He was going to both PBR and PRCA events and now he’s focusing strictly on the PBR. He’s had Kody Lostroh and he’s had J.B. Mauney, but Justin McBride was the only one who could ride him.”

NEWS and NOTES

Road to Vegas:
All roads are leading to Las Vegas! The Built Ford Tough Series is in Springfield this weekend, but at this time of the season the PBR is all about the World Finals, which is Oct. 30 through Nov. 8. Call 866-PBR-SHOW for ticket information or log onto www.unlvtickets.com to order your tickets for what will be one of the tightest finishes for the world title.

PBR NOW: The PBR proudly announces another way to get your adrenaline fix – a weekly television show devoted exclusively to the Toughest Sport on Earth. RFD-TV – carried on all major cable providers – presents PBR NOW, a regular half-hour studio show hosted by Justin McKee, J.W. Hart and Justin McBride, airing Thursdays at noon and 10 p.m. Eastern.

Worldwide leader in sports: After reading all the content – Web features, blogs and Podcasts – at www.pbrnow.com, fans can get even more coverage from ESPN by logging onto www.espnbullriding.com.

Tweet, tweet: Be sure to follow the PBR on Twitter at www.twitter.com/teampbr.

— by Keith Ryan Cartwright

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