PUEBLO, Colo. – 2004 World Champion Mike Lee has been on over 1,000 bulls over the course of his 15-year Built Ford Tough Series career. In other words, Lee has a pretty good barometer when it comes to judging bulls with the naked eye, as well as after attempting to ride the rankest bulls in the world.
It is why even though Lee has not attempted to ride SweetPro’s Bruiser in the past two years, he is very much aware that the D&H Cattle Company bull is very, very different than the one he rode for a highlight-reel making 91 points at the 2014 Touring Pro Division event in Decatur, Texas.
At the time, that was Bruiser’s fourth out of his career and he was a young 3-year-old bovine that no one knew much about at all.
Now Bruiser is 5 years old, the 2015 ABBI Classic Champion and the 2015 runner-up to World Champion SweetPro’s Long John.
Some even believe Bruiser may be able to usurp Long John and Jared Allen’s Air Time and win the 2016 World Champion Bull title.
In its simplest terms, Bruiser is no longer a baby bull. He is a beast.
“The Touring Pros have these young bulls trying to make it, but there is a big difference between a 4-year-old and a 5-year-old,” Lee said in Decatur, Texas, last month. “It is like a teenager that thinks he is a badass and one that is a full grown man. When Bruiser was a calf, I rode him and he didn’t have near as much down to him. Now that he is big, he is twice as more powerful than he used to be. He grew up and became a man.”
Bruiser the man was on full display this past Saturday in Guymon, Oklahoma, at the Kasey Hayes and Stormy Wing Touring Pro Division Invitational.
Bruiser bucked off Douglas Duncan in 2.87 seconds for a 47.5-point bull score.
It is the first time Bruiser had ever been marked 47 points or higher at a PBR sanctioned event.
“He was right out there and really leaped in the air,” stock contractor H.D. Page said via phone on Monday morning. “He jumped three or four-feet in the air and kicked. It was one of his best outs, for sure. He was as good as I have seen. That is about as rank as you can while dropping and kicking. He was meaning it.”
Bruiser broke to the left once the bucking chutes opened, which he normally does, but in Guymon the bovine superstar seemed to have a little more strength then normal and elongated his body in a full extension with each kick and jump.
For the most part, it was another honest trip from Bruiser and it was another example of how different he is from Air Time and Long John.
Long John bucked off Guymon event-winner Matt Werries in 3.28 seconds for a 46.5-point bull score in a special bonus round.
Air Time and Long John are more volatile and harder to ride based upon their unique bucking styles, while Bruiser is going to bring perfect timing nine times out of 10.
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said earlier this summer that, yes, Bruiser is honest, but that Bruiser is still so strong and fast that riders aren’t going to be able to just nod for the gate and hang on for 8 seconds.
It still takes a great rider to reach 8 seconds on Bruiser.
“Bruiser has perfect timing and is almost smooth,” Lambert said. “He is bucking so hard and in the air so high and so fast as he is spinning that he is a little tougher to ride than most bulls. But his timing is good and he has such a rhythm to him that I expect the great riders to be able to ride him.”
His current career-high bull score at the Built Ford Tough Series level is 46.5 points, which he set earlier this season with a 2.94-second buckoff of Eduardo Aparecido.
Bruiser is 7-1 this year on the BFTS and is averaging a career-high 45.28 points per out. Mason Lowe rode Bruiser for 91 points in Oklahoma City in his season debut and Bruiser has now bucked off seven consecutive riders.
“He has some notches in his pistol,” Page said.
Overall, he is 18-5 in his three-year career with a 45.14-point bull score. More impressive is that riders average 91.25 points on Bruiser when they successfully do reach 8 seconds.
“He is a consistent 22.5 to me, and every once in a while he will reach 23,” Page said. “The thing is every time he is going to be into the gate to the left. He has no phony bones. He isn’t going to hop, skip and go right out there after three jumps or whatever. Them guys know his pattern and what he is going to do. He isn’t going to change it up.”
In the meantime, Page is trying to get him to enough rodeos to qualify his bull, along with Long John, for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in December.
Bruiser bucked off Jeff Bertus (3.8 seconds) and Garrett Vig (2.1 seconds) for a 46-point and 45-point bull score, respectively, in Belle Fourche, South Dakota.
“I’m not much of a politician,” Page said. “If they want him there they will vote for him. I let my bulls do the talking.”
Page plans on breaking out Bruiser for the second half of the BFTS beginning with the Tulsa Express Employment Professionals Classic, presented by Osage Casino, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Aug. 27-28.
“I will get them to Tulsa, Thackerville and Springfield as long as they are healthy and doing good,” Page said. “Both of them bulls (Long John and Bruiser) are so explosive that it is hard to keep them 100 percent when they are giving that kind of effort. You need to give them a week between outs.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Throughout the month of July, PBR.com, and the PBR’s social media channels, will be featuring a variety of bulls in the race for the 2016 World Championship, as well as some of the other rankest bovines in the business.
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