PUEBLO, Colo. – H.D. Page knew his bull SweetPro’s Bruiser deserved the PRCA’s Bull of the Year award. He just wasn’t going to hold his breath and get his hopes up.
A year after admittedly thinking Bruiser had the 2016 award in the bag, Page kept his expectations quiet this year.
Low and behold, the riders of the PRCA made sure Bruiser was recognized as he should be following another stellar rodeo run.
The PRCA announced earlier this week that Bruiser was voted the 2017 PRCA Bull of the Year.
“All you can do is put yourself in the position to win it,” Page said. “Bruiser is good enough, and the bull riders appreciate the style enough. I thought we had a good chance, but I had heard no talk about it. I went into it last year thinking I had it in the bag, so I wasn’t expecting it. I was dang sure happy he did.”
Like he has done throughout his PBR run, Bruiser, who was runner-up for 2016 PRCA Bull of the Year, rewarded the two riders that were able to convert aboard him in the PRCA.
Roscoe Jarboe rode Bruiser for 91 points in San Antonio in February, and Cole Melancon hit 90 points on the 6-year-old superstar in Caldwell, Idaho.
Melancon will be making his PBR debut this weekend at the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour Finals as a special invite for winning the 2017 collegiate bull riding championship.
Melancon will be looking to make a name for himself in the PBR this weekend, while Bruiser has already done that and much more.
The reigning PBR World Champion Bull is set to defend his world title next week at the 2017 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals. Bruiser begins the Finals ranked No. 2 in the World Champion Bull race, but he is only .04 points behind current world No. 1 Pearl Harbor.
If Bruiser were to win the 2017 PBR World Championship, he would join 1995 PBR World Champion Bodacious as the only bulls to win top bull honors in the PRCA and PBR in the same season.
“It will be a huge accomplishment,” said PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert. “The difference is in the PBR they win it in the arena. In the PRCA, they win it in the ballot box. Bruiser is no doubt the best bull in the PRCA. There is no doubt about it, but he was last year too and was runner-up.”
The 2017 PBR World Champion Bull is determined based on the Top 8 outs during the Built Ford Tough Series regular season plus two outs at the World Finals. The bull with the highest average bull score across those 10 outs will be crowned the World Champion and earn the $100,000 bonus.
Bulls drop their lowest bull scores if they have more than eight outs on their record.
Pearl Harbor and Bruiser will first buck at the World Finals during Round 2.
Page admitted he hadn’t put much thought into the possibility yet.
Well, I don’t know,” he said. “I would love for it to happen. It would be great. It would be real great in 15-20 years from now to look back and reminisce.”
Bruiser has a great chance at pulling off the historical feat after having a career-year on the Built Ford Tough Series.
The D&H Cattle Company stalwart is averaging a career-best 45.95 points per out and went 10-4 in the regular season.
Current PBR world leader Derek Kolbaba owns two of the four qualified rides aboard Bruiser this year and won the Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, BFTS events with 93 and 90-point rides.
“If I ever have a chance to pick him, I am going to pick him no matter what,” Kolbaba said. “He deserves it because he has been the one going down the road. He has had a lot of outs this year and he has bucked every time.”
Stormy Wing (95.25 points in Albuquerque, New Mexico) and J.B. Mauney (94.25 points in Billings, Montana) were the only other two riders to reach 8 seconds on Bruiser in 2017.
Bruiser has been an absolute workhorse since debuting as a 3-year-old in 2014. According to ProBullstats.com, the 2015 ABBI Classic Champion has bucked 82 times at all levels of competition and been ridden just 15 times. Following his two expected outs at the 2017 World Finals, Bruiser will have bucked in 20-plus outs for the third consecutive season.
“He is just as tough as he can be,” Page said. “If you think about how I have put it on him since he was 2 years old to date, he has never missed. In fact, he has almost knocked out the same track to date. You hear people talk about those bulls that enjoy what they do and I think that is his deal.
“He has figured out what he does, and he enjoys it and is good at it.”
Now the question becomes whether or not Bruiser can once again dig deep like he did a year ago in T-Mobile Arena and leave Las Vegas as the PBR World Champion.
Not only would he tie Bodacious in the record books, but a second consecutive world title would make Bruiser only the fourth bull in PBR history to successfully defend his crown.
Page expects he and Bruiser to Las Vegas with the $100,000 championship on Nov. 5.
“Right now I almost expect him to excel, but I am his biggest fan,” Page concluded. “I almost expect him to win both deals. I feel like he has the best shot to do it. It is hard. I don’t want to sound too prideful or whatever, but anything short of him winning it, I would be disappointed. Not in his performance, I know he will bring it. It will be up to the judges. Either way, I won’t be disappointed in Bruiser, but I would be disappointed.
“I really don’t expect much less than that.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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