THACKERVILLE, Okla. – H.D. Page was a little bit curious after watching his World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser look a little less explosive at the PRCA rodeo in Lawton, Oklahoma, in early August.
“He bucked good, but he didn’t have the same fire and explosion like I am used to him having,” Page recalled.
So after doing some thinking, Page decided to try bucking Bruiser from a right-handed delivery.
The 6-year-old bull had lost some weight while out on cows this summer and had shown some tendencies of wanting to turn back to the right, so maybe that could be a good changeup?
Well, Cole Melancon certainly liked the idea. Melancon rode Bruiser for the second year in a row, this time for 90 points at the Caldwell, Idaho, rodeo three weeks ago.
“We bucked him out of the right to see what he would do,” Page said this week. “He never had been bucked out of the right. He was good, but the kid rode him. He turned into the gate, to the right and was pretty good.
“I just kind of wanted to see what he wanted to do. He kind of wanted to. I wanted to give him an opportunity to see if he likes it over there or not.”
Page is set to bring Bruiser (31-8, BFTS) back to his comfort zone on Saturday night for the 15/15 Bucking Battle at the WinStar World Casino & Resort Invitational in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Bruiser will be a left-handed delivery for his showdown against 2012 PRCA champion Cody Teel.
Teel lasted only 2.69 seconds on Bruiser during his Built Ford Tough Series debut this February at Iron Cowboy.
“He is in the left for Thackerville. I might try him back at the right, but I am going to let him get back in his groove. Maybe after the Finals next year we will try him on the right (at a BFTS event) a time or two and see what is going on. We will play it by ear. If I think it will help him, I would do it.”
Bruiser may not need much help at all when it comes down to the 2017 World Champion Bull race.
The No. 2 bull in the World Champion Bull standings trails No. 1 Pearl Harbor by a little more than a quarter of a point (46.28 to 46).
A bull’s World Champion Bull average is based off his top eight BFTS outs.
Bruiser is averaging a career-best 45.89 points in nine BFTS outs this year.
Thackerville will be Bruiser’s first BFTS action since being ridden by two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney for 94.25 points in Billings, Montana, this past April.
Page isn’t concerned about Bruiser being a step off his game this summer either.
The longtime stock contractor compared Bruiser’s performance to that of a prized fighter that has to lose a bunch of weight to qualify for a fight.
In Bruiser’s case, he had lost a good amount of weight from being out on cows up the road in Ardmore, Oklahoma, which is only 30 minutes north of Thackerville, but he has since gained 4-5 pounds every day for the last three weeks.
“When you jerk them off them cows, they are just not on the muscle,” Page said. “He just isn’t as good of shape as he was. Kind of imagine a fighter having to drop weight for a fight. They just don’t have the energy they are used to having with the weight they usually carry around. I think that is what is going on.
“He is not in tip-top shape, but he is getting there. He looks a ton better. He will be back in prime (shape) before too long.”
A score of 45.5 points or higher on Saturday night will allow Bruiser to drop his eighth-lowest bull score of the year (45.25 points).
The World Champion Bull will be determined based on the Top 8 outs during PBR Built Ford Tough Series regular-season events, plus two outs at the PBR 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 WCBB bonus.
There is also a $25,000 prize for the top performing bull in the final regular-season standings, while second-place will take home $10,000.
Page isn’t paying much attention at all to the standings, though. He knows this race is going to come down to the final two outs at the World Finals.
“(Pearl Harbor and Bruiser) are both really good bulls in their own right,” he said. “It will come down to which one is on top of their game in Vegas. They are going to go in there close enough, that it is going to be anybody’s game once we get there.”
And about that small deficit in the standings?
“That can change in a hurry,” Page said.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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