DENVER – Taylor Toves achieved a childhood dream last November when he earned a Wild Card bid to the 2017 PBR World Finals courtesy of his 4-for-4 performance at the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour Finals.
Toves then notched his first ride at the World Finals when he covered Beans & Cornbread for 84.5 points in the third round.
“Man, it was a dream come true and it was everything I imagined,” Toves said at the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Denver PBR Chute Out on Tuesday night. “It was everything I wanted to do since I was a little baby. I am blessed and thankful to have the opportunity.”
The Stephenville, Texas, native will never forget the roar of the crowd inside T-Mobile Arena on that Friday night, but Toves admitted that his first Finals was also a ‘reality check.’
“Absolutely,” Toves agreed. “It was kind of a reality check because I got one rode. You have to take stuff like that in stride and keep on rolling. I proved it to myself that I can make it there and that I belong there. Now it is fueling the fire to get back.”
Toves was so fired up to make it back to the 2018 World Finals that he has entered every Velocity Tour event since the 2018 season began on Nov. 11 in Ontario, California.
The only problem?
Toves bucked off all nine of his bulls until finally breaking through on Tuesday night with a smooth 86 points aboard Mac’s Barbeque away from his hand.
“He wasn’t standing very good in there, but it worked out,” Toves said. “He kind of had me falling over, and I felt like I had to cut him off all the time.”
The ride was the highest-scored of the night in Denver, and Toves will head into the championship finale on Wednesday third in the event behind Paulo Lima (87.5 points) and Zane Cook (86.5 points), who both rode on Monday.
Toves let out a big sigh of relief when the subject of his buckoff streak came up.
“It has been rough,” Toves said. “It has been real horrible. I just haven’t been finishing anything. I rode one right to the whistle in Oakland the other day and it finally got me some confidence back I guess. I am glad it is finally going now.”
The winner of the Denver event on Wednesday will receive an exemption to the WinStar World Casino and Resort Iron Cowboy, powered by Kawasaki, on Feb. 24.
“That would be awesome,” Toves said. “That is what we are here for. Everybody is here to try and win it and get to go to whatever big one it is. If it happens to be the Iron Cowboy, even better.”
Reigning Velocity Tour champion Alex Marcilio was hot on Toves’ heels in Denver with 85.5 points on Chute Boss.
Marcilio is making his Velocity debut this week in Denver after finishing the 25th PBR: Unleash the Beast season-opener in 15th place.
“I asked Rubens (Barbosa) about the bull,” Marcilio said with the help of Barbosa translating. “Rubens rode this bull twice. I am happy to also make a good ride.”
Winston Lopez and Cody Teel tied for third place Tuesday with 84.5 points on Dennis and Jungle Can Do, respectively.
Lopez made his premier series debut at Iron Cowboy two years ago and is licking his chops at the thought of riding once again in his home state on the PBR’s grandest stage.
“That would be a good one,” Lopez said. “I felt kind of lazy tonight. (Dennis) kind of hesitated coming out and it kind of threw me off. I started kicking loose and kind of came back to it.”
Ezekiel Mitchell (83 points on Pain and Wreck) and Tanner Byrne (83 points on U-Joint) tied for fifth place on Tuesday.
Round 1 in Denver was split over the course of two days of competition.
The Top 30 riders ranked by score, and then buck off time, will return on Wednesday night for Round 2. The Top 15 riders in the event average will then ride in the championship round.
The Top 5 heading into Wednesday is Lima, Cook, Toves, Marcilio and then a three-way tie between Coy Robbins, Mitchell and Byrne.
Toves advanced to the final night last year only to buck off his second bull.
“That is another one of them deals that fuels the fire,” Toves said. “You want to do better here. Any time you are around those guys. J.B. (Mauney) Silvano (Alves). All them guys. You just have to come back down. Everyone belongs here. You just have to make it happen.”
Mauney dealing with multiple injuries ahead of Chicago
Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney turned 31 years old on Tuesday and was bucked off by Burn It Down in 1.72 seconds.
As he did in New York, Mauney once again came up favoring his right groin.
Mauney was diagnosed with Dr. Tandy Freeman in New York with a strained right groin and abdomen when he was bucked off by Shownuff in the championship round.
It is the latest injury for Mauney, who is still recovering from reconstructive right shoulder surgery.
“I will be alright,” Mauney responded as he walked to the locker room following his buckoff in Denver.
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