BILLINGS, Mont. - Round 1 of the Billings Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, begins at 9:30 p.m. on RidePass.
Cannon Cravens on 100 Nailed:
Cravens has ridden only two of his last 12 bulls, but he’s a huge favorite here. Nailed is solid, veteran bull with one glaring weakness. He’s 6-14 in his career against right-handed riders. He’s also a great fit for Cravens’ style. This may not be a round win, but it should be a win for Cravens.
Keyshawn Whitehorse on W403 Freckles Brown:
This is almost certainly the bull that every right-handed rider here wanted to draw. He’s given up two 90+ point rides in his last three outs. Whitehorse is in perfect shape to do well here. He looks to have improved his game recently. He has struggled at times this season, but he’s on something of a hot streak right now.
Matt Triplett on W402 Jasper:
This bull has been impressive in the few times we’ve seen him this year. He is far from easy to ride, but Triplett has a track record of knocking off difficult bulls for round wins.
Silvano Alves on 32Y SweetPro’s Bruiser:
This isn’t an ideal matchup for either party. Bruiser has always been a slightly better fit for left-handed riders in general. While no rider would ever complain about drawing Bruiser, Alves has always preferred to have the easiest available bull to ride, and in this round that is not Bruiser. Alves certainly has the necessary talent to win here. If bull riding were solely a matter of physical ability, Alves would be a huge favorite, and he would also have more than three world titles. Few riders have his talent. Many riders have a much stronger mental game than Alves does right now.
On the other side of the match, Bruiser is here with one goal in mind – get big bull scores. In pursuit of that, Alves is the worst possible opponent for him. It is a long proven statistical fact that bulls score lower with Alves aboard than they do with other riders, and this is due at least in part to terrible chute procedure. Alves is either the worst rider in the history of the sport at getting out of the chute on any bull, or he is pretending to be.
Ryan Dirteater on 1206 Cut the Cord:
These two met four times in 2016-2017, and Dirteater was successful only in their last match at the 2017 World Finals. Cut the Cord is actually 22-1 against left-handed riders. Dirteater is the one and also three of the 22 in that record. Earlier in his career, Cut the Cord almost always went to the right, but these days he’s 50-50 depending on which side of the arena he’s on. He’s out of a right delivery here, and that may indicate he’s going to the right, which would give him an edge here. He’s harder to ride going away from the rider’s hand.
Luciano de Castro on 410 Catch My Drift:
This is one of several Canadian bulls out in Round 1. He can spin either way, but he’s not strong enough overall to be the favorite in this match. He should be well within Castro’s comfort zone. If he goes to the left, Castro is a huge favorite, and if he goes to the right, Castro is a slight favorite. The best-case scenario for Catch My Drift is for him to go one way then reverse it, because that has cost Castro more points and money this year than any other thing bulls have tried with him.
Jose Vitor Leme on W43 War Cry:
This bull threw Leme off in Tacoma, and he’s 14-1 against lefties overall. Leme is where he wants to be – at the top of the standings. To stay there through the end of the season, the recipe is simple. He needs to ride all of the bulls he’s supposed to and some of the ones he’s not. Ideally, he would be able to knock out qualified rides in one of every three matchups where the odds are even or against him. This is where many World Championship runs get derailed. There are only so many opportunities to beat the odds in a season, and this is one for Leme.
Ezekiel Mitchell on 623 Red Beard:
This is a nice draw for Mitchell. Rubens Barbosa won a round in Tacoma on this relatively new bull. Red Beard isn’t easy to ride, but a qualified ride means points and money for Mitchell here, and this bull should spin into his hand.
Joao Ricardo Vieira on 07 Home Grown:
Vieira recently went from the hottest guy on tour to one of the coldest, just like turning off a light switch, but he should warm up again tonight. Home Grown is a Canadian bull who is so into Vieira’s wheelhouse that it would be shocking if Vieira comes down. Cody Jesus won second in a round on Home Grown in Nampa.
Danilo Carlos Sobrinho on 3 Stunt Man Ray:
When a bull consistently produces 88 to 91 point scores and is also rideable, he’s a great draw. Stunt Man Ray is that kind of bull for right-handed riders. He’s 8-10 against righties. That stat is a little misleading because he has a knack for drawing the strongest right-handed riders in the world every time he goes anywhere. This bull is more than capable of slam dunking any rider, but he’s honest and has good timing, so he also gives every rider a fair chance.