LAS VEGAS – It’s the last day of the season for bulls and riders, and there is a lot on the line for both. None of the titles are decided yet. Jess Lockwood has the edge in the World Championship race, Bruiser has the edge in the World Champion Bull race, and Jose Vitor Leme is leading the event average here.
Brennon Eldred on +219 Blue Stone:
Blue Stone made his BFTS debut in Round 3 where Cooper Davis was 90 points on him. The bull was temporarily misplaced before Round 3 – they had some trouble locating him to bring him from the South Point Arena to T-Mobile Arena, and they weren’t sure he was even in Las Vegas. Ultimately he was found and it’s a good thing, because he was outstanding with Davis. Eldred should do well here – this bull has a good timing and should fit him well. Eldred is just one of a group of riders who are not in the World Championship Race, but are doing well in the average and could keep the average points out of the hands of the World Championship contenders.
Jose Vitor Leme on X18 More Big Bucks:
Leme had an outstanding ride in Round 3, but he was beaten by Jess Lockwood on this bull. He had first pick in this round, and wisely chose the bull that cost him the Round 3 win. More Big Bucks may be the best bull at the entire event for a left-handed rider because he typically produces short-round type scores, but he’s an average long-round bull in difficulty for lefties. Leme hasn’t been here long enough to learn that he’s not supposed to ride every single bull he gets on, and if you never buck off you may as well choose a bull that makes you look good if they let you pick.
Eduardo Aparecido on 136 Uncle Tink:
Aparecido hasn’t had the best week here in terms of the draw, but he may get a chance to make up some ground today. He’s ridden Uncle Tink before, but he also has a buckoff against him. Uncle Tink is a higher difficulty bull than More Big Bucks, but Aparecido should be able to handle him.
Sage Kimzey on 226Z Wired Crazy:
Kimzey had a high pick in the draft and he chose wisely. He’s ridden Wired crazy before – at a rodeo in 2015. This bull has good timing, and Kimzey looks unshakeable on every bull that has even timing. If Kimzey gets a score here he will get into the short round and get some of those average points the world leaders need.
Luciano de Castro on 279 Bottoms Up:
Castro is tied with Kimzey at 10th in the average, and is also playing spoiler in the average here. He will probably put another score on the board and move on to the short round in good shape. This is one of the better bulls in the round for a left-handed rider, and his difficulty level is lower than the BFTS average.
Ryan Dirteater on 819 Minion Stuart:
Dirteater is fourth in the average, and has a great matchup here. Dirteater has ridden Minion Stuart in round five in each of the last two World Finals for 86.5 (2015) and 87.25 (2016). So, this matchup is something of an annual tradition in Vegas. Mason Lowe rode this bull for 87.5 points last night.
Silvano Alves on 219 Tractor Tippin:
Alves has had a very good week so far, and he should be able to handle this bull. Tractor Tippin threw Cody Teel off in Round 3, but he’s statistically one of the better draws for a right-handed rider. Alves is yet another spoiler in the World Finals average.
Cooper Davis on Z8/8 Losing My Religion:
This will be a tough matchup for Davis. Losing My Religion has BFTS short-round level difficulty, but he’s in a long round here with quite a few easier bulls in the same draw. If Davis can hang on, he should pick up a high score, but this is a hard bull to ride.
Jess Lockwood on 567 Lester Gillis:
Lockwood should be favored here, but Lester Gillis does have a pretty high difficulty level. He will spin into Lockwood’s hand, but he spins harder than he bucks sometimes, and that can throw the rider’s timing off and get them loosened up. Almost all bulls that have this kind of style at a high performance level win more of their matchups than you would guess by watching them.
Cody Teel on B60 Handsome Jeff:
Teel could pick up a good check with this draw. Handsome Jeff typically goes to the left, but he’s one of the more rideable bulls in the round. He’s appeared at the BFTS level eight times this year, and he’s given up five qualified rides.
Derek Kolbaba on RK101 Slinger Jr.
Slinger Jr. may put an end to Kolbaba’s championship run here. This may be most difficult bull in the round. Kolbaba has been on him three times with no luck. Jose Vitor Leme rode him in Round 2, but Leme apparently never bucks off any bull.
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