Here are three things we learned from the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden this weekend at Madison Square Garden.
Joao Ricardo Vieira gets revenge against Cochise (1-7-18)
Joao Ricardo Vieira and his world title aspirations took a step back in 2017, but the 33-year-old took a close-to-major step forward with his first event of 2018.
Less than 48 hours after Cochise bucked him off in a quick 2.25 seconds during the 15/15 Bucking Battle, Vieira bounced back by conquering Gene Owen and Jane Clark’s bovine athlete for 90.75 points to win the championship round.
The ride capped off a 3-for-4 showing and fourth-place finish at the season-opener for the PBR 25th Unleash The Beast Tour.
“This bull is very strong and hard,” Vieira said. “He has bucked me off two times ago. Today, I picked him and I said to myself, ‘I will ride him today.’
“I was focused and I want to ride the bulls all the time. I get so angry about the bulls bucking me off. I wanted to pick him and ride him.”
Vieira, who is riding with a partial PCL tear in his right knee, earned 255 world points in New York and will head into the Chicago Invitational next weekend sixth in the world standings.
“My knee is OK,” Vieira said. “I hurt it during the last event in Brazil in December. It hurts (mainly) when I get off.”
Vieira began his 2018 campaign with 81.5 points on Blue Duck and 85 points on Kookaburra. Vieira then bucked off Maximum Risk in 6.42 seconds in Round 3 on Sunday before bouncing back on Cochise.
The six-year pro is coming off his first non-Top-5 finish of his career (12th), but he still believes he can contend for that missing gold buckle.
“My mental and my body is young,” Vieira said. “My heart is young and it is not difficult to be 33, 34, 35 years old and be a World Champion. You just need a little luck and to ride better.”
Gage Gay wins first PBR Major of his career
The excitement and build up for the start of the 2018 season was swirling around J.B. Mauney’s historical run at 500 career rides and talk of Jess Lockwood making a bid to repeat as PBR World Champion.
However, it was Gage Gay stealing the thunder on Championship Sunday from the normal title contenders as his under-the-radar, 3-for-3 start in New York evolved into a sensational, event-winning 90-point ride on Cut the Cord.
Gay went to town on Cut the Cord on the second-to-final ride of the evening and then looked on as Valdiron de Oliveira rode Nailed for 86.25 points. He then confidently stared at the scoring monitor just passed rider to walk off and looked on as Oliveira’s score was not enough to knock Gay off the top of the leaderboard.
The Staley, North Carolina, cowboy walked away with a career-high $109,025.50, 700 world points and the world No. 1 ranking.
“It is the biggest paycheck I ever had,” Gay said.
Rounding out the Top 5 behind Gay and Oliveira, who were the only two riders to go 4-for-4, was Eduardo Aparecido (3-for-4, 303.3 world points), Vieira and Cooper Davis (2-for-4, 255 world points).
Davis had begun Championship Sunday in the event lead before bucking off All The Way Up (6.89 seconds) and Slinger Jr. (3.43 seconds).
The 2016 World Champion said after the event that he was OK after Slinger Jr. had stepped on his upper back/shoulder in the championship round.
Gay – the newly minted world leader – was a tactician in New York.
The 23-year-old quietly stayed in contention early on by riding Pneu Dart’s Sarge for 83.25 points in Round 1 and Biloxi Shores for 81 points in Round 2. The 23-year-old then moved up to second in the event average with 85 points on Luke in Round 3.
Still, none of those rides were anywhere near his 90-pointer on Cut the Cord.
Gay decided to pick the bull with the second pick of the championship round draft after previously watching his buddy Cooper Davis ride the bull two times for over 90 points.
It wasn’t all easy, though, as Gay was slammed onto his back right at the whistle.
“That was the first time a bull ever had me seeing stars,” Gay said. “He was a little more than I thought he was (going to be), but I had just enough to sneak by him.”
The ride was only Gay’s third 90 of his career, and it was his first since his standout rookie year in 2014.
Gay may have failed to live up to some of the expectations that first came around in 2014 when he finished a career-best 13th in the world standings, but he certainly appears ready to break out in 2018 after getting off to the best start of his five-year career.
“I am kind of back,” Gay said. “I am kind of a different guy. I am taking it a little more serious and started working out. I am treating it more like a job. When I was younger, it was easier. Now I am not getting old, but I have to work for it.”
Lockwood and Leme struggle in first event following historic World Finals
Two of the biggest winners of the 2017 PBR World Finals – Jess Lockwoodand Jose Vitor Leme – had a tough start to the 2018 season inside Madison Square Garden.
Lockwood – the reigning World Champion – and Leme – the 2017 World Finals winner – went a combined 2-for-6 at the PBR Major and 15/15 Bucking Battle.
Leme made an impressive 87-point ride on Mystikal during the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Friday night for a fourth-place finish, but the 21-year-old went 0-for-3 in the overall event.
The 2017 Rookie of the Year was on track for a good score on GOOD RIDES Jailhouse Jr. in Round 3 until he got a little too wild with his free arm and got head-butted at the 7.09-second mark. Leme also bucked off Nailed (3.11 seconds) in Round 1 and Twinkle Toes (5.73 seconds) in Round 2.
According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Leme sprained his left small finger (radial MCP
joint) attempting to ride Twinkle Toes.
joint) attempting to ride Twinkle Toes.
Meanwhile, Lockwood was able to end New York on a good note and wipe the frustration off his face via an 87-point ride on Force Awaken.
Lockwood finished third in the round for 60 world points, but failed to qualify for the championship round.
The Volborg, Montana, bull rider had bucked off Pneu Dart’s Doomsday(4.88 seconds), Seven Dust (5.8 seconds) and Last Chance (5.61 seconds) in his first action as the defending World Champion.
Lockwood said prior to the event Sunday that he was going to head home to Montana and spend some time with the family after having a hectic week in New York doing a PBR media blitz before regrouping and hitting the road for Chicago.
Stormy Wing sustained a concussion in Round 3 during his 3.43-second buckoff against Clemon Time. Wing remained down in the arena for a couple of minutes before walking off the dirt with the assistance of the PBR’s sports medicine team.
Pacheco wins Round 2 aboard familiar foe (1-6-18)
Kaique Pacheco began to laugh outside of the locker room when asked if thought about possibly asking Gene Owen if he could buy Little Red Jacketafter the 23-year-old converted aboard veteran bovine athlete the third time to win a premier series round.
“I really like this bull,” Pacheco said. “He bucks good. He pulls to the front all the time, but he is a real good bull. I love riding him.”
Pacheco’s intense glare at Little Red Jacket inside the arena following his 87.5-point ride was also a stark reminder that the 2016 Rookie of the Year is fully recovered from a partially torn right groin and is ready to once again contend for a world title for the fourth consecutive year.
Three years of world title shortcomings aren’t going to affect him in 2018 it appears.
Pacheco has opened the PBR 25th Unleash the Beast tour by winning two of the three rounds inside Madison Square Garden when you include his 87.75-point ride on Moto Moto in the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Friday night.
The 2015 Rookie of the Year only won four rounds at the premiere series level last season.
And don’t look now, but Pacheco is once again atop the very, early world standings with 275 world points.
Moto Moto was also another rematch for Pacheco, who is a perfect 3-for-3 against another one of Owen’s bovine athletes.
Pacheco said that when it comes to bulls that he has ridden before successfully, he doesn’t necessarily watch videos of his previous rides leading into his matchup. Instead, those rides are vivid memories inside of his brain.
“I remember,” Pacheco said. “I remember the videos. I have seen them a lot of times before. I didn’t want any of Little Red Jacket or Moto Moto before this weekend.”
Cooper Davis on pace to win second career PBR Major
The man that defeated Kaique Pacheco for the 2016 world title appears to be ready for his own World Championship run in 2018.
Cooper Davis bounced back from a 7.94-second buckoff against Cut the Cord in the 15/15 Bucking Battle to ride Spin Machine for 86 points in Round 2 and head into Championship Sunday a perfect 2-for-2 atop the event average.
The Jasper, Texas, cowboy appeared to have Cut the Cord knocked out of the park Friday night before he got a little too carried away spurring and lost control of his body.
Davis didn’t let his missed opportunity against Cut the Cord faze him.
Nor will he let it change him he says.
“I am not changing my game up to fit them,” Davis said. “They can take it as it comes. When I am having fun, I am going to spur bulls. When I am not, I am going to sit on my butt and fall off. You are going to win some and lose some that way, but if you are having fun it will work out.”
Davis once again went to spurring on Spin Machine in Round 2, this time making sure he made it to the full 8 seconds.
For the most part, is is working so far for Davis.
A night after winning Round 1 with 89.75 points on Ram It, Davis tied with Claudio Montanha Jr. (86 points on Shazam) to earn 55 points toward the world standings.
Cody Campbell was second in Round 2 for 75 world points with 86.5 points on Roll of the Dice.
Davis did learn something from his Cut the Cord buckoff, though.
“To spur a little harder and shove my butt to my rope,” Davis quipped. “That is what I didn’t do last night. I let my foot come up in the air, but it didn’t come down with my butt attached to my rope.
“I let a good one get away, but I rather go out doing something like that instead of sitting on my butt waiting for the whistle. If you are going to fall off one, you better go out trying to be more points than what you would have done if you are sitting there.”
Byrne looking to capitalize on Championship Sunday
Tanner Byrne knew when he stepped foot inside Madison Square Garden this weekend that he has 10 bulls at most to try and earn a spot within the Top 35 of the world standings and stay on the PBR 25th Unleash the Beast tour.
So far, Byrne has gotten the job done with two consecutive bull rides, and he will enter Championship Sunday sitting in third place.
“It is huge,” Byrne said. “This is a very prestigious event. Madison Square Garden. Growing up watching it on TV is one you always wanted to be at. I love coming here and in the past I have done well here. I came into this weekend with a fresh mind, fresh year and let everything in the past be in the past.
“I am starting fresh and believe in myself. I know I have what it takes to be here again.”
Byrne is trying to get back on tour after a broken collarbone a week before the 2017 season-opener, a torn groin later in the year and a nagging wrist injury limited resulted in a 101st finish in the world standings. Byrne also struggled last year with losing close friend Ty Pozzobon, who passed away at the beginning of the season.
He will have two more injury exemptions remaining following this weekend.
At Madison Square Garden, Byrne has looked like his prior self through two rounds.
Byrne began the weekend with an 82.5-point ride on Black Ice in Round 1 before riding Switch Hitter for 85.5 points in Round 2 for a fifth-place finish and 40 world points.
“The bones and ligaments that were all torn up and broken last year are healed and now it is back to bull riding again. There are always some bumps and bruises, but that is part of the game.”
He is sitting third in the event average (168 points) behind Davis (2-for-2, 175.75 points) and Dener Barbosa (2-for-2, 168.25)
An event win is always the goal, and a PBR Major event average win in New York pays out 625 points toward the world standings, but Byrne knows he needs a fast start and points toward the standings ASAP if he wants to avoid being cut.
Byrne will also be making the trip to Denver this week for the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to try an earn additional points.
“Coming into this weekend, I haven’t been on a bunch of bulls,” Byrne said. “Even last year, when I would come back I would only get on two or three and never got that momentum back and feeling of confidence riding. I want to get on as much as I can. I have been sitting at home and watching all these guys go and ride.
“I want to get points, get that money and go get that World Championship.”
According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Robson Palermo is out for the remainder of competition after sustaining a facial laceration in Round 1 attempting to ride Dream Catcher.
Palermo had to get over 40 stitches at a local hospital to close the massive gash on his left cheek.
Davis wins Round 1 in New York; thankful for PBR chartered flight (1-5-18)
2016 World Champion Cooper Davis was in the same boat as the majority of PBR riders and staff trying to get to New York on Thursday.
He was stranded.
As the hours began to tick by on Thursday afternoon, PBR CEO Sean Gleason was working alongside the PBR’s Corporate Services Travel Manager Melissa Patterson and Melissa Henricks, the PBR’s Vice President of Athlete Initiatives & Development, to find a way to help get over 50 riders and PBR employees that were stranded all across the United States because of the winter storm that was blasting the Big Apple ahead of the PBR’s season opener.
The PBR was able to secure three chartered airplanes to pick up 29 riders and staff that were stuck in Dallas and North Carolina and get them to New York on Friday morning in time for the Buck Off at the Garden.
Davis was one of the riders that would not have made it in time to the event, and he certainly would not have won Round 1 if not for the PBR’s effort to get the cowboys to the city safely.
“That was cool because that was my only option to get here,” Davis said. “I had a flight that was supposed to be here (Friday) at 1 o’clock today and it got cancelled. I started scrounging and Melissa and Sean found a way to get us all here. It was the nicest plane I have ever been on.”
Davis showed no signs of jet lag on Friday night either, riding Ram It for 89.75 points to win Round 1 of the PBR Major event.
“He was really bucking and I just had to keep letting my outside foot go to work,” Davis said. “It was cold and it loosened me up. I feel good.”
Davis has made it a goal in 2018 to make sure he starts the year off on the right foot.
He picked up 125 points toward the world standings with the round victory and will take on Spin Machine (1-8, premier series) in Round 2 on Saturday night.
“It was very important to get that one down,” Davis said. “I have been getting on my Buck Rite and hadn’t been on a bull. I just felt good. I didn’t think about it being a Major until now. They are important, but you have to treat it just like any other event.”
Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney and Dakota Buttar tied for second place in Round 1 with 87.25-point efforts for 67.5 world points.
Mauney’s ride aboard All The Way Up was the 500th of his career, while Buttar covered GOOD RIDE’s Jailhouse Jr.
Ryan Dirteater rode Tractor Tippin for 87 points and a fourth-place finish (50 world points) and alternate Alex Marcilio converted on his re-ride – Cooper’s Comet – for 84.75 points and a fifth-place finish (40 world points).
Pacheco wins first 15/15 Bucking Battle of the Year
Kaique Pacheco took a nice cat nap on the PBR chartered flight to New York Friday morning, and the sleeping giant that came up short of a World Championship last year awoke for 87.75 points on Moto Moto to win the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
“I am very happy to win the 15/15,” Pacheco said. “I rode a very good bull. This is the third time I rode him and I have rode him all three times. I am very happy to start the year good because last year I hurt my leg. Now I am back and better.”
Pacheco was able to bounce back from bucking off Tin Lizzie in 5.03 seconds during Round 1 after nearly being disqualified inside the bucking chutes.
The 23-year-old wasn’t fazed though and he was able to record his first qualified ride since undergoing treatment in the offseason for a partially torn right groin that he tried to ride through for the majority of the 2017 season.
Pacheco, who finished fifth in the world title race last year, spent three weeks rehabbing in Brazil. Two of those weeks included daily, 12-hour therapy sessions with renowned Brazilian physiotherapist Nivaldo Baldo.
Baldo has helped various Brazilian bull riders, including 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi, three-time World Champion Adriano Moraesand 10-time World Finals qualifier Valdiron de Oliveira recover from injuries.
Baldo has also worked as a physiotherapist of the Brazilian delegation at the XII Pan-American Games in Winnipeg in 1999, the World University Games in Kobe, Japan, in 1985, the Pan American Games in Edmonton in 1983 and the Brazilian U-23 national soccer team in Toulon, France, in 1983.
“We worked from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for two weeks,” Pacheco said. “I also work with Felipe Garcia, my friend too, for another week.”
Pacheco earned 150 world points for the 15/15 Bucking Battle victory.
Rounding out the Top 5 in the 15/15 Bucking Battle were Mauney (87.5 points on Breaking Bad), Cody Teel (87.5 points on Hedoo), Jose Vitor Leme (87 points on Mystikal) and Eduardo Aparecido (76.5 points on Mar-A-Lago) and Dener Barbosa (76.5 points on Wiley).
Aparecido and Barbosa turned down re-ride options.
Oliveira returns with qualified ride; Caminhas bucks off
Valdiron de Oliveira didn’t waste any time in reaching the 8-second mark in his return to PBR competition.
In his first premier series event since unretiring in November, Oliveira, who had originally retired following the 2016 PBR World Finals, rode Sam for 82.5 points in Round 1.
“This event is very special because I have won it twice,” Oliveira said. “I told my wife I am ready to come back and win this event. I will try hard this week, get some points and do my best. I am ready for my next bull.”
The 38-year-old tied for 10th place in the round and will take on Hoss (0-0, premier series) in Round 2 on Saturday night.
2002 World Champion Ednei Caminhas also returned to the premier series for the first time since 2010.
Caminhas bucked off KIMES RANCH JEANS OZZY in 4.57 seconds and is now the oldest rider (42 years, 3 months) to ever compete on the premier series.
He has drawn Hustlin Kitty (1-0, premier series) for Round 2.
New York draw notes: Who is in and out (1-3-18)
2002 World Champion Ednei Caminhas, three-time World Finals event winner Robson Palermo, 10-time World Finals qualifier Valdiron de Oliveira, three-time Glen Keeley award winner Tanner Byrne and 2008 Rookie of the Year Reese Cates are five of the eight alternates competing at this weekend’s PBR Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden.
Based on the PBR rulebook, riders that placed 1-30 in the 2017 world standings are guaranteed eight events before being subject to the cutline, while riders ranked 31-35 are guaranteed five events before being subject to being cut.
Therefore, until the sixth event of the 2018 season (Kansas City, Missouri), all alternates for the PBR 25th Anniversary Tour events will be based on the 2017 world standings point totals plus the 2018 world standing point totals following any riders with injury exemptions.
Caminhas has the most to gain/lose in New York as he is competing with only one exemption courtesy of his victory at the Tucson, Arizona, Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event last year.
Meanwhile, Palermo and Cates begin the year with two injury exemptions.
Palermo only competed in six Premier Series events in 2017 because of a left knee and right shoulder injury. The 35-year-old also dealt with depression and thought about walking away from bull riding all together.
Palermo has drawn Dream Catcher (2-0, Premier Series) for Round 1. Dream Catcher bucked off Palermo last year in Jacksonville, Florida, in 4.33 seconds.
Cates was limited in the first half of 2017 because of a right shoulder injury, but his bid to return to the Premier Series in the second half was completely altered in the summer when he broke his left elbow and tore ligaments at a June PBR Canada event.
The 28-year-old went 6-for-30 in 12 Premier Series events prior to the elbow injury and is trying to return to the World Finals for the first time since 2015, which included Cates’ winning the season-opener in Baltimore.
Cates went 0-for-2 at two Velocity Tour events in November and decided to go work with Gary Leffew last week after admitting the last month “felt rough.”
The tune-up at Leffew’s has Cates feeling prepared for New York.
“Yeah, it was good,” Cates said via text message on Wednesday. “Worked on leaving out of the gate a little different to keep from getting beat the first jump.”
Tanner Byrne has three remaining injury exemptions to start the year after an injury-riddled 2017.
2017 began with Byrne breaking his collarbone in the practice pen a week before the season-opener. A torn groin later in the year and a wrist injury wound up ultimately limiting him to only five Premier Series events.
Despite finishing 101st in the world standings, Byrne believes he is finally healthy for the start of 2018 after admitting he returned to soon from the injuries at time last year.
Byrne is only 4-for-15 since returning to competition for the 2017 Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour Finals.
“I went to Australia and stayed on one over there and was able to get that feeling and timing back. I think that was the biggest thing, just not being on bulls for so long and then only getting on not very many last year. (It) didn’t really give me the chance to get that timing and feeling back, the confidence of staying on.”
Byrne has drawn 400 Black Ice (0-2, Premier Series) for Round 1.
Valdiron de Oliveira was given five exemptions for the PBR’s top tour by PBR CEO Sean Gleason after deciding to unretire in October. He has gone 4-for-9 on the Velocity Tour so far.
Oliveira would have had eight exemptions last year based on his 25th-place finish in the 2017 world standings, but decided to retire.
The 38-year-old is set to face Sam (10-5, Premier Series) on Friday night.
2017 PBR Mexico champion Francisco Morales is competing in New York and Chicago after being given two exemptions from the PBR.
Alex Marcilio and Troy Wilkinson are the final two alternates competing in New York.
There are five riders not competing in New York because of injuries: J.W. Harris (groin), Koal Livingston (shoulder surgery), Matt Triplett (shoulder surgery), Chase Outlaw (shoulder surgery) and Brennon Eldred (groin).
Outlaw is hopeful he will be cleared in time to return for the WinStar World Casino & Resort Iron Cowboy on Feb. 24, while Triplett is eyeing a return in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on April 6.
Livingston will be out for six months. Harris did not offer the PBR competition department a timetable.
Some riders that finished within the Top 35 of the 2017 world standings will not be competing in New York.
Four-time PRCA champion Sage Kimzey has turned down his five exemptions as he would be unable to compete at all of the PBR’s 25thAnniversary Tour events because of his rodeo schedule.
“I would have to miss a couple of events and the way that the rules are now, I would be suspended for a year as soon as that happened,” Kimzey told PBR.com via text.
Kimzey was referencing rule’s 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124.
Rule 126.96.36.199 states that the Top 30 highest-ranked members in the PBR world point rankings have to compete in each PBR Premier Series event they qualify unless they have an injury or are excused by the PBR’s Executive Competition Committee. If a rider is ranked in the Top 30 and skips an event without approval, they would they be suspended from the PBR’s top tour for a calendar year, according to rule 188.8.131.52.
2004 World Champion Mike Lee also informed the PBR competition department he would not be competing in the PBR in 2018 and is focusing his bull riding career in other associations.
Lee made the announcement public in November via his Facebook account.
“Last Finals in the PBR. 2017. Blessed to ride. Thank you to my family and friends for all the years standing by me.”