Here are three things we learned from the Ty Murray Invitational, presented by Isleta Resort & Casino, this weekend at Dreamstyle Arena, aka The Pit.
SweetPro’s Bruiser erupts for 47.25 points
So how hard was SweetPro’s Bruiser bucking on Sunday afternoon?
Hard enough that Brennon Eldred felt his knee pop during his valiant attempt at riding the two-time World Champion Bull.
Eldred’s effort couldn’t overcome the brute strength of Bruiser, though, as his attempt to win the Ty Murray Invitational came down in 4.71 seconds.
“He just got my chin picked up right out of there, and he got me sitting back there on my ass,” Eldred said. “I just could never get back to the front and he was bucking too hard today to make any mistakes.”
Bruiser tied a career-high by being marked 47.25 points as his back legs kicked high above the chutes with Eldred toppling over to the ground.
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said he scored Bruiser 48 points.
“I thought he was still underscored,” Lambert said. “He is always great, but he had a special day today. It was better than most trips.”
Bruiser was last marked 47.25 points last year in Springfield, Missouri, when he knocked out eventual World Champion Jess Lockwood.
Eldred said he partially tore his MCL on Sunday and said the out with Bruiser was one of the rankest he has ever been a part of.
“I would say that trip right there was pretty honky,” Eldred said. “That was a lot. One of the strongest and hardest bucking ones I have ever been on.”
The 7-year-old bovine superstar is gaining steam right now in the World Champion Bull race.
Bruiser’s stiffest competition Pearl Harbor fouled himself with Cody Teel on Sunday, while Bruiser has been scored 45.75 points or higher in four consecutive weekends and is leading the World Champion Bull race with a 45.75-point average.
“He is definitely in bucking shape,” Lambert said.
Nance is victorious in Albuquerque a year after coming up short
One year ago, Cody Nance bucked off his championship-round bull (BC Circular Insanity) and wound up finishing second at the Ty Murray Invitational.
Nance didn’t let a second opportunity pass him by this weekend.
The 30-year-old conquered Carrot Top for 85.75 points in the championship round and then watched on as Bruiser demolished Eldred and Cody Teel rode Alligator Arms for only 85.25 points to cement Nance his second victory of the season.
“I came down short last year, but thankfully not this year,” Nance said. “To win this event is a huge honor to me, especially after being runner-up last year.”
Nance credited Ryan Dirteater and Troy Wilkinson for helping him make his decision to select Carrot Top with the second pick of the championship-round draft.
“I had never been on him, and I didn’t know who he was,” Nance said. “Ryan Dirteater and Troy Wilkinson were up there talking about what I should pick and we looked up a video of him. He looked like he had great timing and went around to the left. Today, when they run him up in the front chute he didn’t have no room to go left. He jumped out there and spun right away from my hand. I was right there and I am blessed it worked.”
Nance earned 637.5 points toward the world standings and is now the No. 3 rider in the world standings.
The Paris, Tennessee, native is only 154.17 points behind world leader Ramon de Lima heading into next weekend’s Ak-Chin Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, in Glendale, Arizona.
Nance earned 80 of those points when he tied Jose Vitor Leme for the Round 3 win with an 89-point ride on More Big Bucks.
The ride was the best of his flawless weekend.
Nance began the three-day event with 85.5 points on Chingus Dumingusand 86.5 points on The Don.
“To be able to come back and ride all of my bulls was a step up from last year, and I feel like that is what I want to do,” Nance said. “Step up every time I get on one.”
Rounding out the Top 5 was Teel (4-for-4, 294.2 world points), Leme (3-for-4, 287.5 world points), Eldred (3-for-4, 245 world points) and three-time World Champion Silvano Alves (4-for-4, 236.7 world points).
Alves began Sunday 45th in the world standings and leaves Dreamstyle Arena back inside the Top 30 at No. 26.
Leme wins both rounds on Championship Sunday for season-best finish
Jose Vitor Leme’s 7.84-second buckoff against Big Black Cat in Round 2 ultimately cost him a chance at the event win, but the 2017 Rookie of the Year still put forth his best performance of the season on Sunday.
Leme rode Shelley’s Gangster for 89 points to tie with Nance for the Round 3 victory before knocking off a home run aboard Bad Beagle to win the championship round.
Bad Beagle turned into Leme’s left hand and the 21-year-old then began throwing his free arm in perfect timing with the Phenom Genetics superstar bull for a season-best 91.25 points.
“I had him a couple of weeks ago and he got me bucked off real quick,” Leme said with the help of Paulo Crimber translating. “Today, I saw him kind of getting left over in the draft and I thought I am going to take him and get that revenge.”
Leme selected Bad Beagle with the fifth pick in the draft.
“I was a little patient and took him jump for jump and got it done,” Leme added. “I am happy.”
Sunday was the first time Leme had surpassed the 90-point threshold since he rode Magic Train for 94.75 points to win the 2017 PBR World Finals.
The two round wins in Albuquerque propelled Leme to a third-place finish overall (3-for-4, 287.5 world points) and his best finish of 2018 pushed him to No. 10 in the world standings.
Leme’s good friend Luciano de Castro became the latest World Champion contender to get hit by the injury curse that has been ravaging the Top 10 of the world standings.
The No. 2 bull rider rode Acting Crazy for 87 points in Round 3, but Castro was unable to compete in the championship round after spraining his right MCL during the ride, according to Dr. Tandy Freeman.
Castro is going to get an MRI on Tuesday in Dallas to see if he has a lateral meniscus tear.
The 21-year-old trails Lima by only 40 points in the world standings.
According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Lucas Divino (sprained left MCL) and Paulo Lima (dislocated right thumb, possible fracture) competed with injuries on Sunday.
Divino went 3-for-4 in Albuquerque, highlighted by his 88.25-point ride on Magic Train in the championship round.
Guilherme Marchi and Nathan Burtenshaw did not compete on Sunday because of concussions. Marchi is doubtful for Glendale, while Burtenshaw is listed as questionable.
Jesus thriving in front of Albuquerque crowd
Native American invite Cody Jesus is by far the crowd favorite inside The Pit, but the Window Rock, Arizona, native also has a huge group of friends and family cheering him on back home.
The Pit nearly erupted following Jesus’s 87.75-point ride on Hot Habanero, but so too did his phone.
By the time Jesus made the climb up the 63 steps that lead to the locker room, Jesus’s phone was vibrating nonstop.
“I was walking up the steps and I checked my phone and I had like 100 or something notifications on my Facebook and Instagram,” Jesus said. “50 text messages and I don’t know how many in my Facebook messenger.”
The Najavo bull rider is still in disbelief over how many fans in Albuquerque are cheering him on as a whole.
Normally, he is the one visiting the region and watching on at some local youth bull ridings.
“There are a bunch of my fans here,” Jesus said. “A lot of local bull ridings. That is what I go to. To see a lot of them kids at them junior deals. I kind of hang out with them when I have free time. Now that I am here, they are coming to watch me.”
Jesus is a perfect 2-for-2 so far and is sitting in second-place heading into Championship Sunday.
The 19-year-old added that he is OK after coming up a little banged up during his get-off.
“I saw Derek (Kolbaba) got on him and I knew that bull had a little bit of suck back to him,” Jesus said. “On the video, it didn’t look like he had much, but when I called for him he started backing up underneath me and when I started going to town I got three good spurs. After that, he wanted me over his shoulder a little bit. The get-off part was the scariest part. He didn’t throw me away like most bulls do. He threw me in the air.”
Jesus finished tied for third in Round 2 with Juan Carlos Contreras (87.75 points on Roy’s Boy) and has earned 75 world points this weekend to move up to 67th in the rankings after beginning the weekend unranked.
Contreras is also 2-for-2 and is sitting in fifth-place in the event average.
Jesus will take on Red Bandana (25-5, PBR UTB) in Round 3.
A qualified ride would put Jesus one step closer to potentially winning his first career event.
“Oh man, I don’t think I would even have words,” Jesus concluded. “It would be life-changing to win this event.”
Eldred knows the prestige behind potentially winning the Ty Murray Invitational
It has been a long, frustrating road for Brennon Eldred as he continuously waits for that first career victory.
Eldred’s 88.25 ride on Mac’s Barbeque won him Round 2 on Saturday night, and the 23-year-old heads into Round 3 a perfect 2-for-2 and atop the event leaderboard
“That bull bucked me off the other day in Kansas City so I had to get a little revenge on him,” Eldred said. “It was huge. I did exactly what I came here to do and wanted to do. To get that one rode and be 88 points is pretty special to me.”
Eldred earned 100 world points and is ranked 20th in the world standings.
Rounding out the Top 5 in Round 2 behind Eldred was Keyshawn Whitehorse (88 points on Sitting Bull), Contreras, Jesus and Paulo Lima(87.25 points on Wicked Stick).
Eldred understands the prestige that would come with winning the Ty Murray Invitational.
He takes on Chocolate Shake (14-6, PBR UTB) in Round 3.
“This is the 22nd anniversary,” Eldred said. “I grew up watching this place on TV. Here at The Pit. The energy in this building. Anytime I get to come to New Mexico and ride is awesome. I get excited. I know the fans come to cheer us on and it fires me up.”
Alves not concerned of world standing, but could make huge jump Sunday
There are three additional riders a perfect 2-for-2 in Albuquerque – Cody Teel, Cody Nance and Silvano Alves.
Alves is in sixth place in the event average following his 84.25 points on Terror Struck in Round 2.
“Right now, I am just trying to stay comfortable,” Alves said Friday night in Round 1. “I know I can ride these bulls. I don’t need to think of pressure. I just need to ride my bulls.”
The three-time World Champion has been struggling tremendously in 2018 and has even had to use World Champion exemptions recently to still be eligible to compete on Unleash The Beast.
The No. 45 ranked bull rider is 95.83 points behind No. 35 Brady Olesonheading into Championship Sunday, but Alves could soar up the standings with an event victory.
Just last year, Stormy Wing won the Ty Murray Invitational to go from 33rd to No. 10.
Alves said he isn’t paying attention to the chatter about where he is at in the standings, though.
“No. I am very happy,” he said. “I thank God. God has a plan for everybody. Sometimes his decision for me is to stay outside the Top 35. It is just important for me that my body is healthy and I feel great. No injuries. Nothing. I just want to ride my bulls.”
Alves faces Big Slick (7-1, PBR UTB) in Round 3.
The 30-year-old also said he doesn’t need to change or fix anything.
He feels like his time is coming.
“I don’t need to practice too hard,” he said. “Normally I go to the gym and I ride two bulls in the week. I just need to wait and prepare for my time.”
2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi rode Chute Boss for 86.25 points, but had to be attended to by the PBR Sports Medicine team after he was hit in the head by the bull’s horn at the 8-second mark. Dr. Tandy Freeman diagnosed Marchi with a concussion and a sprained right sternoclavicular joint and listed Marchi as doubtful for Round 3.
Nathan Burtenshaw is questionable for Round 3 after sustaining a concussion attempting to ride Livin’ Large.
Buttar ties for round win despite missing equipment
Dakota Buttar took every precaution necessary with his equipment this week after having multiple incidents in 2018 where his gear was either stolen by a mysterious thief or lost by the airlines.
However, this weekend it was his own human error.
Buttar forgot to bring his elbow brace with him to the arena for Round 1 after packing the brace in his carry-on for his flight from Canada to Albuquerque.
The good news, though, was that Buttar did just fine with his elbow taped by the PBR Sports Medicine team instead of being locked into his brace.
Buttar tied for the round victory with 2017 World Champion Jess Lockwoodby beginning the night with an 88.25-point ride on Kmag YoYo.
“I didn’t realize I didn’t have it until 20 minutes before it started,” Buttar said with a laugh. “I left it at the hotel. Other than that, everything else felt good. I have taped it before like this so it was OK.”
Buttar picked up 80 world points for splitting the round victory and moves up to 23rd in the standings.
“I seen Keyshawn (Whitehorse) ride him a couple weeks ago and he was just pretty good,” Buttar said. “He did the exact same thing. He felt good today. He went around the right and back into my hand.”
The 25-year-old did sustain a neck strain during his dismount, but said he would be fine for his Round 2 matchup against Talking Smack (6-1, PBR UTB).
“I didn’t look over my shoulder when I got off,” Buttar said. “I kind of rolled to the side and it kind of made me push my head into the dirt and I kind of pinched my neck.”
Lockwood makes the most of his debut at The Pit
Reigning PBR World Champion Jess Lockwood is in his third year on the premier series, but he had never competed in the famous Pit before Friday night.
Lockwood wasn’t on tour yet during his 2016 Rookie of the Year campaign, while last year Lockwood missed the event because of a torn groin.
The 20-year-old sure loved how loud The Pit got following his 88.25-point effort aboard Bar Thirty One.
“This is the coolest thing,” Lockwood said on RidePass. “A lot of our events look the exact same. This is different. You don’t get bored of the PBRs. They are the best, but it is nice to have a changeup.”
Lockwood has ridden four of his last seven and has risen to 12th in the world standings.
The Volborg, Montana, bull rider won the world title last year in part because of nine round wins, but Friday night was only his second round win of 2018.
He will go for his third of the season when he takes on Short Night (7-2, PBR UTB) in Round 2.
Lockwood attempted to ride Short Night during the championship round of the 2017 PBR World Finals and was awarded a re-ride.
Fans can watch Round 2 exclusively on RidePass beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Burtenshaw fights through groin injury to crack Top 35; alternates rise up
Nathan Burtenshaw insists he isn’t concerned or worried about where he is in the world standings, but his gutsy 86.75-point ride on Dirt Man Do helped him get one step further ahead of the cutline.
Burtenshaw converted on his re-ride despite a left groin injury he sustained last week in Duluth, Georgia, during his 85.25-point ride on No Excuses.
The 23-year-old moved up four spots in the standings to No. 32 after beginning the round at No. 36.
“I am freaking sore,” Burtenshaw said. “You have to try and win every freaking round. That is what you have to do. My groin is getting worse.”
In fact, seven of the 16 rides in Round 1 came from riders that began the evening ranked outside the Top 35. No. 97 Cody Jesus (86.25 points on War Party), No. 41 Fernando Henrique Novais (85.25 points on Little Red Jacket), No. 46 Colten Jesse (85.25 points on Rodeo Time), No. 42 Lucas Divino (85 points on Alligator Arms), No. 44 Silvano Alves (84.75 points on Last Chance) and No. 39 Ueberson Duarte (44.75 points on Hot Damn).
Duarte turned down his re-ride because of an undisclosed injury.
Jesus is the Native American invite at the Ty Murray Invitational for the second consecutive year and the 19-year-old was relieved to get that first qualified ride after going getting blanked in 2017.
“Oh I couldn’t believe it,” Jesus said. “When I jumped up on the fence, I thought I didn’t make it until I heard I was 86 points. That is when all the nerves went away.”
Jesse, 20 years old, picked up the third ride of his career on Saturday.
“You know you can ride every one, but sometimes you get ahead of yourself. These three-day deals you have to really slow down and have fun,” Jesse said. “When I first showed up, I was really trying too hard trying to win. Shoot, I just relaxed and started doing my own thing.”
Burtenshaw said his groin won’t hold him out for Round 2.
He has drawn Livin Large (13-3, PBR UTB) for Round 2.
“When you want to be at the top, you have to fight through some things,” Burtenshaw said. “It is what it is.”
Burtenshaw leads group of 14 looking to crack Top 35
Nathan Burtenshaw understands the importance of earning world points toward achieving his ultimate goal of riding at the 25th PBR World Finals: Unleash The Beast, but he also learned last year that he can’t stress out about where he stands in the world standings every day.
“I am just going to worry about tomorrow and take it one step at a time,” Burtenshaw said. “That is what gets it done really. I went last year to the end of the year, trying to make the World Finals. Trying to do this. I went away from my gameplan and it didn’t work out for me. I have to stick to my guns and do what I have to do.”
Burtenshaw leads a group of 14 hungry riders outside of the Top 35 that hope to take advantage of injuries atop the world standings and make their own significant move this weekend at the Ty Murray Invitational, presented by Isleta Resort & Casino.
The 23-year-old Australian bucked off his last two bulls at the Duluth Invitational following an 85.25-point ride on No Excuses.
Regardless, Burtenshaw has surged to the top of the alternate list courtesy of four consecutive rides on the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour, including an 80-point ride on Sam to win the Hampton, Virginia, Velocity Tour event, two weeks ago.
Burtenshaw is No. 36 in the world standings and only 10 points behind No. 35 Juan Carlos Contreras heading into the competition Friday night at Dreamstyle Arena, aka The Pit, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“I feel confident,” Burtenshaw said in Duluth. “I come over and went straight into Chicago. That was my first event and I had been on two bulls in three months. I threw myself into the deep end to see what I was made of. I rode some bulls. I didn’t do poor. I just didn’t pick up points.”
Burtenshaw began the 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast 2-for-10 before losing his spot on the premier series and headed to the Velocity Tour.
The Coonamble, Australia, native is 5-for-6 on the Velocity Tour and his 190 points at that level has him on the cusp of cracking the Top 35.
Burtenshaw will take on Big City (1-0, PBR UTB) in Round 1.
Last year, Burtenshaw finished 42nd in the world standings and failed to qualify for the 2017 PBR World Finals.
“It is pretty motivating,” Burtenshaw said. “I didn’t complete what I wanted to do. This year I want to be more in the Top 15 where I don’t have to worry about that. Be there to where I can contend to win more.”
He then continued, “It was kind of frustrating, but at the same time I tried to not let it get to me. It was more mentally frustrating. It is stuff that gets thrown at you and you learn to deal with it. I learned to stay on the task. Not to keep worrying about the points and all that stuff. Worry about riding your bulls and achieve your goals and the rest will take care of itself.”
There are plenty of riders with the opportunity during this weekend’s three-day Ty Murray Invitational to take a big step forward and earn a full-time spot on the Unleash The Beast.
There are 11 riders inside the Top 35 not competing in Albuquerque – No. 4 Dener Barbosa (right foot surgery), No. 7 Cooper Davis (partially torn ligament in his right ring finger), No. 10 Derek Kolbaba (torn right ACL/MCL), No. 12 Stetson Lawrence (broken ankle), No. 13 Gage Gay(reconstructive right knee surgery), No. 18 Emilio Resende (calf), No. 22 Fabiano Vieira (concussion), No. 25 J.B. Mauney (right shoulder, right groin and right rib), No. 27 Alex Marcilio (sprained riding wrist), No. 29 Fraser Babbington (personal decision), No. 32 Aaron Kleier (personal decision).
Therefore, No. 38 Paulo Lima, No. 39 Ueberson Duarte, No. 40 Michael Lane, No. 41 Fernando Henrique Novais, No. 42 Lucas Divino, No. 43Reese Cates, No. 44 Silvano Alves, No. 44 Rubens Barbosa, No. 46 Colten Jesse and No. 48 Bryan Titman are in the draw as alternates.
No. 48 Ryan Miller (Velocity Tour exemption), No. 150 Alejandro Gamboa Calvo (Mexico invite), and Cody Jesus (Native American invite) are also in the draw.
Only 105 points separates the riders between Contreras and Miller.
Lane, Divino, Calvo and Jesus are making their Unleash The Beast season-debuts.
Lane is 7-for-12 on the Velocity Tour and is coming off a victory at the Dayton, Ohio, event last weekend.
The Tazewell, Virginia, bull rider has drawn Bad Manners (2-0, PBR UTB) for Round 1.
Divino is 42nd in the world thanks to a strong fall run in Australia, where he won two events and went 8-for-14. He went 1-for-2 last weekend at the Texarkana, Arkansas, Touring Pro Division event.
However, the 24-year-old will be interesting to keep an eye on as he finished runner-up to Jose Vitor Leme last year in PBR Brazil. Divino was 31-for-46 in 12 PBR Brazil events with two wins, five Top-5s and eight Top-10s.
Divino was the 2014 Rookie of the Year in the Circuito Rancho Primavera tour in Brazil.
The Nova Crixas, Brazil, native takes on Alligator Arms (20-7, PBR UTB) in Round 1 during his premier series debut.
Also making the first appearance of his career on the PBR’s highest stage is Calvo.
Calvo went 0-for-2 for Team Mexico at the Global Cup in Edmonton, Alberta, and is 9-for-36 in his career at all levels of PBR competition.
The 27-year-old and 2015 PBR Mexico champion faces Knotted Diamond (2-1, PBR UTB) on Friday night.