The Professional Bull Riders’ top tier tour stopped in Tulsa during the past weekend. Like past years, Northeastern Oklahoma sports fans saw the world’s top bull riders take on the toughest bovines around.
But this isn’t just any year for the PBR. The world’s leading pro bull riding organization has been celebrating its silver anniversary throughout 2018.
This year, the association has a significant sponsorship deal with Monster Energy, which backs its top tier tour that’s called the 25th PBR: Unleash the Beast.
The PBR has been unleashing bulls and cowboys from of the bucking chutes from coast to coast, from New York to Billings, Mont., to Anaheim, Calif., and points in between.
Since its humble inaugural season in 1994, the PBR has capitalized on the fact that bull riding, which began as a rodeo event, became a prosperous stand-alone sport. Fans can watch the PBR on weekends on the CBS Sports Network. For the 16th consecutive year, the PBR world champion will receive a $1 million bonus on the final day of the World Finals in Las Vegas, which is scheduled for Nov. 7-11 at T-Mobile Arena.
Fans are drawn to bull riding for the same reason they’re attracted to NASCAR. It’s an easy-to-follow sport with an element of danger. PBR performances also feature rock music and pyrotechnics that wow the crowds during high energy performances.
“It’s the world’s most dangerous and exciting sport wrapped in a rock concert,” said Sean Gleason, the PBR’s chief executive officer. “And it’s just great family entertainment. We pack it in and you’re going to buy the whole seat, but you’re going to only use the front edge of it because you’re not going to be able to sit back and relax because it’s such an intense experience when you’re in the building.”
When the PBR was in Tulsa last weekend, the tour stopped in an area of the country where there are an abundance of cowboy sports fans. But the PBR also draws great crowds in markets with a low percentage of the population that grew up around the western lifestyle.
For example, the PBR’s tour stops in New York and Chicago earlier this year were well attended.
“We’ve had to work at it pretty hard over 25 years to really build the base,” Gleason said. “For example, this was our 12th year at Madison Square Garden [in January], and it took a number of years to really break through and get people to come out and give this sport a try and see if they enjoyed it. We win our fans one at a time, and so over time, we’ve built a great audience.”
At last weekend’s Tulsa tour stop, Jose Vitor Leme, a Brazilian who lives in Decatur, clinched the title after turning score of 90.5 on a bovine named Bottoms Up (TNT Bucking Bulls/Hart Cattle Co.) during the final round on Sunday. He earned $39,967.
Fabiano Vieira, another Brazilian who lives in Decatur, finished second and earned $16,447.
After clinching the Tulsa title, Leme is ranked No. 3 in the world title race 2,580 points, 370 behind Kaique Pacheco who has 2,950. Pacheco is a Brazilian who lives in Decatur.
This weekend, the tour stops in Nashville.
Tutor riding tough
Numerous world class pro rodeo competitors were in Lovington, N.M., last weekend to compete in the Lea County Fair & PRCA Rodeo.
One of them was 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Bill Tutor, a Huntsville cowboy who clinched the bareback riding title after turning in a score of 87 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Good Time Charlie.
Tutor earned $5,337. He’s ranked No. 3 in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s 2018 bareback riding world title race with $104,460 in regular season earnings.
Defending world all-around champion Tuf Cooper also finished in the money at the Lovington rodeo. He earned $1,003 after finishing fourth in the steer roping first round with a time of 11.9 seconds.
Last week was a busy week for Cooper who pocketed $1,699 after tying for first in the tie-down roping second round at the Aug. 8-11 Farm City Pro Rodeo in Hermiston, Ore., with an 8.3. Cooper also earned $4,907 (Canadian) for finishing second at the Aug. 3-6 Strathmore Stampede Rodeo in Strathmore, Alberta.
Twenty-three-time world champion Trevor Brazile, who lives in Decatur, pocketed $1,648 after winning the steer roping second round at the Aug. 8-11 Lovington rodeo with an 8.3. Brazile also won the tie-down roping second round at the Aug. 8-11 Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo in Sikeston, Mo., with a 7.7 and pocketed $1,625.
Brazile is ranked No. 2 in the PRCA’s world all-around title race with $142,749. Cooper, who has residences in Decatur, is ranked No. 1 in the world all-around race with $163,932. Cooper also is ranked No. 1 in the steer roping world standings with $75,408.
Jeff Askey of Athens, a 2016 National Finals qualifier, finished second in bull riding at the Sikeston rodeo with a score of 84 and earned $4,462. He’s ranked eighth in the PRCA’s 2018 bull riding title race with $80,283.
Cutting horse update
On the National Cutting Horse Association circuit, numerous world class aged event competitors are in Amarillo to compete in the Aug. 9-19 West Texas Futurity. Matt Miller and Carolina Reyn and Beau Galyean and Rolz Royce tied for first in the 4-year-old open division final round. Each rider turned in a 225. Thanks for Galyean also clinched the title in the 5- and 6-year-old open division title on Stevie Rey Von with a 225.
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Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has written a rodeo column for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram over the past quarter-century. Email him at email@example.com.