PUEBLO, Colo. – When it came to pure bull power in the first half of the Built Ford Tough Series, the conversation began and ended with Pearl Harbor. Chad Berger’s bovine juggernaut went wire-to-wire in the first half, ending with a BFTS-leading seven YETI “Built for the Wild” Bull of the Event titles.
Pearl Harbor was dominant in almost every one of his outs in the first half, quickly taking a firm hold of the top spot in the World Championship Bull race that will be tough to break come August. More important, Pearl Harbor could finally give Berger his first World Champion since Code Blue claimed the title in 2009.
As such, when it comes to the Top-5 bull scores of the first half, Pearl Harbor dominates the list. And so far, his only challenge to the throne is actually the current king, 2016 World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser.
Though Bruiser has surrendered more rides this season, each one lit up the scoreboard with three 90-point rides in the first half.
When the BFTS returns from hiatus Aug. 12-13 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the pair will challenge each other all the way to the 2017 Built Ford Tough World Finals at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena Nov. 1-5. You can be there to see the winner be crowned by purchasing your World Finals tickets now.
5. SweetPro’s Bruiser gets payback against Derek Kolbaba in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
When Derek Kolbaba settled into the chutes aboard Bruiser during the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 15/15 Bucking Battle, he did so with the confidence of his 92-point ride on him earlier this season in Oklahoma City. Though that was not an easy ride, Kolbaba knew he had the ability to get things done.
This time, though, Bruiser responded in kind. Bruiser tossed Kolbaba to the dirt in a mere 2.22 seconds for a 46.25-point bull score.
It was the fourth-consecutive out in which Bruiser posted a bull score of at least 46 points, and it was a brutal reminder that Bruiser can either be the best thing to happen to a rider or their worst nightmare.
4. Pearl Harbor welcomes J.B. Mauney back to the ground in Anaheim
The rivalry between Pearl Harbor and J.B. Mauney has been one of the best in the BFTS in recent memory, and when the pair met again in the championship round in Anaheim, California, Mauney’s spectacular 94.25-point trip in Sioux Falls last year was still fresh in his mind.
Pearl Harbor was quick to replace that memory with dirt when he slammed Mauney in 2.79 seconds, earning a 46.5-point bull score.
“We got to see an early preview of two greats,” two-time World Champion and CBS Sports Network commentator Justin McBride said. “Pearl Harbor is now definitely, with two huge scores, the front runner. Pearl Harbor is going to be tough to beat. He is going to be extremely tough to ride. J.B. was really frustrated with himself when he got up. He knew he picked his head up early and could have put out more effort, but do not take anything away from Pearl Harbor.”
True to form, Mauney was frustrated with himself for letting a prime opportunity slip through his fingers on a bull he has dazzled with before.
“I should have tried a lot harder,” Mauney said. “He did exactly what I expected. He bucked. If you are where you are supposed to be you can ride him all day long.”
Also true to form, he promised that the two would dance again.
“Mark my words,” Mauney said. “I will pick him again.”
3. Bruiser and Stormy Wing make history in Albuquerque
A truly great out happens when both the rider and their bull have their best days. And when a rider can expertly handle the moves a rank bull can throw at him, that’s when history happens.
When Stormy Wing entered his championship round matchup with Bruiser at the Ty Murray Invitational, not many people would have bet on the under-the-radar Wing. Up to that point, Wing had shown the talent to compete on the BFTS, but never had a breakthrough moment.
That was until he shocked the world and combined with the reigning World Champion Bull for a stunning 95.25 points. Bruiser did his part with a 46.75-point effort.
“He really bucked,” Dillon Page said. “Right at the end when he backed up, that is usually when he breaks and comes the other way. I think he was off a foot, but he still brought it back around.”
The ride was the fifth-highest numerical score in PBR history and carried Wing to his first BFTS event win of the season.
“It was rank man,” Wing said. “Rides like that are just a blur. You nod your head and you just move. I knew that bull. I have been on him before. I like H.D. and Dillon Page bulls. It just worked out.”
2. Pearl Harbor answers in Albuquerque
While Bruiser was busy making history with Stormy Wing, Pearl Harbor was far less giving. When his turn came up in the championship round of the Ty Murray Invitational he made sure to get his name in the headlines as well.
Pearl Harbor decimated Stetson Lawrence in 3.82 seconds to the tune of a 46.75-point bull score, tying Bruiser’s out with Wing and splitting the bull of the event title.
It was a less than fun experience for Lawrence, who was hung up and stepped on for his trouble.
“I got my ass handed to me,” Lawrence said. “He bucks. He is powerful. He hangs up in the air and drops. It is hard to get in time with him because you have to be slow, but fast at the same time.
It was Pearl Harbor’s fourth 46-point bull score to that point of the season and a painful reminder to Lawrence.
“He is legit,” Lawrence concluded.
1. Pearl Harbor sets a new high bar in Billings
Matt Triplett was riding high when he arrived in Billings, Montana, after winning his first BFTS event in nearly two years in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the previous weekend.
Pearl Harbor quickly grounded the Montana cowboy in 1.98 seconds, throwing in a forceful stomp as a cherry on top. The out resulted in a 47.5-point bull score, a career-high for Pearl Harbor, and the highest on the BFTS since Jared Allen’s Air Time matched it at 2016’s Last Cowboy Standing.
Even then, Chad Berger felt like it could have been better.
“It was too low,” Berger said. “He could have been 48 or 49. There must not be such a thing as a 50-point bull because Bruiser today and Pearl Harbor today. I don’t know how they can buck any harder. I truly think those bulls were 48-49-point bulls today.”
It was the fifth time Pearl Harbor had broken the 46-point plane.
“He felt like he slipped almost and it felt real weird,” Triplett said. “He bucked real hard. That is an awesome bull. Damn it, I am going to pick him until I ride him.
“I have a lot of work to do. I have to stay on them ones to be a World Champion.”
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