BISMARCK, N.D. – No one was sure if it was a kiss of good luck or a kiss of death, but Pearl Harbor’s gesture toward J.B. Mauney in the minutes leading up to The Cooper Tires Battle in Bismarck was far from loving Friday night.
Mauney was sitting in the backpens inside the Bismarck Civic Center waiting for Pearl Harbor to be loaded into the bucking chute while Pearl Harbor snuck up behind the two-time World Champion and devilishly sniffed and kissed Mauney’s chaps.
The 30-year-old bull rider had no idea of Pearl Harbor’s devilry, and he certainly wasn’t ready for what Pearl Harbor had in store for him minutes later.
Mauney was only able to make it to 4.91 seconds against Chad Berger’s world No. 1 bull with $50,000 on the line as Pearl Harbor outmuscled Mauney before he could get to the 8-second mark and take home a massive payday.
The Mooresville, North Carolina, cowboy was understandably heated following the buckoff.
Mauney stormed out of the arena and threw his bull rope aggressively to the ground before heading outside to cool off.
10 minutes later and the anger, frustration and disappointment was still weighing on him.
Mauney had Pearl Harbor exactly where he needed to walk away with the $50,000.
“I fell off,” Mauney said after lifting his head from the palms of his hands inside the locker room. “I should have rode him all day long. I just made a mistake that cost me 50 grand.”
The No. 5 ranked bull rider in the world standings immediately knew what he did wrong.
“I whipped my free arm behind me,” Mauney said. “I was riding him all day long. I was sitting right where I needed to be. I was too excited and went to whipping my arm around, and I threw myself off.”
Pearl Harbor once again was problematic with Mauney inside the bucking chutes on Friday night.
The 6-year-old bovine athlete flipped Mauney over inside the chutes before Stormy Wing and Cooper Davis pulled him to safety.
It was eerily similar to Mauney’s failed attempt on Pearl Harbor last year in Springfield, Missouri, when Pearl Harbor slammed Mauney’s head inside the bucking chutes.
“I was revved up and he was leaning on that gate,” Mauney said. “I was trying to move him over and I probably hit him with my spur. He just bucked in there and wacked my head around a little bit. Whenever they are jumping around in there and kicking. That means their motor is running too.
“It fires me up.”
Mauney was able to get past Pearl Harbor’s initial leap out of the chute and made it past the key corner, but his aggressive free arm cost him.
“I should have rode him all day long, dead easy,” Mauney said while shaking his head.
Berger let out a big sigh of relief on the back of the bucking chutes as Mauney hustled out of the arena.
“Well, that is a lot of money,” Berger said afterward. “I will tell you what. If he would have rode him, we would have talked about it for a year and sold this place out for next year. It was a win-win for me either way.
“I am happy for Pearl Harbor, but if J.B. rode him I still would be happy.”
Pearl Harbor was marked 46 points for the out. The black bull with the white face is now 2-1 against Mauney.
“I thought he was great,” Berger said. “J.B. took him when he was leaning and it made him take a longer lunge. Boy, when he hooked up to the right, he is hard to ride for a left-handed guy. J.B. tried and kicked loose and tried everything he could. He just came up a little short.
“I want to thank him for coming. He made this all possible. We had a great crowd.”
Seeing as the matchup was not held at a Built Ford Tough Series event, Pearl Harbor’s bull score will not count toward the World Champion Bull race.
Instead, it was bragging rights for Pearl Harbor.
Berger couldn’t help but laugh when he saw the photo of Pearl Harbor and Mauney after the event.
“I think he was sniffing him out there,” Berger said.
All jokes aside, Mauney is planning on getting his revenge on Pearl Harbor sooner rather than later.
Mauney said you can count on him selecting Pearl Harbor if given the opportunity later this season when the Built Ford Tough Series resumes in August.
He also is not opposed to returning to Bismarck next year for a rematch.
“I hope (Berger) wants to try it again next year because I will be back,” Mauney said. “(The rematch) is coming. Every time I get the chance.”
Mauney will leave Bismarck at 6 a.m. Saturday and fly to Oklahoma for his $25,000 matchup against Davis at the Hometown Dodge Challenger PBR Touring Pro Division event in Vinita.
Mauney will attempt to ride Cochise, while Davis, who was bucked off by Wicked Stick in 2.95 seconds Friday night in Bismarck, will challenge Seven Dust.
“Sorry about his luck,” Mauney said about Cochise’s chances.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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