HARTFORD, Conn. (October 9, 2011) – If a PBR bull rider wanted to well in the Hartford Invitational, he had to ride a lot of bulls.
If he wanted to win the event – the 28th of the season, and the next to last before the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas – he had to ride them all.
Only one rider managed to do that and, with the last ride of the weekend, Brazilian Fabiano Vieira locked up the win.
The ride, a 90-pointer on “Who Dat,” brought Vieira the event win and with it a payday of nearly $40,000 on the weekend. Winning the Hartford Invitational was Vieira’s second Built Ford Tough Series win of the season – the first in Oklahoma two months ago – and secured his standing of sixth in the world heading into the World Finals.
He won it without winning a single round all weekend.
Douglas Duncan, however, didn’t make it easy.
Duncan won both Saturday’s round three short-go and Sunday’s championship round. Riding right before Vieira’s last out Sunday, Duncan put up 90.75 points in his fourth ride of the weekend on “Chocolate Thunder.” That score made it do-or-die for Vieira. If he bucked off, the Hartford title would be Duncan’s.
But Vieira never faltered. The event win went to him and, in his in-arena interview (with Robson Palermo translating), Vieira gave a shout-out to Duncan’s performance that weekend. Duncan, for his efforts, earned almost $27,000 on the weekend and ended the weekend in 12th in the world title standings.
After a long-round that saw 13 qualified rides, it was a scoring drought in the championship short-go until Duncan and then Vieira breathed life back into the crowd.
But they weren’t the only ones to show solid form as the season winds down.
Kody Lostroh, 2009 World Champion who has been laid up much of the season while recovering from surgery and injury, came back to the BFTS for Hartford, and showed he was more than ready to ride with the big boys. Showing much of the form that earned his world title in 2009, Lostroh rode three of five bulls on the weekend, and finished in third place, earning a $15,000 payday helped out by his splitting the round win in round two and splitting second place in round four. In Sunday’s round four, Lostroh rode “Exotic Justin” for 87.5 points, and in the championship round bucked off “Dark Shadow” in 5.61 seconds, after which the bull ran him over a time or two heading out of the arena.
Fourth on the weekend was LJ Jenkins, who rode three of his four bulls on the weekend. In round four, he split eighth/ninth place, riding “Tornado Alley” for 85.5 points. Picking fourth in the championship round draft, Jenkins took “Trickster,” who made short work of Jenkins in 3.5 seconds. Jenkins won $8785 on the weekend, and heads to the BFTS’s last event seventh in the points standing.
Fifth was 2004 world champion Mike Lee. Lee also rode three of his five bulls, including an 83-pointer on “Stingray” in Sunday’s round four. In the short-go, “Haunted Hotel” won the battle in 4.99 seconds. Lee won $3900 on the weekend, and heads to Columbus, Ohio next weekend 17th in the season points standings.
Luke Snyder started the weekend off with a bang, winning Friday’s round one. He covered only one more bull on the weekend, in Saturday’s short-go. In the championship round, Snyder took on “Cool Spot” and made 4.5 seconds before being thrown to the dirt.
In Sunday’s long round, the win went to Sean Willingham.
Willingham scored 87.75 points on “Blonde Bomber.” It was his second score of the weekend, and was enough to get Willingham into the championship round in tenth place. The nine riders picking before him left “Stanley Fat Max” for Willingham, and he lasted 5.73 seconds before hitting the ground. The weekend, including round money, bumped Willingham up to 23rd in the money standings which determines who goes to Las Vegas for the world finals. Prior to the weekend, he was hovering above but uncomfortably near the 40th place cutoff mark.
Of the forty riders that came into Hartford for the “Hartford Invitational,” 38 made it through to compete Sunday. Although appearing on Sunday’s day sheet for round four, Pistol Robinson and Harve Stewart did not compete.
Also notable were the riders that didn’t post a single qualified ride over the three day event: Brendon Clark, Cody Nance, Aaron Roy, Dusty Ephrom, Caleb Sanderson, Pistol Robinson, Kasey Hayes, Colby Yates, Reese Cates and Tony Mendes. Many of them are fighting to make the 40-rider cutoff, which comes after the event in Columbus this next weekend, to see whether they will head to Las Vegas to compete in the PBR World Finals or go as spectators.