HARTFORD, Connecticut (October 8, 2011) – By the end of round two of the PBR’s Hartford Invitational, it looked like the old guard of sorts was going to rule the roost in the XL Center arena.
Unlike round one, when half the riders put up qualified scores, round two was stingier on the score board. By the end of the round, just 12 qualified rides had been made.
That didn’t mean Saturday’s round two wasn’t exciting, as it was a night of buck offs, hang ups, close calls and reviews.
But at the end of the round, the top three riders were 2009 world champion Kody Lostroh, LJ Jenkins and 2004 world champ Mike Lee.
That is, until the Saturday short go.
None of the three could make the eight second mark and that let Brazilian Fabiano Vieira slide by into first place, as the only rider to post three qualified rides.
In the short-go, Vieira did it by riding “Stinger” for 87.75 points. It wasn’t enough to win that round – in fact, of the three qualified rides in the short go, it was the lowest score – but it did make Vieira the only rider going three-for-three, heading into Sunday’s final two rounds.
Winning the short-go was Douglas Duncan, who had anything but on “Hard Times,” scoring 88 points. It gives Duncan a cumulative total of 175 points so far.
Next was birthday boy Luke Snyder, who turned 29 years old on Friday and celebrated it by winning that round. After blanking in Saturday’s round two, Snyder scored 87.5 points in the Saturday short go on “Bad Medicine.” His total heading into Sunday is 175.25 points.
While Friday started off with a scoring bonanza, Saturday’s long round didn’t put up a score until Mike Lee, the sixth rider in. Lee covered “Muddy Chicken” for 83.5 points, adding to Friday’s 85. His ride was immediately followed by Ryan McCOnnel, posting an 86-pointer on “Magic” for his first score.
Another five rider drought led to another pair of scores, with Corey Navarre putting up 83.25 points on “RMEF Elk Country” and Robson Palermo with 87.25 on “New Britain 1841,” named in honor of the nearby home of event and PBR sponsor, Stanley Tools.
In flight three, three riders put up scores, in each case their first of the weekend. Dustin Elliott opened the flight with 86.25 points on “Poster Boy,” followed by Sean Willingham with 83.75 points on “Hot Toddy.” Later in the round, rookie of the year leader Rubens Barbosa scored 85.75 points on “Cut Loose.”
Another five ride drought ended in flight four, when Kody Lostroh put up the round winner, 87.25 points on “Super Solid.” Matched with his 87 pointer from Friday, Lostroh led the way into the short-go, where his bull sent him flipping through the air and coming down hard on his head. No injury report was given and Lostroh left the arena under his own power.
Later in Flight four, Josh Faircloth secured his trip to the Saturday short-go, riding “Lunatic Fringe” for a lowly 80.5 points. The score, combined with his 83.75 points from Friday was enough to end the round in fifth.
In flight five, Australian Pete Farley scored 86 points on “Sucker Punch,” immediately after his brother Jared bucked off “Tornado Alley” in 2 seconds. Each brother now enters
Sunday with one score under his belt. Closing out the scoring in the long-go, Fabiano Vieira rode for 82.5 on “Over Achiever” and LJ Jenkins put up an 85 on “Outsider.”
While Saturday didn’t hold as many qualified rides as the night before, the excitement level in the XL Center was higher, with more bulls taking to the air and tossing riders like rag dolls. A few rides came down to the 8-second buzzer and led to reviews that, more often than not, did not go in the riders’ favor.
The Hartford Invitational – previously held at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville for the past several years but moved this year due to scheduling conflicts - concludes at 2 p.m. Sunday, with another long round and then the final championship short-go.
With only one more event, in Columbus, Ohio next weekend, between the riders and a trip to the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas, Nevada later this month, Sunday’s rides could make or break some of the riders’ dreams of making that trip. It’s do-or-die time, both for those trying to make it into the top 40 (money earned) and for the top riders hoping to have any chance to catch Silvano Alves, the number one rider.