(Editor's note: PBR release)
LAS VEGAS – As action for the 2021 PBR (Professional Bull Riders) World Finals: Unleash The Beast got underway in front of a vocal Las Vegas crowd Wednesday night, the world’s top three bull riders each registered rides to set the tone for the historic final title race inside T-Mobile Arena.
While world No. 1 Jose Vitor Leme (Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil) made the 8 in his return to competition after being sidelined for five events to remain atop the standings, No. 2 Kaique Pacheco (Itatiba, Brazil) and No. 3 Cooper Davis (Jasper, Texas) both registered monstrous 90-point scores to gain ground on the reigning PBR World Champion.
As the first of the trio to erupt from the chutes in Sin City, Davis prepared to go head-to-head against the No. 1 bovine athlete in the race for the ABBI (American Bucking Bull Inc.) Classic World Championship – Juju (Tommy Julian/D&H Cattle).
Undaunted by the bull’s resume, Davis stayed on board the wildly bucking Juju jump-for-jump en route to a 90.75-point score, the second-best of Round 1.
Davis’s 10th 90-point ride of the season earned him 49 world points and $20,000. Remaining No. 3 in the world, the Texan climbed within 732 points of the No. 1 position.
In Round 2, Davis has drawn Moonlight Party (Jane Clark/Gene Owen).
As the next rider to leave the chutes, 2018 PBR World Champion Pacheco covered Karate All Night (Platinum Bull Co.) for 79.75 points and was awarded a re-ride.
Knowing he needed a high score for a chance to win the world title, Pacheco declined the score, knowing that Dirty Sancho (Blake Sharp/Koe Wetzel/High Voltage Cattle), a familiar foe, awaited him in the re-ride pen. Pacheco had covered Dirty Sancho for 87.75 points this May in Jacksonville, Florida, before winning Round 1 aboard the bovine athlete in October in Manchester, New Hampshire, courtesy of a 91-point effort.
Pacheco remained perfect against Dirty Sancho as the duo danced on the glittering dirt. Making the requisite 8, Pacheco was marked 90.5 points to finish third in the opening round, earning a critical 45 world points and a $15,000 payday.
The “Ice Man” maintained his No. 2 world rank but shrunk No. 1 Leme’s lead to 577 points.
Pacheco will look to gain further ground on his countryman in Round 2 when he faces off against War Dress (Jane Clark/Gene Owen).
Returning to competition for the first time since sustaining a groin injury in mid-September in Newark, New Jersey, Leme’s championship-contending form was on full display.
Leme rode Little Voodoo Jacket (6M Ranch/Riley Samford) for 86.75 points, finishing sixth in Round 1.
The former semi-professional soccer player left T-Mobile Arena with 32 world points. He will face Montana Moon (Wentz Bucking Bulls/Aces Wild Pro Rodeo) when action for the 2021 PBR World Finals: Unleash The Beast continues with Round 2 on Nov. 4.
Should Leme, Pacheco or Davis be crowned the 2021 PBR World Champion, they would become just the seventh multi-time PBR World Champion in league history.
Chasing further records, should Leme repeat as the World Champion, he would become just the second rider to win the coveted gold buckle in back-to-back seasons, joining three-time PBR World Champion Silvano Alves (Pilar do Sul, Brazil), who won his first two tiles in 2011 and 2012.
In his PBR World Finals debut, Eli Vastbinder (Statesville, North Carolina) led the 40-rider field in Round 1.
Delivering the first 90-point ride of his career on the elite Unleash The Beast, Vastbinder outmatched Manaba (Joe & Nina Webb/Julian/D&H Cattle Co.) for 91 points.
Vastbinder collected $35,000 for the 8 seconds of work and earned 89 world points.
The new father surged six spots in the world standings from No. 19 to No. 13.
Vastbinder also gained ground in the race for the 2021 PBR Rookie of the Year honor. After beginning the event ranked No. 5 in the race amongst first-year riders on the elite tour, he is now No. 3, within 108.5 points of top-ranked rookie and world No. 9 Junior Patrik Souza (Sonora, Brazil).
“Every bull here is one you can win on if you do your part,” Vastbinder said. “You can’t look too far ahead at World Finals. You just show up, try your heart out, and do your best to stay on.”
Souza was also successful in Round 1, finishing ninth after covering That Look (Hawkins Bucking Bulls) for 84.75 points. He earned 20 world points for the score.
Vastbinder will look to continue his climb up the standings in Round 2 when he matches up with Secret Weapon (444 Bucking Bulls/Stockyards/Winston/Durham/Davis/Melton).
Epitomizing what it means to be cowboy tough, Mason Taylor (Maypearl, Texas) was fourth in Round 1 as he began his tenure at the 2021 PBR World Finals with his jaw wired shut. Taylor broke his mandible and fractured his ear canal in late October while competing at the final regular-season event of the year in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Taylor earned his qualified ride atop Body Count (Bob & Jeri Adams/BS Cattle Co.), marked 89.5 points, to collect 40 world points and $10,000.
The 22-year-old gained two positions in the world standings, rising from No. 31 to No. 29. His quest for the 2021 PBR World Finals event win will continue in Round 2 when he attempts Bubba G (Dakota Rodeo/Brian & Ashley Pintar/Clay Struve/Chad Berger).
Rounding out the Top 5 in fifth was Chase Dougherty (Decatur, Texas), earning 36 world points.
Dougherty covered Cuttin Torch (D&H Cattle/Flinn) for 88 points. He climbed from No. 12 to No. 11 in the world standings.
One of 13 contenders for the Rookie of the Year honor, Dougherty remained No. 2 in the standings but closed within 55.5 points of standings leader Souza.
The 2020 PBR World Finals: Unleash The Beast continues with Round 2 on Thursday, Nov. 4 at 6:40 p.m. PDT.
PBR RidePass on PlutoTV will offer re-airs and on-demand replays of every PBR Unleash The Beast event. PBR RidePass is available on desktops, laptops and mobile devices via www.pluto.tv [pluto.tv]. Tune to channel 720 for the latest programming schedule, and click here [pluto.tv] for on-demand PBR programming.
PBR Unleash The BeastPBR World Finals: Unleash The BeastT-Mobile Arena – Las Vegas, NevadaEvent Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Round 3-Round 4-Round 5-Round 6-Event Aggregate-Event Points)
1. Eli Vastbinder, 91-0-0-0-0-0-91.00-89 Points.
2. Cooper Davis, 90.75-0-0-0-0-0-90.75-49 Points.
3. Kaique Pacheco, 90.5-0-0-0-0-0-90.50-45 Points.
4. Mason Taylor, 89.5-0-0-0-0-0-89.50-40 Points.
5. Chase Dougherty, 88-0-0-0-0-0-88.00-36 Points.
6. Jose Vitor Leme, 86.75-0-0-0-0-0-86.75-32 Points.
7. Claudio Montanha Jr., 86.5-0-0-0-0-0-86.50-28 Points.
8. Cody Teel, 85.5-0-0-0-0-0-85.50-24 Points.
9. Junior Patrik Souza, 84.75-0-0-0-0-0-84.75-20 Points.
10. Manoelito de Souza Junior, 82-0-0-0-0-0-82.00-16 Points.
11. Boudreaux Campbell, 78.75-0-0-0-0-0-78.75-5 Points.
João Ricardo Vieira, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Dener Barbosa, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Mauricio Gulla Moreira, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Derek Kolbaba, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Dalton Kasel, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Keyshawn Whitehorse, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Jesse Petri, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Silvano Alves, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Marco Eguchi, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Rafael Henrique dos Santos, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
João Henrique Lucas, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Marcelo Procopio Pereira, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Paulo Ferreira Lima, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Cody Jesus, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Daylon Swearingen, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Eduardo Aparecido, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Andrew Alvidrez, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Ezekiel Mitchell, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Austin Richardson, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Cole Melancon, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Adriano Salgado, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Conner Halverson, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Cody Nance, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Thiago Salgado, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Lane Nobles, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Grayson Cole, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Alvaro Aguilar Alvarez, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Leonardo Lima, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00
Dalton Rudman, 0-0-0-0-0-0-0.00