LAS VEGAS – Dener Barbosa cracked a quick, confident smile inside the Cowtown Coliseum last weekend as the names of bulls he has conquered this season were rattled off.
Smooth Operator, I’m Legit Too, Lil 2 Train, Talking Smack, Wild Onion.
“Red Clark,” Barbosa chimed in. His 91.25-point ride on the No. 2 bull in the YETI World Champion Bull standings in Omaha, Nebraska, was the first time any rider had successfully ridden Red Clark, who was 14-0 on the premier series and 16-0 overall.
The ride is also one of Barbosa’s four 90-point rides in 2021. The No. 5-ranked bull rider in the world has never posted more than one 90-point ride in a single season until this year, and there are still five months until the 2021 PBR World Finals gets underway in Las Vegas.
“To be in the Top 5, you have to ride rank bulls like that,” Barbosa said during the Stockyards Showcase in Fort Worth, Texas, last weekend with the help of Paulo Crimber translating. “I am just trying to make the best of all my bulls and, when I have the chance, to pick those 90-plus point bulls in the draft and go at them.”
Barbosa heads into this weekend’s PBR Las Vegas Invitational at the MGM Grand Garden Arena 408.7 points behind world leader Kaique Pacheco.
The four-time PBR World Finals qualifier is 22-for-47 (46.81%) on the Unleash The Beast, and Barbosa knows if he could have cashed in with an event win, he would be that much closer in the world title race. Barbosa has finished in third place at three different events (Omaha; Nampa, Idaho; Sioux Falls, South Dakota).
“(The second half) is going to be really important because I haven’t won first place yet this year,” Barbosa said. “I keep getting third, third, third. I just need to continue to ride like I did at those and try to get closer to that No. 1 position and win an event.”
Barbosa has drawn Smoke Show (9-5, premier series) for Round 1 on Friday night (10 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network / RidePass). He is 9-for-18 on the premier series at four events in Las Vegas.
The 27-year-old is arriving in Las Vegas fresh off a fifth-place finish at the Stockyards Showcase (1-for-2), which was his second non-UTB event of the season. Barbosa will not be taking the next month off before the second half resumes and returning home to Brazil. Instead, he plans to enter some events in June, including the Dakota Community Bank & Trust PBR Bull Riding Challenge in Bismarck, North Dakota, on June 18-19.
Barbosa knows every point matters, and he is looking to close the gap between himself and Pacheco while also attempting to surpass another trio of extremely talented bull riders in 2020 World Champion Jose Vitor Leme, 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis and perennial world title contender Joao Ricardo Vieira.
Barbosa and Vieira are the only two riders among the Top 5 who have yet to experience the elation of winning a PBR gold buckle. Still, Barbosa believes the fire for Pacheco, Leme and Davis to get a second is just as strong as their desire to win their first.
“I think all of them are fighting for the same reason,” Barbosa said. “We are all fighting to win. It is about winning and doing the job good. I think they are just as hungry as me.”
Article Courtesy of PBR
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media