Riding the bubble

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (Oct. 14, 2009) — While three men battle for a World Championship and dozens more have the World Finals event title in their sights, a few riders simply hope to be in Las Vegas.

With only one Built Ford Tough Series event remaining, the majority of the field of 40 riders has been set.

Although points determine the World Champion, it's the Top 40 moneymakers from the qualifier standings who get in the door at the Finals.

As it stands right now, two riders — Edvaldo Ferreira, number 42, and Reese Cates, number 43 — had been holding onto the final spots, but in recent weeks they've dropped in the standings. Unless they fare better this weekend at the Mohegan Sun Invitational than they have at any other event in 2009, their seasons will come to an unceremonious close in Connecticut.

Ferreira, the latest Brazilian to qualify for the BFTS, has ridden in seven events since coming to the United States. However, he's covered just four of his 17 bulls with his best finish coming in Nashville, where he finished 10th.

He won $2,600 in Nashville, and he'll need just that to slide by Billy Robinson in the 40th spot by a mere $300.

It is equally daunting for Cates, last year's Daisy Rookie of the Year. He needs slightly more than $2,600 just to equal Robinson.

Three-quarters of Ferriera's money was won at international events, and three-quarters of Cates' money was earned at Challenger events.

Cates won $2,000 in New York City and another $1,000 in both Sacramento and Fresno, with his only other BFTS prize money coming in Pueblo, when he won $2,545. Since then he's only managed to earn $156 for a 16th place finish in Portland.

With tens of thousands of dollars available, Cates will need to have his best weekend of 2009 if he stands any chance of getting to the Finals.

Injuries have set back Mike White, Brendon Clark and Matt Bohon.

Bohon, who is 58th in the standings, will have to more than double his earnings of $24,462.79, while Clark is roughly $11,500 behind Robinson.

However, since returning from shoulder surgery, White made up substantial ground last week in Columbus, Ohio, when he took home $9,950.40.

The 33-year-old veteran from De Kalb, Texas, is $6,264.83 behind Robinson. In his first two events back — after missing 12 — he wore a helmet, rode one bull, and didn't win any money. It wasn't until forgoing the protective headgear that he won two of three rounds in Columbus.

He'll need to replicate his success from a week ago in order to beat out Robinson or one of the other lower-ranked qualifiers.

The two lower-ranked qualifiers — Robinson, number 40, and Elliott Jacoby, number 39 — are $354.63 apart from one another.

Jacoby slid up the standings by winning $9,330 in Ontario, Calif., and then another $3,342 last weekend.

The newcomer from Fredericksburg, Texas, had a rough go of things when he first debuted on the BFTS in Worcester, Mass., going 0-for-his-first-six events before riding in Reno, Nev.

The Mohegan Sun Invitational present by Cooper Tires takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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