LEXINGTON, Ky. Since its inception, the Dodge Xtreme Bulls Ride Hard Tour presented by B&W Trailer Hitches has had the ability to make a cowboy's season.
JayC Bean watched cowboys like Mike Moore, B.J. Schumacher and Matt Austin alter the course of their seasons completely by doing well at the events. He knew the value of Xtreme Bulls, but only secondhand. Now, he knows firsthand.
Bean, the only rider to cover three at the Lexington, Ky., edition of the Ride Hard Tour, scored 258.5 and won $12,859.
"I've been entering these Xtreme Bulls, but haven't got in any, except as the seventh alternate to get into the second San Antonio one," the Goldendale, Wash., cowboy said. "I rode my bull, but I didn't make the short round or win any money (he scored 77 points on Dixieland) so it didn't help me out in the standings. I placed second in two Xtremes before, Houston and Ellensburg in 2004, and won a good chunk of change out of those."
Cowboys are eligible to enter Xtreme Bulls based on either their previous or current season's earnings. Unfortunately for Bean (whose writes his name as J.C. rather than the correct spelling of JayC so people won't call him 'Jay') 2005 was the worst year of his career and in 2006 prior to this win he was ranked 36th in the PRCA world standings. So he wasn't on the priority list to enter the Xtreme Bulls.
On the Fourth of July weekend, however, PRCA cowboys were spread thin, and some didn't enter this event due to conflicts with other rodeos, so Bean had his chance and he wasn't going to let it slip through his fingers.
In the first round on Friday night, he rode a Silverado Rodeo Company bull name Tootie Fruity for 82.5 points.
"I didn't know anything about my first bull," he said. "He wasn't very smooth, it felt like, but I made the whistle on him. I was 82.5, so that was just where I wanted to be to ride another one."
For the second round match up, he drew a bull named Nasty from the Classic string.
"Thomas Bert had him yesterday and he just looked pretty good," he said. "Thomas was 85 on him. Something must have made him look easy because he felt a little tougher to ride that what Thomas made it look like."
Despite two solid rides and 168 points, he was flying beneath the radar.
Jarrod Ford, the first round leader, topped his second bull for 87.5 points in the second round while Cooper Kanngiesser rode his for 86.5 putting them at 178 and 175.5 on two, respectively. Six other bull riders covered two heading into the short round.
Bryan Richardson rode Frontier's Stretch for 89.5 points to lead all cowboys in the second round, followed by an 88.5 mark from Moore and an 88 from Chad Besplug.
Clearly, though, Ford and Kanngiesser were the favorites. Ford had drawn Frontier's Hummer, a bull he bucked off of earlier in the year, and Kanngiesser drew Biloxi Blues from the Roberston, Wilson and Southwick string who he had also bucked off of earlier in the year.
Bean, meanwhile, drew the fourth-ranked bull on www.probullstats.com, Harlan Robertson's Texas. He was previously unridden. It was easy to write Bean off.
"I didn't know him or hadn't seen him," Bean said. "But I asked Kyle Joslin about him and he told me how he's been getting everybody. Right when I nodded and they opened that gate, he bucked in the chute and then shot down the chute instead of going out and starting his normal trip."
Maybe the fact that he didn't take his normal trip was a case of getting lucky in Kentucky. Regardless, the judges were impressed and marked the ride a crowd-pleasing 90.5.
"I'm not taking anything away from the bull, he felt like he was bucking hard the whole time," he said. "It was everything I could do to ride him. It feels good to be 90.5 points because I haven't been 90 in a long time. As long as I know I can do it again."
As it turned out, only one other bull rider, Besplug, rode his short-round bull. The young Canadian rode Southwick, Roberston and Wilson's Show Off for 88. Kanngiesser appeared to have Biloxi Blues ridden, but almost inexplicably blew off. Back behind the chutes, it became apparent why; his spur strap broke and took away any grip with his right foot he had.
The night was destined for Bean.
"This is my biggest win for sure," he said through a grin that might just last him through the Fourth of July.
Bob Welch has covered rodeo for six years and in addition to writing for ESPN.com ProRodeo, is the managing editor of Spin to Win magazine and serves as an associate producer onsite for the Xtreme Bulls and Wrangler ProRodeo Tour telecasts. Welch lives with his wife, Kristen, and 2-year-old son, Tate, in Black Forest, Colo.