First Round of the UBBI National Finals Is In the Books

Cody Huitt winning the 1st Go-Round buckle presented by 8 time World Champion Bull Rider, Don Gay. Photo by Brewer

The United Bucking Bulls Inc. and the Don Gay Bull Riding Tour Finals exploded onto the arena dirt on Thursday in the first round of a three-night competition. The event, held at the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kansas, pits the rankest bulls against the bravest cowboys in a match of strength and skill. The action-packed evening saw the top-50 bull riders of the Don Gay Bull Riding Tour, founded by legendary Eight-Time World Champion Bull Rider, Don Gay, attempt an eight-second ride on 50 of the top UBBI Derby bulls (3 year olds).

With a total of 48 riders unsuccessful in making the whistle to eight seconds, it might be safe to say that tonight in Kansas, the bulls won, but there are two riders who might object.  The 17-year-old Texas sensation, Brody Yeary from Brock, Texas, who leads the current DGBRT Standings, posted an 85-point ride on Bean Counter Bucking Bulls,’ “The Goat” to finish second in the round with a qualified ride score.

“I’d been on the bull twice [at other events], and he bucked me off both times.  It felt really good to get him rode, “ Yeary said.

Yeary’s success came as the fourth rider out in the first section of the five-section performance, and it held strong as the only successful ride of the night until the third section when Cody Huitt from Porter, Oklahoma, rode “Fozzy”, a bull owned by BP Cattle, for an 85.5 score. For Huitt, who entered the finals ranked no. 19, the win resulted from keeping a clear mind and going back to the basics, he explained.   “It felt great. I don’t really know [the bull]. They told me he was a great bull, and it really worked out,” Huitt said of his ride.

Cody Huitt from Oklahoma winning the round with a qualified ride on Fozzy from BP Cattle. Photo by Gautreau

The riders competed for Round 1 total prize money of  $10,000 dollars. With Huitt taking home the highest amount at $1,800 and Yeary pocketing $1,200 in Qualified-Ride money. The remainder of the purse went to the Rank-Rider Pay-Off, an innovative system designed to reward cowboys monetarily for rides on the rankest bulls, regardless of an eight-second ride.

“Going out to announce, it always pained me to say ‘gosh he made such a great effort to ride that bull, and he rode him six or seven seconds, and he’s going to go home with no money.’ Well, I don’t want them to go home,” said Don Gay of the scoring system unique to the DGBRT.

Coincidentally, it was in fact Yeary’s eight-second ride on the bull “The Goat” that took the #1 spot as highest Rank-Rider score, adding an additional $1,400 to Yeary’s wins. His $2,600 total for the night further solidifies his place at the #1 spot in the DGBRT standings. The remainder of the purse, totaling $7,000 was awarded to 10 other riders who didn’t make eight second rides. This includes Ryan Reynal, Ft. Worth, Texas, and Ronny Kitchens, Mansfield, Texas, who also chase Yeary in the standings as the #2 and #3 riders respectively.

Dane Doggett of Fort Worth, Texas on Hard Time owned by the Moss Brothers. Photo by Gautreau

While the riders are competing for the championship, a total of $40,000 and a new truck from Mel Hambleton Ford of Wichita, the bulls are competing just as hard, for prize money totaling over $250,000. The winnings are awarded to the Top-25 of the 150 bulls performing during the entire finals competition.

The highest bull score tonight in the Derby competition came from Moss Brothers’ bull, “Hard Time” a champion who wowed the crowd at last year’s finals and emerged as a Futurity winner in the 2-year-old rider-less- bucking competition. Hard Time is back to win a new title this year as a Derby champion bull and came into the finals ranked second in the Derby Standings. “It was one of the best trips he’s had. He was right in the gate like he should be, like he usually is, and he had what it took tonight,” explained owner, Gideon Moss.

The bull scored a total of 88.5 points tonight, but he must perform well again when he comes back as a top-25 bull to compete in Saturday night’s final performance.

Friday night, the action continues with the same top-50 riders meeting the top-50 Classic bulls (4 year olds). After Round 1, for cowboys and bulls alike, the battle is truly, just beginning.

View UBBI Derby Results

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