Top bulls and riders clash this weekend

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Burleson, Texas, bull rider Brian Wooley is looking to add Steamboat Springs to his list of favorite Professional Bull Riders tour stops Sunday during the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Challengers event.

His favorite stops already include Pueblo, where recently, he collected a $7,000 paycheck for first place during the Colorado State Fair, and Weatherford, Texas, where he won earlier this year.

But to make Steamboat one of his personal favorites, Wooley needs post another great score.

Promoter Brent Romick thinks the 22-year-old rider has a pretty good shot at this year's Steamboat Pro Bull Riding Classic.

Either way, Wooley's participation should help make the Steamboat event a great show.

Last Wednesday, Wooley hopped on Uncle Charlie and scored an 87.5 to advance to the finals at the PBR event at the Colorado State Fair. He then netted a 90.5 on Dippity Doo in the short go to win the event.

"He's drawn a very good bull for first round here," Romick said. "It should be one of the better matchups of the night."

Wooley will ride Witch Doctor in the first round. If he is one of the 10 riders that makes it to the short go, he will have a chance to draw one of the weekend's premier animals. The short go will include bulls such as Panda, Red Alert, Blaine, Husker Red, Ambers 'n' Ashes, White Lightning, High Five, Neon Night, Justin's Pet, Blender Head, Peacemaker and Joker.

But the animals will not be the only challenge facing Wooley in Steamboat.

He also will have to get past top riders such as Paulo Crimber of Sao Paulo, Brazil, who was second in Pueblo and the red-hot Tony Mendes of Jensen, Utah, who placed third. Romick said Steamboat is not a Built Ford Tough Cup event in the PBR's premier tour, but it has attracted many of the same cowboys that are normally featured in the PBR's larger televised series.

"We have some really great battles for this year's Pro Bull Riding Classic," Romick said. "It should be another great show."

Other top names will include Adriano Moraes, who will climb aboard High Plains Drifter in the qualifying round, Jaron Nunnemaker on Oz and Beau Lindley on Hard Copy.

"You would normally see a bull like Hard Copy in the short go, but we just have so many great bulls this year that he ended up in the first round," Romick said.

Riders will have one shot in the qualifying round at this Sunday's Pro Bull Riding Classic. The riders earning the top 10 scores from the first round will advance to the short go where they will get one more ride for the money. The riders' scores from both rounds will be combined, and the rider with the highest score after both rides will win the top prize.

Romick said he will keep his eye on Mendes, who will ride Hal Burns' T Rex in the qualifying round.

"I really like Tony," Romick said. "He's been hot lately and it wouldn't surprise me if he wins the whole thing."

The gates will open for the Steamboat Springs Pro Bull Riding Classic at 6 p.m. (reserved ticket holders will be allowed in beginning at 5:30 p.m.) Sunday. The first bull is slated to come out of the chute at 7:30 p.m.

Romick is encouraging rodeo fans to show up early to get a good seat.

A ticket for reserved seating will allow the holder to pick a place in the steel grandstands or the covered seating on either side of the chutes.

There also will be a special in-arena seating area on the east side of the arena and general admission in the concrete grandstands on the south side of the arena.

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