Matt Dunsmore falls from Crazy Legs during the 2008 PBR Rocky Mountain Bull Bash Professional Bull Riding event in Steamboat Springs. Gates for this year's Bull Bash open at 3 p.m. today at the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena.

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Matt Dunsmore falls from Crazy Legs during the 2008 PBR Rocky Mountain Bull Bash Professional Bull Riding event in Steamboat Springs. Gates for this year's Bull Bash open at 3 p.m. today at the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena.

Bull Bash comes to rodeo arena today

PBR action highlights holiday weekend

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If you go

What: The 2009 PBR Rocky Mountain Bull Bash

Where: Brent Romick Rodeo Arena, downtown Steamboat Springs

When: Gates open at 3 p.m. today, and the main event begins at 5 p.m.

Tickets: On sale at F.M. Light & Sons, the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and Murdoch's Ranch & Home Supply in Craig. General admission tickets cost $15; reserved seating costs $25; arena floor seating costs $35.

— Cowboy Mike Lee is excited about returning to Steamboat Springs to defend his title at the 2009 PBR Rocky Mountain Bull Bash today, but he knows that when you make a living riding bulls, nothing is guaranteed.

"I'm just going to try to stay on my bulls, do my job and put the rest in God's hands," Lee said by phone Friday.

The Decatur, Texas, cowboy rode to the title at the 2008 Bull Bash with an 87.5-point ride on War Dance and took home more than $6,000 in prize money.

Lee said this has been an up-and-down season. A rash of injuries forced him out of several early season events, but Lee said things have been looking up lately.

"I've placed in a couple of Challenger events and picked up a win in Lancaster (Calif.) a few weeks ago," Lee said.

Organizer Annie Mortensen said Lee and the other 39 riders at this year's Bull Bash are going to need top rides, and a little luck, to win at the event.

"I think this is one of the best fields of riders that we have ever had," Mortensen said.

Mortensen said the field is filled with top riders like Lee, Ryan Brown, Rocky McDonald and Pete Farley.

There also will be 62 high-quality bulls, to make sure the Steamboat show offers the top cowboys on the Professional Bull Riders' Challenger Tour a chance to win. The Challenger Tour is one of four PBR tours, and is just one step below the Built Ford Tough Tour that is home to many of the sport's top professional bull riders.

"All of these cowboys are gearing up to make a run at the finals in October," Mortensen said. "We get a lot of the top guys on the Built Ford Tough Tour who come here to make sure they have enough money to qualify for the finals."

She added that the winner in Steamboat could take home a $15,000 check if he has a good day. The top cowboy will earn money for winning the event and will be asked to jump on the back of Brass Knuckles, from Priest Creek Bucking Bulls, for a bonus ride.

An eight-second ride on Brass Knuckles will add another $5,000 to the winning cowboy's total.

"He's been rode one time, in something like 140 tries," former pro bull rider and Bull Bash organizer Judd Mortensen said. "They scored 92 points on him. I think a lot of cowboys are scared on him - he's a pretty rank bull."

The gates for today's Bull Bash open at 3 p.m., and the main event begins at 5 p.m. The PBR event starts with a "long go" event, when all 40 riders get a shot. The top 10 riders advance to the "short go" and a chance to win the title.

Tickets are on sale at F.M. Light & Sons, the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and Murdoch's Ranch & Home Supply in Craig. General admission tickets cost $15, reserved seating is $25, and arena floor seating is $35.

Annie Mortensen said the reserved and arena floor seating normally goes fast, but tickets should be available at the gate today.

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