The 2013 Built Ford Tough Championship Series is underway on the Professional Bull Riders circuit, and this week, the action hits Chicago for the second event in a two-week span.
After Robson Palermo took home the trophy at the opening event—the Monster Energy Invitational—the rest of the field will try to regroup and attack the top of the leaderboard, which features Silvano Alves, Palermo, J.B. Mauney and Aaron Roy.
At the 2013 Chicago Invitational, look for some of the other riders to have good runs and for the cream of the crop to continue to ride ahead of the field.
If you're a big fan of the sport, you won't want to miss this one, and you won't want to miss PBR's fantasy event for competing riders. Just like fantasy football, you can set your lineup each week and see how your team stacks up against the rest of the field—a novel idea to get fans engaged and excited about a growing sport.
Here's a complete look at everything you need to know about this weekend's event, including event times, location and a preview for riders and bulls you should pay attention to.
When: Jan. 12-13, 2013
Where: AllState Arena; Chicago, Ill.
Jan. 12 — PurePBR and CBS Sports Network at 10:00 p.m. ET
Jan. 13 — CBS Sports Network at 8:00 p.m. ET (Note: Event starts at 2:00 p.m. ET but won't be broadcast until later Saturday night.)
Live Stream: PBR Live Stream
Predictions/Riders to Watch
In the spirit of staying hot, Palermo won the final event of the 2012 season, the first event of the 2013 season and now has a chance to repeat in the place he is still the current champion—Chicago.
Riding three of four bulls last weekend at the Monster Invitational, Palermo picked up 816.50 points en route to his first win of the 2013 stretch. Right behind him were Mauney and Roy, who both tied for second, while Alves finished fourth.
All eyes will be on Palermo, as he looks to really put the pressure on defending Series champion Alves. It's been nearly two years since that win, but he hasn't shown any signs of slowing down yet in his past two events.
Likely missing from this week's event will be L.J. Jenkins, who sustained a right shoulder injury in New York last weekend. He is doubtful to participate, per PBR's official site. He was the second-place finisher at this event in 2011.
There are a slew of other good riders to check out on Saturday and Sunday, so make sure to tune in and either find a new favorite or check up on an old rider you've come to admire.
Bulls to Watch
Just like in New York City, the bulls for this week's competition will be raring and ready to go.
If you watched the Monster Energy Invitational, you know Mauney had a chance to win with a successful ride on Rock & Roll in the championship round. You also know that Mauney rode this bull by choice and became the 30th straight man to not finish an eight-second ride.
Rock & Roll is back in Chicago this weekend with his un-ridden streak alive and well, as is Smackdown, a bull that has a chance to make history in the very near future, according to this PBR tweet:
Smackdown will reach 75 career outs this season, something fewer than 1% of bulls ever achieve. Go IN THE BULL PEN: bit.ly/UD9NqT.— PBR (@PBR) January 10, 2013
As Slade Long of PBR.com points out through PBR bull coordinator Cody Lambert, these two aren't the only bulls that will factor into Saturday and Sunday's meet. New Frontier Rodeo Company is bringing a caravan of new bulls for these riders, and one is the son of an old friend:
A bull that has been notoriously bad in the chute, C'N Stars Bull Company's Buck Wild now wears a halter as a means of keeping him calm in the chute. Buck Wild is a son of Black Pearl, who was also known for being a little touchy in the chute. Lambert called Buck Wild "the most spectacular bull there is - if he can get out of the chute clean."
Palermo will get the chance for a special ride on Saturday in a "bonus bull" category that could net him an extra $3,000 if he stays on for the duration of the ride. Mississippi Hippy is the bull, and that will be a special treat for fans in Chicago.
The combination of bulls and riders looks poised to produce another quality showing in Chicago this weekend.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team. Check him out on Twitter.