SAN ANTONIO — For Jarrod Ford, the kickoff of the 2006 Xtreme Bulls Ride Hard Tour was a series of rematches and, ultimately, vindication.
The AT&T Center in San Antonio on Friday night was at capacity when the first bull bucked and when the dust settled the crowd stood to congratulate Ford's 177 points on two rides.
In the first round, Ford (Greeley, Colo.) drew Final Dose from the Cervi and Guidry Rodeo Company. He had drawn that bull a year-and-a-half ago at the Heart of Texas Fair and Rodeo in Waco, Texas. He didn't make the final whistle then. But since, the little black and white spinner had been ridden for as much as 86 points, and according to ProBullStats.com, bucked off 56 percent of his riders. Interestingly, Ford's riding percentage is 45 percent.
"Final Dose is a bull I got on two years ago at Waco and he doesn't weigh a whole lot. You'd think he was two years old, but he's been around a little bit," Ford said. "They said he really bucked. When I was on him last time, he was a right-hand delivery and he clicked my heels and hung me up and stomped all over me. This time he just worked me all over. Because he's real small, I just kept trying."
The result was an 84-point mark. Cooper Kangeisser and Kanin Asay, who each scored 89 points on Crimson Tide of the Southwick, Robertson and Wilson Company and Andrews Rodeo's Casper, respectively, won the semifinal round.
Ford entered the final round in seventh place, and not among the favorites.
Myron Duarte drew Hot Damn of the Cervi and Guidry string — the bull Dustin Elliott won this same event on a year ago.
However, Ford drew Sammy Andrews' Fender Bender, a bull he had been on only a couple of weeks ago at the Bullnanza event in Guthrie, Okla.
"I was on him in Guthrie and seen him a couple times at the Finals," Ford said. "Dustin had been on him once before and he didn't like him, but everybody else I talked to liked him. He really works you a lot — his shoulders are rolling. You have to keep getting over there, but don't get too wild or he'll buck you off. I stuck with him 6.5 seconds in Guthrie and my inside foot kind of popped out of him and he launched me in the air. Here, I just told myself to keep trying the whole time and not get myself in trouble and I'd be all right. So that's just what I was doing. If he'd rock me out there I'd just get back and finally the whistle blew."
After it did blow, the judges gave Ford 93 points — the highest marked ride of the event. Duarte needed a 90 to tie and 91 to win. He fell just short with an 89, but still finished in second place.
All told, Ford took home $12,944.
"I just want to have a good start because you don't have the pressure all through the year," Ford said.
When asked if this fast start could make up for his shaky 2005 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo performance, he simply replied, "I'd love for them to give me the shot to be shaky at the Finals again."
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.