McClain tames Hot Damn after lucky break


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TULSA, Okla. — If you're a bull rider, doses of good luck are few and far between. But Jason McClain's traveling partner to the Tulsa edition of the Dodge Xtreme Bulls Ride Hard Tour stop must have been Lady Luck.

He rode two bulls for a whopping 179 points and won $17,258 for his second Xtreme Bulls win — he won the 2003 Reno stop.

The luck didn't come in the arena — that was pure bull riding talent from a six-time Wrangler NFR qualifier. The luck came in the only category a bull rider has no control over: the draw.

In the semifinal round McClain drew Culpepper, a bull from Andrews' Rodeo Company. Why's that lucky? He rode that very same bull last July for 89 points and a win in Deadwood, S.D.

"He's just good," McClain said. "He comes out there to the left and feels awesome. He's just up and down and then around to the left. He's the kind of bull that feels good to ride."

The judges thought it looked good and awarded him 85 points. Followed by a pair of 84s from Cory Melton and Sonny Murphy and five 83s, it turned out to be tops in the round.

As the draw was announced for the final round, McClain already he knew he'd be matched up with Cervi & Guidry Rodeo's Hot Damn — a bull he'd ridden twice, once in San Antonio this year and once in Houston in 2005. If that's not lucky, nothing is.

Others in the final round included Travis Sellers, who rode Silverado's Mirage for 79 points in the semifinal round and in the process broke his wrist and pulled all kinds of ligaments in his riding hand. The Justin Sportsmedicine Team told him not to ride, but he knew you can't get paid if you don't play, so he nodded his head on Mean Machine in the final round. The gamble paid off and he scored 91 points, injury and all.

Bobby Welsh, one of the five 83s, drew David Bailey's Smokin Gun, the bull Matt Austin won the second San Antonio Xtreme Bulls event on. The bull stumbled on his front feet and jerked Welsh's hand out of the bull rope, pulling his shoulder out of its socket in the process. He was awarded a re-ride, but due to the injury, was unable to take it.

The other re-ride awarded in the final round was to reigning World Champion Austin. Austin drew the fifth-rankest bull in the world according to probullstats.com: David Bailey's Super Cool. The bull exploded out of the chutes when the gates cracked and scraped Austin along the side of the gate. The re-ride he was given, was Cervi and Guidry's XS Energy was the bull. He spurred the bull for 91 points, bringing his total to 174 points, a second-place finish and a lead in the overall Xtreme Bulls Ride Hard Tour standings with $34,739.

But once Lady Luck laid the win on a silver platter for McClain, there was no way he was going to pass it up.

"He went to the left both times I had him before," McClain said of Hot Damn. "This time he changed it up and went to the right and kind of lifted me up and got me back on my rope. I didn't want to be that far back, but it worked it out."

While Hot Damn might have lifted him up off his rope, he lifted to much more: A 94 point ride, an Xtreme Bulls Ride Hard Tour win and a catapult into ProRodeo's swinging summer season.

"You can't really go wrong on him," McClain said of Hot Damn. "Well, you can, he's not easy, but he's as good as they come in the short round."

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.