BILLINGS — Keyshawn Whitehorse made the right decision.
The 20-year-old bull rider had a qualified ride but was offered the opportunity for a reride.
He had already watched more than a third of the field get bucked off, so his original score of 78 points seemed pretty safe.
But playing it safe is not part of the bull rider mindset.
“At one moment, I was thinking, ‘Should I or should I not?’ Whitehorse said of the process. “You have to think, ‘What is the best option for me?’ It was something I felt I needed to do.”
Whitehorse returned to the chutes a little while later, taking the bull Blue Star for an 87.75-point ride to be the early leader of the first round at the Professional Bull Riders Stanley Performance In Action Invitational on Friday at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.
The top-tier PBR event, televised live each night on CBSSN, continues Saturday with a 7:45 p.m. performance.
Saturday will feature 20 riders to complete the first round followed by a 15/15 Bucking Battle that will match the top-ranked riders against the top-ranked bulls.
The top 30 scores from the first round will advance to Sunday’s second round. The championship round will follow.
Whitehorse has already clinched a return to Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark on Sunday.
“Do some fly fishing if I can,” he replied on filling his Saturday.
Whitehorse had one of six qualified rides of the 35 bull riders on Friday night. Claudio Montahna Jr. was 87 points, followed by Dakota Buttar (86), reigning world champion Jess Lockwood (85), Kaique Pacheco (84.25) and Alisson Souza (76). Souza declined his re-ride option.
Whitehorse knew a few jumps into his first bull that a second bull would be made available.
“Usually a guy in that situation realizes about halfway through if it’s going to be a reride,” he said. “You know before you get off.
“By the time they tell you you’re getting a reride and you find out the bull, it’s about 30 seconds by the time you make your decision. You know you’re going to do it. It’s a matter of getting points.”
Whitehorse, of McCracken Spring, Utah, “Not so much a town as a geographic location,” he said, came to Billings 21st in the world standings.
Sidelined with a sports hernia in 2017, “Try to do too much,” he said with a smile, Whitehorse returned to the PBR’s top level this past February at Kansas City. His best finish was a third at St. Louis and he was also seventh at North Little Rock, Arkansas, to solidify his position among the top 35 in the standings.
“My 2018 has had its highs and has had its lows,” Whitehorse said. “Which happens in this sports. I’ve had a few bad weekends, I was sitting 15th in the standings. It was nice to get one in.”
NOTES: Montahna Jr. has drawn SweetPro’s Bruiser, the 2017 PBR and PRCA bull of the year in the 15/15 Bucking Battle while Brennon Eldred gets the challenge of Pearl Harbor, the PBR’s top-ranked bull this year … Lockwood has Milky Jones, owned by former NFL player Jared Allen. Milky Jones bucked Lockwood off in 5.79 seconds in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2016 and tossed Eldred in 2.06 seconds in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, two weeks ago.