Lab Rat and Peep Show will be at Carver Arena on Saturday when the Professional Bull Riders Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour bucks into town.
They are some of the best athletes on the tour. They have world rankings. And they have four legs.
"I'll bring 15-20 bulls to the Peoria event," said Justin Cornwell, 44, who manages his bovines on a ranch in Lima, Ohio. "Two of them have appeared in the world championships, the finals."
That would be the aforementioned Lab Rat and Peep Show. These guys are big. Powerful. And big business.
The two-legged athletes know this well.
"The toughest I've ever ridden? It was a bull named Mick E. Mouse," said Bryan Titman, an East Bernard, Texas, native who is ranked No. 7 on the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour and will be in the lineup Saturday at the Peoria Classic. "He passed away a couple years ago now. But he was elite. They are all taken care of, they are treated just like we are. These bulls are athletes, and you have to respect them.
"I'm a smaller guy, and the bulls have muscle packed up front and they pull on you. That's a challenge for me. But the speed can give the bigger guys trouble, the centrifugal force.
"You get to know these bulls very well."
Titman has completed 13 of 29 rides in 17 events so far in 2019. His competition this weekend was waiting in a field in Ohio a few days ago.
"These bulls are bred to buck," Cornwell said. "You don't just go out and buy a bull from a farm somewhere. There are records kept on lineage, the history of each bull, and there are specific genes we're screening for in them, too.
"The training is really just getting them used to being handled, and traveling. There is so much genetic predisposition involved, it's kind of like a bird dog — you don't teach those dogs to freeze and point, they either know to do it or they don't — and it's the same way with these bulls. They know what to do."
But not all bulls are created equally.
"They have very distinct personalities," Cornwell said. "I have one who I have to feed alone, because he'll eat all of his food and then eat all the other bulls' food, too. I have another one who will come in from the pasture and walk up to me and stare at me and won't leave — until I scratch his head and back. And there's a couple out there that, well, you definitely want to keep about five feet between you and them at all times."
Cornwell rode bulls and now is in his 14th year as a stock contractor providing bulls to rodeo events. A bull can cost $1,200 to acquire as a calf, and those with superstar lineage can go for beyond $100,000. It costs $300 per month, per bull, to give them specialized feed. They are exercised — literally going for runs in the field.
They have names like Sugar Boom Boom, Mud Dog and Copperhead Road. All carry a special meaning to whoever issued the name.
"Peep Show was in the PBR World Finals last year, he's a 5-year-old," said Cornwell, who noted his bulls typically start competing at age 4. "He was the son of a bull named Night Show. So his name is a play on that."
Lab Rat is 8. He was in the PBR World Finals in 2016. Peoria will be one of the final stops of his career. He is retiring at the end of this season and will move on as a breeder.
The average PBR bull weighs 1600-1700 pounds, and some push beyond a ton. The average bull on the circuit is worth $10,000, and some are valued at up to $500,000.
The riders, of course, are scored on each of their performances and can earn up to 100 points if they stay aboard the bull for a full 8 seconds.
But the bulls receive a score from judges, too. And those scores are used to compile rankings for the bulls and increase the monetary value of the bull. The highest-ranked bull in the PBR YETI World Champion Bull competition earns a $100,000 bonus. And the highest-rated stock contractor can win up to $25,000.
So it's big business as these bulls work their way up through the system.
It's big business for the two-legged athletes as well. Titman is ranked No. 7 on the PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour, which is a minor-league level within the PBR world. His overall world ranking is No. 57. Peep Show, by the way, is ranked No. 158 in the world.
Maybe they'll meet at Carver Arena.
"My dad and my grandfather both did this," Titman said. "It's all I've ever wanted to do. I go to rodeos and see older guys there who've competed, and it's great to talk to them, and great to be able to talk to kids, too."
Dave Eminian covers the Rivermen and Chiefs for the Journal Star, and writes the Cleve in the Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.