Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Ty Murray: Whitehorse rocks; PBR, UNM agree for four more years

Keyshawn Whitehorse rides previously unridden Redwood Original during the Ty Murray Invitational at the Pit on Saturday night. (Mike Sandoval/For the Journal)

Keyshawn Whitehorse (left) is congratulated by bull fighter Cody Webster for his successful ride Saturday night at the Pit. (Mike Sandoval/For the Journal)

Adrian Salgado rides American Gangster to victory in Saturday night’s round two of the PBR’s Ty Murray Invitational at the Pit. (Courtesy of PBR)

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The sold-out Pit came alive when Keyshawn Whitehorse completed his ride on the bull Redwood Original during the second round of the Ty Murray Invitational on Saturday night.

The decibels in the arena increased for Whitehorse as he shot up the standings with a sensational ride on Redwood Original, the bull who gave him his first PBR ride.

Whitehorse, 24, earned a 86.75 score, the second-best of the night, and finished Saturday as the leader after two rounds with 171.25 points.

Whitehorse, a Native American rider of the Navajo Nation, appreciated the love from the crowd.

“It’s a great feeling of support; there’s nothing like it,” said Whitehorse, who is ranked No. 43 in the world and is from McCracken Spring, Utah. “It’s really energizing. It’s definitely confident-boosting. I enjoy the crowd here. It’s dang near a hometown crowd with Navajo Nation right there.”

The Navajo Nation actually represented the top two spots after two rounds, as Native American rider Cody Jesus was second with an 85.50 score and 169.25 points after two rounds. The cheers were just as loud for Jesus, 23, who is ranked No. 58 in the world and is from Window Rock, Arizona.

Adriano Salgado, 23, of Spain, earned the best score of the night, 89.25, and was third with 163 points, he is ranked No. 49 in the world.

HUGE CROWD: An announced attendance number was not given. The Pit’s capacity is 18,018, but the entire section behind the chutes for the Ty Murray Invitational is left empty. Saturday’s crowd was greater than Friday, when plenty of seats were available.

HOLLY IN THE HOUSE: Albuquerque native and UFC fighter Holly Holm attended the second day of the Ty Murray Invitational. Before the action started, she was seen catching up with host Ty Murray in the media and hospitality room. The Ty Murray Invitational was on a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic before making its return this weekend for its 25th visit to Albuquerque.

Holm, who at first sat among spectators, was introduced during the competition and then got a special view standing among the riders at the chutes.

NEW DEAL: This weekend’s Ty Murray Invitational is the first year of a new five-year contract between the PBR and the University of New Mexico, said Ryan Seddon, PBR vice president of touring and live events.

The contract is essentially a rental-facility agreement, said Seddon, who did not want to provide the dollar amount of the contract.

UNM gained a net of around $200,000-$250,000 in 2019, Ryan Berryman, the UNM associate athletic for business operations, told the Journal on Thursday. That money was generated from rental facility, parking, merchandise and concessions.

The PBR worked with Nielsen research for an economic impact study on the PBR’s 2015 stop in Albuquerque, Seddon said. The Ty Murray had a $5.7 million economic impact on the region, including $490,000 in state and city sales tax, Seddon said.

“I want to see us continue to grow (in Albuquerque),” Seddon said of the future for PBR in the Duke City. “We’re sold out. We had to turn away people as they were coming to park (on Saturday). We have such a knowledgeable and passionate fan base here in Albuquerque, which makes this event very special to me. It’s the most unique atmosphere we have on tour.”

TV: Saturday night’s 15/15 Bucking Battle competition, in which the top 15 bull riders take on the top 15 bulls in attendance, will be aired on CBS Sunday at 10 am

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