By Josh Weinfuss
(Indianapolis) Star correspondent
He has a Napoleon complex but doesn’t know it.
He’s smaller than his peers but faster, tougher and better than them.
He outthinks his competition, and it has allowed him to conquer everyone who crosses his path. They think he’ll go right and he goes left. They tempt him and he’ll fight them.
He’s not an all-star point guard or All-American tailback.
He is Asteroid, and Asteroid is a bull.
“He’s very athletic,” said Justin Coon, who rode Asteroid for 6.74 seconds earlier this year, one of the longest rounds on the bull this season. “He’s put together real well. He’s smart. The bulls today are bred to buck like racehorses are bred to run.
“He’s smart and he knows how to throw cowboys off.”
Asteroid is considered one of the world’s toughest bulls to ride. This weekend he returns to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the site of his Professional Bull Riders debut a year ago. Asteroid was nervous for his first PBR event, series co-founder and Director of Livestock Cody Lambert remembered. Asteroid bumped the shoot and didn’t get out clean. Nobody was impressed.
Since then, Asteroid has been out of this world. He has bucked off 92 percent of riders and has a streak of 11 in a row, according to PBR.com. This year, he’s 6-0.
But his story is longer than eight seconds. Asteroid is among the smaller bulls on the circuit, weighing in at 1,397 pounds. The average bull is 1,700 pounds; the largest is 2,400 pounds. What Asteroid lacks in size, he makes up in stature.
That’s why Asteroid has become the star bull of the PBR.
“You can tell if a bull doesn’t care if a rider rides him or not,” Lambert said. “If he just kinda goes through the motions, he’ll probably never get to the level that Asteroid has.
“Asteroid’s one of the bulls with the ability to turn on the extreme effort every time. You can tell he loves his job.”
It’s not a coincidence that those around Asteroid talk about him like he’s human. Those who have tried to conquer the bull for those apparently unreachable eight seconds have come across a genius of sorts. Asteroid can feel where the rider is and does the unexpected. If a rider shifts his weight to the left, Asteroid will most likely go right. His first buck is a test, Coon and Austin Meier (who also couldn’t stay on Asteroid eight seconds) said. Asteroid figures out where the rider is and adjusts.
“He’s a thinker . . . he thinks when he’s bucking,” Meier said. “He doesn’t ever do the same trick twice. You never know what his next step’s going to be. He really keeps you honest. On a wrangle like that, you can’t really find something to beat him at.”
But the bull with a “hair trigger” isn’t as complex as his star-studded human counterparts.
Simply put by Coon: “I think he wants to buck you off and go on about his business.”