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Photos: Luke Snyder wins $200K at PBR’s ‘Last Cowboy Standing’

2011 <em>Last Cowboy Standing</em> Champion Luke Snyder

Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

2011 PBR Last Cowboy Standing champion Luke Snyder at Mandalay Bay Events Center on April 16, 2011.

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2011 PBR ‘Last Cowboy Standing’

The 2011 PBR Last Cowboy Standing at Mandalay Bay Events Center on April 16, 2011. Launch slideshow »

2011 ‘Last Cowboy Standing’ Champion Luke Snyder

2011 PBR Last Cowboy Standing champion Luke Snyder at Mandalay Bay Events Center on April 16, 2011. Launch slideshow »

2011 PBR ‘Last Cowboy Standing’ After-Party

Justin McBride at PBR Rock Bar & Grill at Planet Hollywood on April 16, 2011. Launch slideshow »

It came down to the final ride of the night, and Luke Snyder battled three consecutive bulls for 8 seconds apiece to win the $200,000 first-place prize. The highest one-day payout of the 2011 Professional Bull Riders series won him an instant berth in the World Finals, where he could win a $1 million bonus. It also was the 300th ride of the 28-year-old’s career, the third most in PBR history.

Luke didn’t disappoint the crowd of 6,011 at Mandalay Bay Events Center and the pay-per-view audience last night. The Missouri cowboy rode the stomping, snarling and snorting Wild & Out for 90 points to be the Last Cowboy Standing in the progressive-elimination event.

Luke also earned $16,500 in round money and moved from 31st to first place in the season earnings race with more than $240,000. He won Round 1 with 88 points on Slim Chance and tied for second in Round 2 with 90.5 points on Braveheart.

Contributing photographer Tom Donoghue was ringside for his close-up, thrilling and heart-stopping action photo galleries. Thanks also to photographer Denise Truscello for her photos of Luke and PBR legend and former UNLV student turned country singer Justin McBride at the after-party at PBR Rock Bar & Grill at Planet Hollywood.

The $216,500 was the highest one-day payout of the 2011 PBR Built Ford Tough Series season and the second highest in history. It guaranteed Luke’s place in his 11th PBR World Finals, which are Oct. 26-30 at the Thomas & Mack Center. The richest bull-riding event in the world is where the 2011 PBR world champion will be crowned and thus gives Luke a shot at the $1 million bonus.

Last night’s action began with 40 riders, but only 16 advanced to Round 2, including 2008 PBR World Champion Guilherme Marchi and 2006 PBR Rookie of the Year Reese Cates. Then only four riders advanced to the third round. Pistol Robinson, Aaron Roy and Sean Willingham were bucked off, so it all came down to Luke.

It’s the second big payday in Las Vegas for Luke. A decade ago, he hit a $263,000 jackpot at 19 with a win at the PBR World Finals in 2001 with the Rookie of the Year title, in addition to finishing the season with $348,561 in earnings.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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