LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Luis Blanco kept tossing and turning while lying in his bed last Friday night at the Tucson Marriott University Park hotel.
He had just been bucked off by Circus Mouse in 7.85 seconds earlier in the night during the first round of the Tucson, Arizona, Built Ford Tough Series event, and he knew how costly that failure was.
Blanco needed points toward the world standings and he was milliseconds away from potentially getting a qualified ride on the board.
“I couldn’t sleep because I missed my chance,” Blanco said. “At four in the morning I said, ‘Well, I have to forget about it.’”
Blanco received a phone call from his 81-year-old mother, Maria, after getting a few hours of shut-eye.
Maria had watched the event on PBR LIVE and tried to alleviate her son’s disappointment. She told him to not worry about the buckoff and to instead focus on what lie ahead.
Luis – the 39th rider in the world standings – is just thankful to even still be in the hunt for qualifying for the World Finals heading into this weekend’s BlueDEF Velocity Tour Finals at the KFC Yum! Center on Friday and Saturday night.
In April, he had traveled back home to Brazil for a few weeks to help his mother with her chemotherapy treatment at Cancer Hospital Barretos.
“I missed five events because I went to Brazil because my mom had cancer,” Luis said. “I dropped to (45th) in the world standings. I am very glad to even have a chance to fight and get in to the World Finals.”
Maria had been undergoing the treatment for colon cancer and has since been deemed cancer free, says Luis.
“She is healthy now,” he said. “She is tough.”
Blanco has been one of the many riders on the Built Ford Tough Series wearing pink in support of breast cancer awareness month and the PBR Pink Promise campaign.
The PBR Pink Promise campaign is helping raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). The campaign will be capped off with the PBR Buck-a-Thon during the Built Ford Tough World Finals on Oct. 22. The PBR has pledged $250 for every qualified ride and $1,000 for every 90-point ride during Round 2.
Fans can donate and support the cause in a variety of ways HERE.
“This means a lot,” Blanco said. “Every time I put it on, I feel so great. I use that color to help a lot of people. I am ready to help this (cause) too.”
Luis and Maria talk on a frequent basis, and Luis would love to be able to qualify for the World Finals so that his mom could see him compete on the PBR’s biggest stage on TV.
He will have to put together a strong weekend in Louisville to make that goal come to fruition.
Blanco begins the event 122.5 points behind No. 36 Lachlan Richardson for the last qualifying spot in the world standings. He is also 167.5 points behind Kaique Pacheco for the BlueDEF championship, which also gives a rider an automatic bid.
“That is what I have been thinking of the last two weeks,” he said. “The champion spot is still open. The leader is only 160 points ahead. I have three rounds to fight and try and win the title.”
Blanco, who has drawn Super Trooper in Round 1, could also finish in the Top-3 in the event average and earn a ticket to Finals that way.
He finished the BDVT regular season with a series-best 19 qualified rides, and Blanco’s success on the BDVT helped him compete in 10 Built Ford Tough Series events.
“The level here (BFTS) is very different from Velocity,” Blanco said. “Riding here helps me a lot. It helps me be more focused. It is the opportunity everybody wants.”
The Iacanga, Brazil, bull rider is also no stranger to being on the cusp of qualifying for the World Finals.
Blanco finished last year 40th in the world standings and just missed out of qualifying for the World Finals. However, he did compete in the fifth round as an alternate and was bucked off by American Hustle in 3.47 seconds.
He earned that opportunity in part because of a late-season Touring Pro Division victory in Columbus, Ohio, a year ago.
“I told Tyler Harr, ‘Last year, I won Columbus, Ohio, on my birthday,’” said Blanco, who turns 27 years old on Saturday. “Today, I will try to do the same thing at the Velocity Finals.”
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