Phil Rapp's most recent victory at the Augusta Futurity might have been the most special in all of his years competing.
Atop My Guy Rey, Rapp notched his eighth Augusta victory on Saturday night. He and the stallion marked 220 to win the Augusta Futurity Open finals by 1.5 points at James Brown Arena.
"The cows weren't really challenging tonight," Rapp said. "I drew up early enough that I put up a good score and if you wanted to beat that score you had to be mistake-free. I was very fortunate."
Rapp, the Augusta Futurity's all-time money winner, collected $24,901 with his latest victory. Sam Shepard and Playful Ricochet placed second at 218.5 for $16,600. Lloyd Cox and Bitty Little Lena finished third (217, $14,110).
But what made Saturday's win so significant was that his wife, Mary Ann, was there to celebrate with him.
Rapp, of Weatherford, Texas, was very fortunate away from the pen 11 months ago. At a futurity in Las Vegas, he rushed his wife to the hospital. Mary Ann was in labor. It took her 14 minutes to reach the delivery room from the time they reached the hospital.
She delivered the baby five weeks early. Phil was with his newborn daughter, but he kept checking on his wife. He sensed something wasn't right.
"I kept looking over my shoulder thinking, 'Boy, that's a lot of blood here,' " he said.
Because of complications, she went through 16 pints of blood.
The doctors soon came back to Phil and asked him to sign his first piece of paperwork. They needed to perform emergency surgery. He asked if there was anything else they could do, but she was minutes away from dying.
"I prayed for my wife's life and for my baby," Phil said. "Other people were there and prayed with us. You could feel the Holy Spirit there."
The doctors successfully performed the surgery. Mary Ann spent four days in intensive care. She left the hospital within the week.
"It's by the grace of God," Phil said, "that Mary Ann is still with us and that Emma is still healthy and good."
Mary Ann won the 2001 and 2003 Augusta Futurity Non-Pro titles.
Emma Grace and 5-year-old Ryan were not in attendance Saturday night. They went home early before their dad's winning run.
If they had stuck around, they would've seen another fine performance by him. He and My Guy Rey, a stallion by Dual Rey out of Frost My Pepper, is owned by Charles Burger of Chatsworth, Ga.
"He's a very talented horse," Rapp said. "He has a lot of athletic ability. He's always had the talent. It's just been a matter of channeling his focus."
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.