If futurity judges thought they were busy in 2011, they had even more work one year later. With an uptick in the number of entries, judges spent six days rating rides from 9 in the morning to well into the evening. One night, competition ran past 2 a.m., but the judges toughed it out.
As they do every year, five judges rank rides on a scale between 60 and 80 points, with half-points being allowed. The final score is reached by dropping the highest and lowest scores and taking the total of the remaining three scores. The highest possible score is 240.
A score of 220 or better is considered exceptional. In Augusta, 35 riders have reached the 225 mark. During the Augusta Futurity’s first 23 years, judges awarded just 11 scores of 225 or better. In the previous 10 years, 24 scores matched or bettered that number. Three riders and horses eclipsed the 225 total in 2012.
In eight official Augusta Futurity events, judges saw 17 scores of 220 or better. In the two Mercuria events, 20 other scores reached 220 or better.
In the four 2012 amateur events, just three competitors reached the 220 level. Chisolm Clark and Swinging Til Five posted 225 in $50,000 Amateur Any Age finals.
Phil Rapp rung up the highest score of the show – and a new Augusta record – with 231 aboard Dont Look Twice in the Mercuria Open finals. In the Mercuria Non-Pro go-round, Elizabeth Queen and Sister CD marked 227. Queen and Lindy Burch are the lone women in the 225 Club. In the 2003 Futurity Open finals, Burch and Play Peek A Boon marked 227.
Also in the 2003 Futurity Open finals, Tag Rice and Chiquita Pistol posted 230.5 to set the arena record – a mark that stood for nine years – passing Pete Branch’s mark on Little Badger Dulce (227) set in the 1995 Classic Open. In 2004, Rice and Chiquita Pistol returned to mark 230 in the Western Horseman Cup Open finals.