Playgun showed why he is considered a cutting horse legend in his own time on Tuesday at the Augusta Futurity.
The 5-year-old stallion worked his magic in the Classic Non-Pro's first go-round, marking the round's top score, a 218.5. The Classic is for 5- and 6-year-old horses.
Tommy Manion of Aubrey, Texas, finished second with a 218 on SPL Altisimo.
On Tuesday, owner Dick Pieper of Marietta, Okla., was in the saddle on Playgun, the only horse in Augusta Futurity history to sweep both the Futurity Open and Futurity Non-Pro titles in show history. That happened last year when Pieper won the non-pro and pro trainer Jody Galyean took the open title.
The biggest shocker through four days of this year's show came on Sunday when Galyean failed to advance Playgun to the second go-round of the Classic Open. A hot quit penalty on Galyean led to a 210. It took a 213 to advance.
Pieper said he felt no pressure on Tuesday knowing that Playgun was already knocked out of the Classic Open.
"It's kind of fun to show this horse because we are at the point he doesn't have to prove anything to anybody. He's had an illustrious career," Pieper said.
Playgun, an expressive worker who can control almost any cow, has $140,000 in career earnings. In addition to winning the two Augusta titles in 1996, the stallion won the Bonanza cutting in April with Pieper aboard and the Steamboat Springs event in August with Galyean riding. The stallion is by Freckles Playboy out of Miss Silver Pistol.
"For me, riding this horse is a comfortable situation," Pieper said. "You feel like you can go down there and show. The problem Jody had in the first go (of the Classic Open) was just a bad luck kind of thing."
Pieper isn't going to retire Playgun to stand at stud anytime soon. Another great horse as a 4-year-old in 1996, Peptoboonsmal, was retired to stand stud after winning the NCHA Derby last July.
"Jody and I have talked about it quite a bit, but he's going good," Pieper said of Playgun. "A lot of people say, `Well, he's won so much, is that it, are you going to retire him?' He's sound, he's happy and he likes his job. He seems to be getting better. It sure is fun showing him."
In Tuesday's first go-round of the Classic Non-Pro, Pieper and Playgun had a late draw - 10th in the 11-horse third set of cattle. That is not the place to be because most of the cows that will respect a rider's horse have already been worked by that time.
"I was really pleased with the ride because I was pretty far down in the cattle," Pieper said. "My goal was to just survive and make the next go-round. It's nice when you can do that with a little bit of a margin."
It took a 208 to make it to Thursday's second go-round.