Originally created 01/12/00

Futurity expected to be bigger this year



The 2000 Augusta Futurity won't have any trouble following the most successful year in show history.

The Atlantic Coast Cutting Horse Association, the group that formed and manages the cutting horse show, pulled out all the stops in 1999 for the Augusta Futurity's 20th anniversary. As a result, a record number of participants competed for the largest purse ever.

The numbers are expected to be comparable for the 21st show, scheduled for Jan. 21-29 at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.

According to Augusta Futurity show chairman W.S. Morris III, the entries are expected to be slightly higher this year (from 712 to more than 714) while the purse will drop from $799,000 to $742,000.

"I'm happy to report it's going to be one of the best and biggest shows we've had," Morris said Tuesday. "We're expecting record numbers here this year. These are all new horses (in the 4-year-old Futurity division) and we've got a lot of young, new riders coming. We'll have a good show."

Morris made his remarks at the annual Champions Club Roundup meeting at the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce building. The 87-member Champions Club is an Augusta Futurity patrons group. Members pay annual dues of $1,000, which go into the purse as added money. The money keeps the show competitive with others around the country by drawing the top names in the sport. This year, counting what the show will put in, there will be $200,000 in added money.

Morris said the Champions Club is one of three essential foundations that the show rests on. The others are sponsors and more than 100 volunteers.

"Without these groups, we simply couldn't do it," Morris said. "I'm most grateful to them."

Morris also tipped his hat to the community that welcomed and has supported the show, the largest of its kind east of the Mississippi River.

"One of the fundamental building blocks of the show, from the first show, has been the generous hospitality and courtesy Augustans have extended to competitors and spectators each year," Morris said. "It's not surprising, though, because that's the way Augustans are. Without a doubt, Augusta's hospitable support has made the difference."

The show will draw riders from 30 states, Canada and Belgium.

"We think this is the most unique and best cutting horse show of its type, and all our competitors and spectators feel that way because they continue to come back each year," Morris said. "Some travel very long distances to participate, to help with the show or just watch it."

There will be 10 events this year, including the America's Greatest Cowboy contest. This single-elimination, invitational event was revived in 1999.It was dropped after the 1994 show following a five-year run. The 1999 America's Greatest Cowboy contest featured 32 riders, both professional and non-professonal. With the 2000 Augusta Futurity, it will return to its original format of 16 professional riders in the America's Greatest Cowboy contest and 16 in the Non-Pro Shootout. Unlike most of the other events in the show, horses of any age can be shown in the Cowboy and Shootout.

"Some of the best cutting we have comes here because the horses are more mature and experienced," Morris said. "It's a great, fun sort of show and very popular. The competition is really great."

Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851.

21st annual Augusta Futurity

Where: Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center

When: Jan. 21-29.

Time: All events start at 8 a.m.

Daily Schedule Jan. 21: First go-round of $5,000 Non-Pro Any Age, followed by the first go-round of the $20,000 Amateur Any Age, followed by the Area 18 Youth Scholarship Cutting competition.

Jan. 22: First go-round of Classic Open, followed by first go-rounds of America's Greatest Cowboy contest and Non-Pro Shootout.

Jan. 23: First go-round of Classic Non-Pro, followed by futurity parade, followed by finals of America's Greatest Cowboy and Non-Pro Shootout contests, followed by finals of $5,000 Non-Pro Any Age and finals of $20,000 Amateur Any Age.

Jan. 24: First go-round of Futurity Open, followed by first go-round of $50,000 Amateur 5-6 year-old.

Jan. 25: First go-round of Futurity Non-Pro, followed by first go-round of $50,000 Amateur 4-year-old.

Jan. 26: Second go-round of Futurity Open, followed by second go-round of Classic Non-Pro, followed by finals of $50,000 Amateur 4-year-old, followed by finals of $50,000 Amateur 5-6 year-old.

Jan. 27: Second go-round of Futurity Non-Pro, followed by second go-round of Classic Open, followed by semifinals of Futurity Open.

Jan. 28: First go-round of $50,000 Amateur Any Age, followed by finals of $50,000 Amateur Any Age, followed by finals of Classic Non-Pro, followed by finals of Classic Open.

Jan. 29: Futurity horse sale at 9 a.m. Finals of Futurity Non-Pro start at 6:30 p.m., followed by finals of Futurity Open.

Tickets General admission daytime pass: $6 for adults, $2 for children under 13. Night shows for Jan. 22 and 23: $12 for adults each night, $2 for children. Reserved seating for Jan. 21-28: $13.50 for adults, $5 for children. Reserved seating for Jan. 29: $15.50 for adults, $5 for children. Family ticket for Jan. 21: $10, after 6 p.m. Gold ticket: $40 for admission to all events, except nights of Jan. 28-29.

Online www.augustafuturity.com