Excuse Kenny McLean for his confusion. He shocked even himself with the score he posted.
Just before 1:30 p.m., McLean took control of the first round of the $50,000 Amateur Any Age with a 221 in the 22nd Augusta Futurity at Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.
"When I looked up, I thought it was the time (of day)," McLean said. "That was a good run for me."
The Point Clear, Ala., rider shot to the top of the leaderboard as the sixth of 50 entrants in the contest. McLean said he was pleased with Smart Letha, his 6-year-old mare by Smart Little Lena out of Alethalena.
The objective in a cutting horse show is for a rider and horse to separate a cow from the herd and then prevent its return to the herd. In each 2 1/2-minute ride, at least two cows must be cut from the herd. Five judges score the ride. The highest and lowest scores are discounted, and the three remaining scores are added together to determine the result.
"I had two good cuts but didn't get enough on my second cut," McLean said. "I had 50 seconds for my third cow. I took a bunch out and tried to kill some time."
This class is open to riders whose National Cutting Horse Association career earnings do not exceed $50,000.
McLean followed his first attempt with another fine run 22 riders later on Dual Kual, a 7-year-old mare by Dual Pep out of Genuine Rose. He carded a 217 on the mare for a third-place finish.
"So far, I ain't complaining," he said. "It's kind of like golf. If you haven't played in a while and you go out and play pretty good, it's all downhill after that."
McLean defeated his nearest competitor, late entrant Curry Diehl by 2.5 points. The top 14 scorers had at least a 214 to advance to tonight's finals.
Diehl, 16, got final approval for the futurity from his dad, Frank, a few days ago, and the two arrived in Augusta at 3 a.m. Friday. The move paid off as the Ruskin, Fla., rider scored a 218.5 on Sanjo Olena, a 9-year-old stud by San Jo Lena out of Olenas Copp.
"Because of my schoolwork and all that stuff, my mom didn't want me to come," Diehl said. "But my dad said I could."
Meanwhile, 19-year-old Austin Blake rang up a 216 and tied Steve Estes for the go-round lead of the $20,000 Non-Pro Any Age.
Estes took the lead on Acres O Freckles, a mare by Bob Acre Doc out of Croton Colonel, in the third ride of the morning. On Smart Leapin Lena, a 12-year-old mare by Smart Little Lena out of Dry Docs Ruby Red, Blake tied Estes 25 riders later.
"It probably won't make first place but it ought to make the finals," said Blake, of Canyon, Texas.
Blake stayed next to the herd for much of his run. After cutting his first cow, he cut his second one before time expired.
"I was kind of close to the herd," he said. "I would've done better if I would've gotten up out of there."
The top 12 riders scored 212 or better to advance to tonight's finals. David Dodge, of Madison, Ga., put up a 213 as the 48th of 50 riders.
"There wasn't much to talk about," Dodge said. "I just tried to cut clean and let the horse do his job."
Dodge rode Dual Lena, a 9-year-old gelding by Dual Pep out of Miss Macalena.
"We had a little luck with the cows," Dodge said. "The third cut wasn't real pretty, but the other ones were all right."
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222.
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