Originally created 02/03/01

Kelley Bartlett claims Classic Non-Pro title on borrowed horse



Cool Little Feet hit a hot streak Friday night.

In the Classic Non-Pro finals, Deborah Kelley Bartlett collected $15,055 after scoring a 222 to win by 6.5 points.

Later, Faron Hightower rode the mare to a 220 to win the Classic Open by one point over Phil Rapp for a first-place check of $19,143

"As good a horses and as good a riders that are here, I never thought that we would win the Open and the Non-Pro," owner H.B. Bartlett said. "I was stunned. I really was."

Cool Little Feet, a 6-year-old mare by Smart Little Lena out of Royal Dandy Lena, is owned by the Bartletts of Pike Road, Ala. Her sire, Smart Little Lena, is the sire of more horses in the Augusta Futurity (32) than any other sire.

Hightower rode second among the 21 finalists and held off 19 other competitors, including two-time defending Classic Open champion Lloyd Cox. For the second straight year, Cox rode Smart Lookin Hi Brow, but this time he could manage only a 217 and tied for sixth place.

"The cows were tough tonight," said Hightower, who won the Classic Open in 1993 and '96. "I hate to say luck, but tonight there probably was a lot of luck involved.

"Everything was trying to get away tonight, and I was just fortunate enough to stay between the cow and the herd."

Hightower joked that because Cool Little Feet had won earlier in the evening, he knew he had to do well, too.

"The pressure was on me because Kelley Bartlett had already won the Non-Pro," he said. "And the mare looked super. So then I had to out there and not get shown up too bad."

Six-time Augusta Futurity champion Phil Rapp posted a 219 on Cats Full Measure, the same horse he rode to win the Futurity Non-Pro last year. Rapp's score was good enough for second place and a $12,978 check.

Deborah Kelley Bartlett might not give back Cool Little Feet after her win. On the loaned mare from husband H.B. Bartlett, she recorded the second-highest score in the event's history.

"She's ridden her before and said she didn't like her," said H.B. Bartlett, the primary rider of the horse.

"I'm going to ask my husband if he'll give her to me, but I don't think he will," she said. "He just asked me if I wanted to ride her and I said, `Sure.' I never even practiced on her."

The reason she rode H.B.'s horse was because he had three entered in the Classic Non-Pro. Cutters can ride only two horses in an event here.

H.B. Bartlett, a two-time winner in the 2000 Augusta Futurity, rode Cool Little Feet in the Classic Non-Pro last year. His luck, though, wasn't as good; he finished in 52nd place and missed the finals.

Deborah Kelley Bartlett rode first in the second group of 10, and her draw paid off.

"I didn't think it would be an advantage," she said. "I thought it was going to be a disadvantage for me. Sometimes (riding) first is not a good place to be. But Mike Mowery had told me earlier that he thought it was in a real good spot to be in these kind of cattle."

The cattle had been an ornery bunch, especially for the first 10 riders. Expectant mother Mary Ann Rapp led with a 215 in the first group with 10 riders remaining. However, Bartlett had no cattle problems.

"They were real easy to cut," she said. "They were tough in the go-rounds. But she just came right on through."

Today concludes the 22nd annual Augusta Futurity. The Futurity Non-Pro finals begin at 6:30 p.m. with the Futurity Open finals to follow.

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222.