Faron Hightower doubled his pleasure on Saturday night.
Hightower posted a 221 and defeated Jody Galyean by three points to win the Futurity Open finals of the 22nd annual Augusta Futurity. On Friday night, Hightower won the Classic Open title.
The futurity class is for 4-year-old horses; the classic is for 5- and 6-year-old horses.
On Saturday night, the 44-year-old Hightower rode Pretty Boy Cat, a stallion by High Brow Cat out of Pretty Lean Chick, to the title. He won the 1993 Classic Open on High Brow Cat.
With his two wins this weekend, Hightower joins Pete Branch and Terry Riddle with four Augusta Futurity wins, two titles behind all-time Augusta victory leader Phil Rapp. Also, Hightower became only the second person to win the Classic Open and Futurity Open titles in the same year. Last year, Lloyd Cox pulled off the feat.
"Those little young punks, you have to kind of sit them down every now and then," Hightower said, jokingly. "Us old-timers, I just wanted to let them know that we're not over the hill yet. We're not done yet."
Hightower, of Bluff Dale, Texas, earned a first-place check of $20,932, while Galyean collected $15,070 for second place. Hightower rode fourth out of the 17 horses.
"My main thing was just to get cut clean," Hightower said. "And this horse has got a lot of crowd appeal. That little horse has got a way of mesmerizing the cow and will keep a cow from doing a whole lot. It's just that he gets to looking at them so hard that he gets their attention, and they don't want to go anywhere.
"After cutting the first two cows, I'd felt like I had laid down a pretty good run at that point. And here it don't take but a millisecond for something to go wrong."
Pretty Boy Cat, though, had good enough genes to win this weekend. Hightower felt all along that his stallion could give a championship run.
"Each run, he was getting better and better," he said. "Talent-wise, there's no doubt in my mind he has the ability to win all of them. Everything just kind of fell into place."
Unfortunately for Galyean, he knew way too much about falling. The 46-year-old Ardmore, Okla., rider broke his right shoulder in a pickup basketball game Dec. 30 when someone took his legs out from underneath him. With his right arm in a brace, Galyean rode CD Precious Gem one-handed and scored a 218.
"I think it hampered me a little bit," he said. "I don't think it looks quite as good when you're down there riding. I think maybe it detracted from my run a little bit being like that because I had an awful good run. It doesn't look normal down there. There's little things riding-wise that it keeps you from being able to do."
However, Galyean is not disappointed with his finish.
"I'm tickled to death," Galyean said. "I'd rather had first, but I'm tickled with second. You're always glad with what you get, especially because those cattle are so tough."
Defending champion Cox advanced both Shootin Poo and WR Smart Hickory into the finals. Cox, though, only scored as high as 214.5 on Shootin Poo for a sixth-place finish.
"That was just a tremendous job by Faron," Cox said. "I helped him. He helped us. I'm going to tell him here in a minute that I did a better job helping him than he helped me."
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222.
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