Bret Parsons' full-time job is working as a farmhand in Congerville, Ill.
When he comes to the Augusta Futurity on a yearly basis, Parsons continues to have chores: cleaning stalls, loping horses and preparing horses.
For him, this is no vacation.
"It never is," he said.
Parsons' hard work paid off Saturday morning. On Haley Bop Hickory, the 20-year-old cutter marked 220 to win first go-round of the $50,000 Amateur for 5/6-Year-Olds in the 24th annual Augusta Futurity at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.
The top 12 horses with a score of 215.5 or better advanced to today's final, which begin at 8 a.m. Cyndi Goodwin, of Weatherford, Texas, rode TJ Gin Oak to a tie for second place with Adam Koontz and Cloud Nine (DNA) at 219.
Koontz, of Belton, S.C., posted his same score from last year, which won the go-round. The 19-year-old Clemson student had ridden his 6-year-old gelding only five times before competing in last year's futurity, but in the past year, the two have earned almost $40,000 on the circuit.
"I don't worry about him much anymore," said Koontz, who won the $50,000 Amateur for 4-Year-Olds last year on a different horse. "Last year, I really didn't know him. He's taken care of me all year. He's turned into one of my favorite horses."
Parsons, who turns 21 next month, said he's come to the futurity since he was little. Parsons is here with his father, Bob, and mother, Terri. Bob Parsons is competing in the Futurity Non-Pro, which starts Tuesday.
Bret Parsons was a co-reserve champion in the $50,000 Amateur for 4-Year-Olds in 2002, but missed the final by a point on Haley Bop Hickory in the $50,000 Amateur for 5/6-Year-Olds.
"Last year, I was the second horse in the morning," Parsons said. "The cattle were slow. There was nothing to be asked about, and it just all counts. Early in the morning, (judges) are looking for that good score, that good hard ride."
Saturday, on his 6-year-old mare, Parsons delivered that ride on the seventh run of the 71-horse competition.
"Everything just worked out," he said. "It was luck of the draw. The cattle were real good. I had good help, and I couldn't argue with that. Everybody out there was trying."
Parsons was trying his best to avoid to thinking about today's finals.
"I can't say nothing there," Parsons said. "This deal here will make you eat humble pie quicker than snot. You just have to stay cool. You can't go expecting to say you're going to go do something. It'll bite you in the rear end."
$50,000 AMATEUR 5/6 YEAR OLD FINAL GO-ROUND Listed by working order, rider name, rider's hometown, horse name and previous score.
1. Steven Feiner, Los Angeles, CA, Lena Boon, 216.0
2. Linda Chambless, Poolville, TX, Chloes My Aunt, 216.0
3. Kathy Reeves, St. George, SC, Peppy Caspy, 216.0
4. Donna Goett, Weatherford, TX, Purple Lynx, 217.0
5. Carroll Baggett, Turkey, NC, Belle Mate, 216.0
6. Bret Parsons, Congerville, IL, Haley Bop Hickory, 220.0
7. Cyndi Goodwin, Weatherford, TX, TJ Gin Oak, 219.0
8. Crystal Morrison, Rock Hill, SC, Onesmartone, 218.5
9. Adam Koontz, Belton, SC, Cloud Nine (DNA), 219.0
10. Catherine Lacy, Crested Butte, CO, Uno Mermaid, 215.5
11. Jim Langdale, Valdosta, GA, He Packs A Pistol, 216.5
12. Mimi Rodgers, Dallas, TX, Snappy Aristocrat, 216.0