Adan Banuelos has entertained Augusta Futurity audiences in the past with his roping exhibitions.
After Thursday night, he'll be known for something else.
Adan, of Jacksboro, Texas, and Tronas Choice rung up 219 to best the rest of the competitors in the $20,000 Non-Pro Any Age finals by 4.5 points at Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.
Adan, who earned $4,405, did the near impossible. He won the event in dominant fashion despite riding last in the 13-horse competition.
"The cows have been good all day," Adan said. "We knew it could be done. We weren't really worried about what we cut as long as we cut clean."
Mary Ellen Graves benefited from a scoring change in the go-round to make the finals. Judges originally marked 202 on her run atop Haidas Scout, but later corrected the score to 211.
Graves, of Hilton Head Island, S.C., marked 214.5 to finish second for $3,270. Todd Quirk of Denham Springs, La., and Poison Oak Smarts showed third for $2,725.
The 16-year-old Banuelos became the first cutter in his family of competitors - including his father, Ascension - to win an Augusta Futurity title. Ascension Banuelos is a member of the National Cutting Horse Association Riders Hall of Fame.
"I'm a proud daddy," Ascension Banuelos said. "I can tell you that. He's been working hard. Everything worked out for him today."
Tronas Choice is a 7-year-old gelding by SR Instant Choice out of Smart Little Trona. Adan's mother, Tiffani, owns the horse, which the family has raised since birth.
As the horse has matured, so has Adan. He credits his father for his progression as a cutter.
"Now that I'm older, my dad and I work together," Adan said. "It helps. We're out together all day, and I pick up a bunch."
Adan knew after working his first cow he'd have to step up his game.
"My first cow, I wasn't aggressive as I should've been," he said. "But my help and my dad were talking to me and they brought me back."
Tronas Choice took control of the second cow and picked up points on the third to earn the victory. Not an easy task, considering all the cows that had already been cut.
"We were running out of cows, but we had a good plan," Ascension Banuelos said.
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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