Will Arthur's luck in the Augusta Futurity finally changed on Friday.
After failed attempts this week to make finals appearances in two other classes, he broke through atop Persius in the $50,000 Amateur Any Age.
The two posted 215.5 at Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center to qualify for tonight's final.
Thirteen horses marked 214 or better to advance.
The final will be preceded by the Area 18 Youth Scholarship Cutting final. It begins at 7:30.
"I finally got one in after three times," Arthur said. "Bad cows. It just didn't work."
Kaitlyn Larsen and Shania Pep and Jon D Price and Jae Bar Jewels - who each worked in the first bunch of horses - tied for the top go-round score at 218. Sterling McDavid and Docs Stylish Jewels finished at 216.5.
The 15-year-old Arthur, of Turkey, N.C., persevered on his run. He cut three cows, but struggled making the second cut. Two white cows stood out in the middle. He wanted one; his horse wanted the other.
"I had a little bobble there," he said. "He took the wrong cow, but I just held him up there a little bit. He just hooked right in. He knew what he had to do. Once he figured out what cow I wanted him on, I knew he was going to try. He usually always does."
Arthur said despite his previous two disappointing runs this week, he wasn't going to let the minor mistake keep him out of the finals.
"It happens to everybody," he said. "You'll see the best of the best show, and it'll happen to them. You can't get down about it. You have to keep going."
Arthur's been showing cutting horses for four years. He got drawn into the sport because his uncle, Jeffrey Matthews, competes in the cutting.
Arthur's interest snowballed after his mother, Carroll Baggett, got involved. She won the $20,000 Non-Pro in the 2002 Augusta Futurity - and now Arthur is seeking his first Augusta title after making finals in the previous three years.
"Me and her do all the cutting together a lot," Arthur said. "We help each other. We encourage each other."
That encouragement helped Arthur keep focused on the sport. However, he didn't learn at an accelerated pace until he studied trainer Matt Gaines.
"It just seemed too complicated. I got in one of those slumps where you kind of can't get out of it," Arthur said. "Then I went and watched some people. The more I watched, the better I felt about it."
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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