Of all the big shows he's attended through the years, famed trainer Matt Gaines has yet to win Futurity Open titles at just two of them.
Gaines took a step closer Tuesday to crossing one of those off his list.
Aboard Hoo Rey For Dreams, Gaines marked 220 to win the Futurity Open first go-round at James Brown Arena.
Brett Davis and Sly Angel finished tied for second at 218.5 with Brad Mitchell and Lost Wages Cat. Sam Shepard and My Lil Cadillac placed fourth at 218.
The top 63 horses with scores of 211 or better advanced to today's second go-round.
The finals will be held Saturday night.
Should he qualify for the championship round, Gaines will be seeking his first Augusta Futurity Open title.
The other place he hasn't won? The NCHA Futurity in Fort Worth, Texas.
"It'd be nice to win here," said Gaines, a two-time Classic Open winner.
"If that's the way it's supposed to happen, it'll happen.
Gaines and Hoo Rey For Dreams got off to a fast start in the first go-round, cutting two cows.
"I started the run off good and got a hold of her," he said. "The first cow I cut was pretty honest, but it didn't get real tricky. She handled it real well and looked good."
Gaines and his horse ran into trouble with the second cow. After clearing the cow they wanted away from the herd, another cow fell down in front of them and spooked some other cows. After a few seconds, Gaines and his horse managed to navigate the trouble and work the original cow.
"I finally got her cut," he said. "She was a great cow. She stayed away from me but was pretty quick. She tried my horse pretty good."
Gaines and his mount managed to post the round's top score despite drawing up 10th in a bunch of 12 horses.
"Late in the bunch, we were fortunate to find a couple of cows that'd let us have that kind of run," he said.
Gaines found the horse for Gary and Shannon Barker to purchase in June 2008.
Hoo Rey For Dreams is by Dual Rey out of Dreams of Oak.
"She has a pretty way of doing things," Gaines said. "She works low to the ground. She seems to be pretty smart about a cow. She seems to be pretty honest and consistent.
"She's just gotten better and better. She's a mare. She's going to do good. She's going to win a lot of money. She just needs a few things to go her way."
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or email@example.com.