Luis De Armas' long day ended in fine fashion.
After winning the morning go-round of the $100,000 Amateur for 5/6-Year-Olds, the first-time Augusta Futurity competitor capped off his evening with another special run.
Aboard Chief Red Puff, De Armas marked 219 to win the event's finals by three points at James Brown Arena.
With the victory, De Armas of Caracas, Venezuela, earned a check for $4,463. Clint Hixson and Peppers Stylish Cat placed second at 216 for $3,719. Van E. Holcombe and Sugar Widows finished third at 214 ($2,975), while Dora Daoud and Tummys Little Gun finished fourth (212, $2,231) followed by Julie Beasley and Dualin In The Snow (206, $1,488).
"This just happened and I'm starting to put my feet on the Earth," said De Armas, the Augusta Futurity's first South American champion. "I'm really happy."
De Armas, his wife, Gloria, and two daughters (Alesia, 6, and Manuela, 3) flew into Florida, met his in-laws in Boca Raton and drove to Augusta. He met his trainer, Skip Queen, the original owner of the 5-year-old gelding, here. Queen bought the horse as a 2-year-old and later sold it to his mother-in-law, Becky Elliott. Last summer, she sold the horse to De Armas.
All the while, Queen continued to train the horse.
"It took me a little bit of time to learn how to ride him," De Armas said. "But I think we're starting to get along very good."
De Armas and Chief Red Puff, a horse by Cats Red Feather out of Pepilena Lass, marked 217 to win the morning go-round.
De Armas started showing cutting horses in the United States in 2008. He makes it to a handful of events when his job allows him. In Caracas, he works as a commodity trader of items such as wheat, corn, sugar cane and molasses for the feed and food industry.
On Friday night, he made his hobby look easy. De Armas credits the cows for his successful run.
"They were a little bit challenging, but that's what it takes to get a good score," he said. "The horse was right there every turn. Basically, everything went as I planned. It went really smooth, really nice."
De Armas said the chemistry he and his horse have developed also led to the pair winning a title.
"He's getting better and better every day," De Armas said. "He's a big horse. You really have to wait on him, because if you make him turn too quick it's really easy to get out of position."
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.