The Augusta Futurity celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2019, so it might be only fitting that some of its longest supporters, the Shepards, headlined the 4-Year-Old finals held Jan. 19 in Augusta, Georgia.
The clan from Summerdale, Alabama, went 1-2 in the 4-Year-Old Open: Equi-Stat Elite $7 Million Rider Austin Shepard won with Bama Jelly and his father, Equi-Stat Elite $2 Million Rider Sam Shepard, earned the Open Reserve Championship with Barney Ross. Earlier in the night, 17-year-old Cade Shepard, Austin’s son, won the Non-Pro with Lite Headed.
The Shepard family has been coming to the show since its inception. All three riders have won at the show, and Sam had a perfect attendance streak going for the event until missing last year’s edition with an illness.
“We have so much history here at Augusta, not only for my family, but for everybody from the Southeast — even people from Texas that have been coming here forever,” Austin said. “It’s just a special show.”
The family connection at this year’s event extended to the horses Sam and Austin rode. Bama Jelly and Barney Ross are both stallions by Bamacat, a son of Equi-Stat Elite $80 Million Sire High Brow Cat ridden almost exclusively by Austin to $352,194 in the cutting pen. Two of Bamacat’s many top placings were in Augusta; he and Austin won the show’s 5/6-Year-Old Open Championship in 2014 and were second in the 5/6-Year-Old Open in 2015.
Austin was glad Bama Jelly had a shot at redemption in the Augusta Futurity. Specifically, he felt owner Joel Colgrove’s stallion, who marked a 225 to win, didn’t get the chance to show how good he really was at last year’s National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity in Fort Worth, Texas.
“He’s just been special the whole time,” Austin said of the horse, who finished 16th in the NCHA Futurity Open. “I’m really sick that I didn’t do a better job of getting him showed better at the Futurity in December, because I feel like he was capable of being in the top of that and I just didn’t get him showed very good.”
The $9,000 first-place check in Augusta pushed Bama Jelly’s Equi-Stat record to more than $38,604 in lifetime winnings. He is the leading money-earner out of his dam, Wood She Be Neat. The daughter of Nitas Wood also is the dam of Neat Lil High Brow, a daughter of High Brow CD who made the 2019 Augusta Futurity Non-Pro finals with owner/rider Madalyn Colgrove.
Reserve Champion Barney Ross is the first money-earner out of Haidandsmoke, a daughter of Smart Smokin Pep out of NCR Colonels Tacha (by Colonel Rey Lew) who earned $47,540 in the show pen. He was bred by Darrell and Steph Copeland, of Mc Alpin, Florida.
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