Harris Shepard, right, won the 2020 NCHA Limited Open Futurity with Playful Bamacat. They're pictured with Courtney McNamee, who helps prepare the horse for shows. * Photo by Kristin Pitzer

Harris Shepard Wins Emotional NCHA Futurity Limited Open

Harris Shepard scored the biggest win of his career with a 225-point run that had the Will Rogers faithful screaming their support. The applause wasn’t just for the run.

It surely also was for the family.

The horse Shepard rode to victory, Playful Bamacat, was owned by his late father, respected cutting horse trainer Sam Shepard, who died in September after a battle with a chronic illness.

“This horse is pretty special to me. He was my dad’s horse, and definitely this means a lot,” Shepard said after the award’s ceremony Monday, Nov. 30 in Will Rogers Coliseum. “Can’t really put it into words to have my first win in this Coliseum. It’s pretty special.”

Harris said he and his father both rode Playful Bamacat when he was younger, and remembered remarking to his dad on the horse’s talent.

“We both kind of rode him together,” Harris said. “I remember when I started him, I told him I thought he was pretty special. I definitely hadn’t ridden one like him before.

“He definitely means a lot to me.”

Harris said his older brother, Equi-Stat Elite $8 Million Rider Austin Shepard, was a big help in getting Playful Bamacat ready to show at the Futurity, which began Nov. 19 and continues through Dec. 13 in Fort Worth, Texas.

“He’s been unbelievable during all of this, getting ready for this deal,” Harris said. “You know, I’m an emotional roller coaster getting him ready, because I’ve never had this good of a horse to show out here, and I can’t even express what Austin has done for me.

“I’m very blessed, that’s for sure.”

Limited Open Sire

Playful Bamacat is a son of Bamacat, who was showed almost exclusively in the Open by Austin Shepard during a career that amassed $352,194 in earnings and saw him earn the honor of NCHA Open World Champion Stallion.

His aged event highlights include a third in the NCHA Futurity Open and wins in the Augusta Futurity Classic/Challenge and the Southern Cutting Futurity Classic/Challenge.

Playful Bamacat’s $10,115 first-place check in the Limited Open pushed his sire’s progeny earnings to more than $615,590.

Bamacat was one of 13 sires to have an entrant among the 28-horse Limited Open finals. And, he was among five of those stallions sired by High Brow Cat. One horse with an entry in the finals was sired by High Brow Cat’s son, Smooth As A Cat.

2020 LIMITED OPEN SIRES # of entries
METALLIC CAT (by High Brow Cat)8
KIT KAT SUGAR (by High Brow Cat)4
REYZIN THE CASH (by Dual Rey)3
DUAL REY (by Dual Pep)2
SMOOTH AS A CAT (by High Brow Cat)1
SMART TIME PEPTO 10 (by One Time Pepto)1
HOTTISH (by Spots Hot)1
BAMACAT (by High Brow Cat)1
SANNMAN (by Peptoboonsmal)1
HIGH BROW CD (by High Brow Cat)1
DUAL SMART REY (by Dual Rey)1
ONCE IN A BLU BOON (by Peptoboonsmal)1

Playful Bamacat’s Mother

Harris and his father both rode Playful Bamacat’s dam, Playful Ricochet, during her 8-year-cutting career. Sam was the main pilot during the daughter of Smart Lil Ricochet’s aged event years for then-owner Marvine Ranch, with a highlight being the Derby Open Reserve Championship at the 2007 Augusta Futurity.

Austin also rode the mare a few times during her aged-event years. Sam continued to be the mare’s main rider through an ownership change Jerome Bradford, and Harris began sharing seat tie with his dad to show the mare in Youth events a few years later.

Playful Richochet showed for several more years for different riders, including a number of other Youth riders, before her show record ends in 2015. She retired with $84,218 in earnings.

Before Playful Bamacat, the mare had 10 money-earning foals with earnings of more than $147,846. Her leading earners are Playful Highbrow CD ($54,397, by High Brow CD) and Kisses On My Bottom ($34,207, by Hes A Peptospoonful).

The Limited Open Futurity Champion, Playful Bamacat, was bred by Jerome Bradford, of Hoschton, Georgia.