On Wednesday, the high temperature reached 14 degrees – 2 degrees with the wind chill – in Toronto.
For that reason alone, Shawn Minshall was glad to be in the much warmer climate of the deep South. In Augusta, temperatures climbed into the low 50s.
“Fortunately, we’re down here,” Minshall said. “It’s just wicked cold up there.”
Minshall can enjoy the weather at least another day. He and SVR Sweetness marked 215.5 to tie for second in the $100,000 Amateur for 4-Year-Olds go-round.
Darol Rodrock and Cat Daddy Moonshine won the go-round with 216, while Alexis Stephas and Once You Go Black tied for second. The top eight horses with scores of 211 or better advance to the finals, which begin at 6 tonight at James Brown Arena.
Minshall, whose family ties run deep with the Augusta Futurity, is making his first finals appearance. His father, Aubrey, made the finals and finished as reserve champion in 1982. Shawn competed in 1993 and took a long break before returning the past three years.
“I just had more time,” he said. “This is a beautiful show. We really enjoy coming here.”
The 56-year-old Minshall lives just outside of Toronto in Hillsburgh, Ontario, with his wife, Lisa, and daughter, Lauren. Minshall used to be in the gas grill manufacturing business. Now, he has a holding company, leases properties and raises thoroughbreds. And he remains busy with his cutting horses, which he keeps at trainer Gabe Reynolds’ farm in Kentucky.
“That’s a big passion of the whole family. We all enjoy cutting,” Minshall said. “We enjoy the racehorses, but I can’t ride the racehorses. I’m a little too big for that.”
The Minshall trio all made the two-day trek to Augusta, stopping at Reynolds’ place along the way. They try to stay fresh with their cutting, riding horses three days a week in their indoor, un-heated arena. They bundle up with gloves and jackets, but they remain dedicated to cutting despite the climate.
“It’s wicked up there,” Minshall said. “It’s brutal.”