When Harris Shepard returns to college Monday night, he’ll have plenty of good news to share with his classmates.
Shepard and Especially Thomas marked 217 to win the Futurity Non-Pro finals Saturday night. Harris became the third member of the Shepard family to win an Augusta Futurity championship joining his father, Sam, and his older brother, Austin. Together, the Shepards own a seven titles in Augusta.
Winning in Augusta holds extra meaning for Harris Shepard, who came to the show many times as a youth.
“This is pretty special,” he said. “That makes it even more special, having come here for a long time.”
The 18-year-old cutter, who lives in Verbena, Ala., with his parents, Sam and Pam, and his younger sister, Emma – he also has an older sister – earned $6,200 for his first aged-event victory. Barnwell Ramsey and Autumn Ruby Reys collected $5,200 after marking 216. Alexis Stephas and Once You Go Black finished third (215.5, $4,200).
Shepard is a freshman at Jefferson State Community College in Alabama. He emailed his professors to let them know he was going to miss a week of classes.
“They kind of know what I do,” he said. “They have a good idea. I just have to make up work.
“It’s nice to go back with some money in my pocket.”
In his first time showing in the Augusta Futurity last year, Shepard finished sixth in the Futurity Non-Pro finals. He learned the cows can be difficult in the finals. With that bit of banked knowledge, he also received some advice from Austin and Sam before Saturday’s final.
“They said go down there and have fun,” Harris said. “Don’t be too worried.”
Shepard and Especially Thomas, a mare by Thomas E Hughes out of Smart Ricochet owned by Sam Shepard, marked their score seventh in the first set of eight horses. The mare stopped so hard one time it almost fell down.
“It was real intense,” Harris Shepard said of the run. “Real fun, but real scary at the same time.
“She tries so hard. She’s got so much guts. She’s awesome. I’m very lucky to have her.”