08/10/2006 11:00PM

Minshall operation in transition


Minshall Farms, the top-class racing and breeding operation founded by the late Aubrey Minshall in Ontario more than 30 years ago, will have a much different look in years to come.

While the popular brown and tan silks will still be seen at Woodbine, the players have changed, as Minshall's sons Shawn and Patrick have dissolved their partnership.

"Minshall Farms as we know it is no longer," said Barbara Minshall, Aubrey's widow, who has trained the horses for the family since 1995. Shawn and Patrick Minshall are from a previous marriage of Aubrey Minshall's.

"Shawn will remain as Minshall Farms, and Patrick will stay in the business, but as an individual owner under Amulet Farms and reduce his holdings."

Minshall said the family has divided up 92 horses of various ages, including broodmares, among the three of them, as well as another party who bought some of the horses but whom she declined to name.

"I am still going to train for Aubrey's sons, but we'll be individuals instead of a group," said Minshall, the Sovereign Award-winning trainer in 1996.

"The one big thing for me is that when I trained for Minshall Farms I signed a contract that I could only train Minshall horses, but now I can accept outside horses."

Aubrey Minshall was the man who raced Canadian racing greats such as multiple champions Bold Ruritana, Mt. Sassafras and Kiridashi, 25 years after purchasing his first horse for $3,700.

That purchase, Rushton's Corsair, was selected simply to be a riding horse, but went on to be Canada's champion 3-year-old colt in 1974.

Aubrey Minshall bred many top-class runners, including two-time sprint champion King Corrie (1991 and 1992), but died suddenly in 1993 because of complications from a stroke, leaving Barbara and Minshall's sons to continue his legacy.

They did quite well at it.

The heyday of the farm - the mid-1990's - saw its homebreds power through dozens of big races.

Minshall became the first woman trainer of a Canadian Triple Crown race, winning the Prince of Wales in 1996 with Kiridashi and again the next year with Stephanotis. In 1996, the gritty Mt. Sassafras wrapped up a championship season with a heroic run in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Woodbine, finishing fourth, a length from victory.

"The mid-90's were basically the result of what Aubrey had aimed his program to do," said Minshall. "I got the benefit of those years." Bold Ruritana, the champion turf mare of 1995, was "a great horse," said Minshall, "and so were Mt. Sassafras and Kiridashi."

Minshall said plans regarding the operation's two farms - one in Hillsburgh, Ontario, and one in Williston, Fla. - will be sorted out by the end of this month, but adds she will still be involved with the Florida farm.

"It's taken a long time to sort this out," said Minshall. "Shawn wants to have fewer horses but upgrade the quality."

Bold Ruritana and stakes winner One Emotion remain in the Minshall breeding band. Three yearlings bred by the farm are in the September yearling sale at Woodbine. They had already been slated for auction before the partnership dissolved.

Minshall is looking forward to the racing careers of Bold Ruritana's 2-year-old daughter Bold Overtures (by Silver Deputy) as well as of One on Tap, a Pleasant Tap filly out of One Emotion.

The current star of the stable is the revitalized the stakes-caliber turf runner Raw Power, who has overcome nagging foot problems and was gelded last year.

Minshall calls this a "rebuilding and regrouping" year but is hopeful of a big stable with outside clients in the future.

"Things change, but generally they change for the better," said Minshall. "It's kind of sad. We've been racing horses for 30 years, a stable that Aubrey built up. But we weren't going in the same direction. You have to go with the flow, and I'm pretty good at that."