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Delaware Park: Sheppard wins 3,000th race as trainer
By Marty McGee
Jonathan Sheppard notched the 3,000th victory of his illustrious career Monday when Fugitive Angel was up in the final jumps to capture the seventh race at Delaware Park in Stanton, Del.
Sheppard became the 28th trainer in North American racing history to hit the milestone. The 71-year-old Englishman is one of the most accomplished trainers in the game, having been inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in 1990 as arguably the all-time greatest trainer of steeplechase horses in America.
“I’m very happy and pleased,” Sheppard said. “I came up on the milestone a little quicker than I thought. I feel very lucky, because I’ve still got a full stable of horses at my age. The owners have been very supportive. They’ve been great.”
Sheppard came to the United States in 1961 before winning his first race as a trainer, a steeplechase event, in 1966. His horses have won 12 Eclipse Awards, most recently Forever Together (2008) and Informed Decision (2009) on the flat. A little more than 1,000 of his career wins have come in steeplechase races. His primary base is his spacious farm in southeastern Pennsylvania, and his top client has been the Augustin Stable of George Strawbridge Jr., who has raced horses with Sheppard for more than 45 years.
Augustin is the breeder and owner of Fugitive Angel, a 5-year-old Pennsylvania-bred mare who has won five stakes, most notably the Grade 3 Valley View at Keeneland in 2010. Ridden by Alex Cintron, she returned $5.20 in posting her seventh career win in the 7 1/2-furlong turf race.
Sheppard won No. 2,999 on Thursday at Delaware with a horse named Starry before four of his runners were defeated leading up to No. 3,000 on Monday. He had another starter, Armarante, finish well back of Fugitive Angel in the milestone race.
The most recent trainer to get 3,000 wins was Dale Capuano at Laurel Park in February. The late Dale Baird is the all-time leading trainer with 9,445 wins, followed by Jack Van Berg and King Leatherbury.
Don't remind me of With Anticipation, Big Jeff! I don't think there has been any horse since the advent of the Breeders Cup that was more unjustly denied an Eclipse Award in his division. He was 7 years old in 2002, and he won the Man O War, Sword Dancer, and United Nations (all Grade Ones), and finished second in the Turf Classic and Woodford Reserve (also Grade Ones). But when he came up a scant 1/2 length short in the BC Turf to High Chapparal, I guess the Eclipse voters decided that none of that meant anything. By running in, and winning ONE race in this country in 2002, High Chapparal was honored with the divisional Eclipse Award over a North American horse that paid his dues with honor and deserved it infinitely more. I don't usually get my knickers in a knot over the Eclipse Awards, but this one still rankles me even 10 years later! Jonathan Sheppard? He hasn't been in the Hall Of Fame for 22 years by accident! And the fact that he joins the 3,000 club by training turf and steeplechase horses in North America makes that milestone even more impressive! Congratulations Mr. S.!
One of the best in the game. Never hear a negative word about him. Used to really like With Anticipation.
Shep Shep all day
Shep, kudos on your magnificent accomplishments. Perhaps, using your considerable influence, you can get Delaware Park to bring back some of their traditional steeplechase stakes. I was told they discontinued them due to a rider getting hurt and suing the track. That does not seem to be a problem at Saratoga and many other leading venues.
And Shep is showing no sign of slowing down.
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