09/17/2012 4:39PM

Delaware Park: Sheppard wins 3,000th race as trainer

Barbara D. Livingston
Jonathan Sheppard won his 3,000th race as a trainer Monday at Delaware Park.

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.