06/27/2001 11:00PM

Jumps-to-flat switch works for Sheppard


What do you do with a multiple stakes-winning steeplechase horse whose last win in a jump race was almost two years ago?

For trainer Jonathan Sheppard, the answer was simple - switch him to the flat.

Addinson, a 5-year-old gelding whose last six races were all over hurdles, seemed to enjoy not having to leap over obstacles or carry in excess of 140 pounds. He adapted to the change well enough to score a half-length victory in a first-level allowance race over Delaware Park's turf course last Saturday, paying $6.60 as the favorite in the nine-horse field.

Getting a horse to win over hurdles and on the flat is nothing new for Sheppard, a Hall of Fame trainer. In fact, in 1971 at Delaware, Sheppard trained Wustenchief to victories in the Sussex Handicap, a flat race on turf, and the Indian River Steeplechase Stakes.

Addinson, who now has a lifetime record of 4 wins in 12 starts, was an easy winner of steeplechase stakes for novices at Camden and Far Hills in 1999. His only victory last season, however, came in a flat race for maidens on the turf at Philadelphia Park.

Sheppard explained that Addinson never developed after showing early promise as a jumper.

"He looked liked he was going to be a really good steeplechase horse," Sheppard said. "He won his first two starts as a 3-year-old, both in stakes company. But he was doing it like he was running wild and green. The next year, when he had to run against more seasoned horses, he was running against some of the best in the country and I guess he kind of lost his way a little bit. He ran some respectable races, but not quite up to what we thought he should."

Sheppard experimented by adding blinkers and running him on the flat.

"I wanted to try the flat a couple of times to see if he would mature and to get him to run the way we wanted him to," Sheppard said. "So, I guess you could say it was partially to try to make him into a better steeplechase horse and at that same time to see if we could pick up a little pocket money, too. Fortunately, it worked out great."

Sheppard's immediate plans are to keep Addinson on the flat, but he hasn't ruled out giving the horse another race over the jumps at Saratoga this summer.

Jostle may run in Delaware Cap

Trainer John Servis will nominate Jostle and her Fox Hill Farm stablemate Zenith to the Grade 3 Delaware Handicap, to be run on July 22.

Both fillies ran second in stakes last weekend. Jostle was a neck behind Critical Eye in the Grade 1 Hempstead Handicap at Belmont Park. Zenith finished 3 1/4 lengths behind Under the Rug in the $100,000 Obeah Stakes at Delaware.

Jostle came out of the Hempstead in fine shape, but Servis is going to wait until the weights are released before committing her to the Delaware Cap. "We are pointing for the Delaware Handicap, but it is going to depend on what kind of weight they give us on whether we will run or not," Servis said.

The alternative, according to Servis, is the Go for Wand Handicap at Saratoga on July 29.

Top Puerto Rican rider arrives

One of Puerto Rico's leading jockeys, Javier Santiago, is moving his tack here for the remainder of the season. Santiago, 23, who set a record as an apprentice at El Comandante with 278 winners in 1996, rode briefly here in 1997, winning nine races in 33 mounts.

Currently second at El Comandante with 80 wins, Santiago had two wins and five seconds from eight mounts during a three-day stint riding here in early June.

o Stauch, the 3-year-old rising star of Allen Iwinski's stable, scored his second straight victory, both on turf, last Sunday. Iwinski, who claimed Staunch for $25,000 at Calder last winter, said he intends to point the horse for the Grade 3 $250,000 Kent Breeders' Cup, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds, on July 22.