07/25/2013 6:37PM

Saratoga: Sheppard continues streak

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Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Jonathan Sheppard has won at least one race at 45 consecutive Saratoga meets.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - It didn't take long for trainer Jonathan Sheppard to continue his remarkable streak at Saratoga.

Sheppard finished 1-2 in Thursday's $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Steeplechase Stakes as Martini Brother, under Darren Nagle, rallied from last to outfinish stablemate Barnstorming by a half-length.

It was the 45th consecutive year that Sheppard, a 72-year-old Hall of Famer, has won at least one race at a Saratoga meet.

[SARATOGA 2013: Complete meet coverage, exclusive DRF videos]

"Now the pressure's off," Sheppard said. "Regardless of that, this was our first runner of the meet, and that was not foremost in my mind. But it was pretty exciting when after they jumped the last fence my two horses were coming down the stretch together."

The only negative to running 1-2 in the race is that Sheppard owned Barnstorming. He trains Martini Brother for William Pape.

"I was just teasing with Bill Pape," Sheppard said. "I said, 'I was kind of rooting for my horse because I think I need the money more than you,' which is definitely true."
Martini Brother is an extremely well-bred 5-year-old, being by A.P. Indy out of the Grade 1-winning mare Island Sand. Unable to make it on the flats, Martini Brother is now 3 for 3 as a steeplechaser.

"He's an exciting young horse and I was very happy with my own horse, who's been kind of knocking on the door but just barely paying his own way, and that's about it," Sheppard said. "It was a big effort for him."

In a race that was completed without incident, Martini Brother covered the 2 1/16 miles in 3:50.18 and returned $7.30 as the second choice. The Sheppard exacta returned $92.