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One of a kind. Jonathan Sheppard

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  • One of a kind. Jonathan Sheppard

    If only they all were like him. I'm still very disappointed the Eclipse voters were so ignorant to have omitted him from even making the final three for Trainer category this year.

    While he's already in the National Racing Hall of Fame (class of 1990) for his steeplechase success this year was yet another feather in his cap. Oh well, the consolation is that he'll just keep bringing some standout, overlooked, under appreciated runners to US and Canadian tracks in turf and dirt, plus fences, and win.

    He'd be my first choice as trainer if I had a horse in that league. Bar none.

    The Daily Racing Form has a great article on the man's efforts - some excerpts below

    DRF Jan 14, 2010 "Training the way nature intended"

    "I don't think Jonathan's operation is comparable to anything anywhere," said trainer Graham Motion, who is based about 17 miles south of Sheppard's farm, at the Fair Hill training center. Motion worked on the farm with Sheppard from 1985 to 1990. "His system, the way he trains on the farm, it's very different than what you would see anywhere."

    Sheppard's operation is split between jumpers and flat-racers, centered in Pennsylvania with a handful of racetrack stalls at Delaware Park, Gulfstream Park, Saratoga, and Keeneland. His runners earned almost $5.5 million in 2009, 13th-highest among North American trainers. Sheppard won four Grade 1 flat races and three Grade 1 steeplechases in 2009 and 16 graded stakes for flat and steeplechase combined.
    North of the farm is Sheppard's original fast-work field, where King Ranch cattle were fattened for market over the summer. In the spring and fall, Sheppard sent his horses there to exercise.

    "It was a wonderful, wide-open field, and when I first started training, I kind of devised a course for work," Sheppard said. "For the first 15 or 20 years I trained, all the best horses did their work there, and the only time we used this field we use now was in the middle of the summer. Unfortunately, King Ranch stopped sending cattle up there, and the land was sold and divided, and we couldn't use it anymore. I don't think it's coincidence that for 18 straight years I was the leading jumping trainer, and pretty much the first year I had to switch fields, I wasn't anymore. It took me quite awhile to figure out how to readjust the work."
    Forgotten perhaps is that in 1985 his operations worked a colt who was in the Breeders Cup Juvenile: Storm Cat

    "I don't suspect I feed my horses much different than anyone else," Sheppard said. "They don't work much faster at the track. But we've done better than a lot of people. So, why? I have to think this is a lot to do with it, the closer-to-nature style. My vet tells me we have far less incidence of respiratory problems than any of the people he goes to, eventing people, racetrack people. Instead of giving it a break, letting nature take its course, people tend to call in the vet. In the long run, it hurts the horse."

    There are more places for exercise on the farm: the road, for instance. Lamborntown Road used to be dirt, but even now, when paved, it serves as a jogging site. The truck rolled past a schoolhouse, the end-point for short jogs, and turned around at a small bridge, a destination for longer roadwork.

    "Horses particularly that have tendon problems or soft-tissue injuries, jogging on the road sometimes really helps them," Sheppard said.
    As for 2010:

    Cloudy's Knight, faced with a challenge less stern, won his first race back, and in 2010 Sheppard hopes to make history with this horse.

    "I've been told that records indicate no 10-year-old has ever won a Grade 1 stakes," Sheppard said. "We'd like to do that."
    Don't bet against him. He sent out a steeplechase runner - Sermon of Love at Saratoga in 2009 - into a flat track race which was utterly unheard of trying. Sermon of Love won the race at very high odds. Amazing bettors were underestimating Sermon of Love (or Sheppard) and what was a cake walk: the race before for 'Sermon' he carried 162 pounds and finished third at a distance of three miles. Going less then 2 miles and shedding almost 40 pounds .... hello winners circle

  • #2
    Sheppard not being nominated for a 2009 Eclipse is one of the biggest "mistakes" or more properly "injustices" I've ever seen. I admit to being an unabashed fan of Jonathan's but he had an amazing season with a fraction of the horses the nominees have. He has a nominee for sprint mare and 'chaser. How often does THAT happen!??
    F O.B
    Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
    Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique

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    • #3
      Ridiculous. He deserves it as much - or more than anyone else.
      Different Times Equestrian Ventures at Hidden Spring Ranch
      www.DifferentTimesEquestrianVentures.com

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      • #4
        While I agree he shouldn't be overlooked, he was, so let's turn our attention to God, Buddha, or what/who ever you choose and pray that it isn't ASSmussen again.
        "Everyone will start to cheer, when you put on your sailin shoes"-Lowell George

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Linny View Post
          Sheppard not being nominated for a 2009 Eclipse is one of the biggest "mistakes" or more properly "injustices" I've ever seen. I admit to being an unabashed fan of Jonathan's but he had an amazing season with a fraction of the horses the nominees have. He has a nominee for sprint mare and 'chaser. How often does THAT happen!??
          I agree completely. I love his style of training; he's a fantastic horseman with more sense and understanding of the horse than most.

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