Jonathan Sheppard passes $20-million milepost
The victory of Bill Pape’s Dugan in a $15,000 open claiming race at the Aiken Fall meet on Oct. 29 would appear to be barely a footnote in the illustrious career of Dugan’s trainer, Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard. But the half-length victory had considerable historic meaning.
Dugan’s $9,000 winning purse raised Sheppard’s career winnings in National Steeplechase Association races to $20,002,192. The British-born trainer, 70, is the first in the American sport ever to pass the $20-million mark. His closest competitor, Jack Fisher, is approaching $10-million in career purse earnings.
The $20-million milepost is the second in two years for Sheppard. Arcadius’s victory in the $100,000 Helen Haskell Sampson (Gr.1) at Monmouth Park in September 2010 was Sheppard’s 1,000th win over fences. Through the Aiken meet, he had 1,017 wins, the most ever for a trainer in American steeplechasing.
Sheppard easily won the 2010 trainer titles by victories (26) and earnings ($809,930) last year, and he is in the thick of the hunt for the 2011 titles. He has a sizable lead by purse winnings over Fisher and trailed Tom Voss by one win, 15 to 14, for the title by wins. That title will be settled at the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup in Camden, S.C., on Nov. 19.