Jonathan Sheppard, American Steeplechasing’s all-time leading trainer, showed emphatically that he is ready for the 2013 racing season when he swept all four races at the inaugural Charleston Trials at Stono Ferry Race Course on Sunday, March 17.
The inaugural spring program at the Hollywood, S.C., course featured four training races, and the Racing Hall of Fame trainer kicked off the card with a three-quarter-length victory by his Brilliant Match in the one-mile maiden flat race. Danielle Hodsdon rode the winner.
The second flat race, an open contest at 1 3/8 miles, featured the match-up of Country Cousin and Cuse, both nominated to the $50,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup (Gr. 3) at the Aiken Spring Steeplechase on Saturday, March 23. But Sheppard stole the show when his Bluegrass Summer won by three-quarters of a length over Oakwood Stable’s Country Cousin. Karen Gray’s Cuse finished third.
Bernie Dalton rode Bluegrass Summer, and he also was aboard Bill Backer’s Tuxedo Park for a one-length score in the first division of the 1 7/8-mile maiden training hurdle. For the second division, Sheppard put Mark Watts in the irons for Inauguration’s 1 1/2-length victory. Inauguration is owned by Ed Swyer’s Hudson River Stables.