Sheppard wins feature steeplechase
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Winning the Grade I $250,000 New York Turf Writers Cup doesn't get old for Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, not even after his 14th victory in the race at Saratoga Race Course.
“Not really, no,” Sheppard said. “I hope I can do it again.”
Sheppard bred and owns Italian Wedding, who was second in the A.P. Smithwick Memorial earlier at the meet and got up late for the win in on Thursday.
Jockey Bernard Dalton kept Italian Wedding off the pace but close enough to make his move entering the final turn of the 2 3/8 -mile steeplechase for horses 4 and older. He had the lead early in the stretch and held off the late charge of All Together to win by a length. All Together edged Martini Brother by a head for second. Martini Brother was another of Sheppard's horses in the race and part of a three-horse entry that also included seventh-place Divine Fortune. Sheppard also trained eighth-place Hunt Ball.
“[Italian Wedding] had been training very well,” Sheppard said. “We've worked hard with all of these horses trying to get them ready for this meet. Obviously, it's kind of a showcase for our sport. We do the best we can to get them ready, and then the chips fall where they may. You never quite know how it's going to unfold. I had three other horses, and I was very proud of Martini Brother for his first time in open company. The other two were a little more disappointing, but let's savor the moment for the time being.”