Updated 08/17/2012 07:00 PM
Jonathan Sheppard's Saratoga win streak stretches to 46 years
With Saratoga's horse racing history dating back more than 140 years, many great trainers have had long runs of success at The Spa. But as YNN's Matt Hunter reports, it's a pretty safe bet none of them have put together a win streak like Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard's.
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SARATOGA RACE COURSE -- Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hit streak in 1941. UCLA basketball's near three year run of 88 games without a loss. Cal Ripken Jr. taking the field 2,632 times before finally taking a day off. All records that are unlikely to be broken. All streaks that don't span nearly as much time as Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard's current run at Saratoga.
During Thursday's second race, a colt named History Boy brought home Sheppard's first win of the 2012 meet. The victory marked the 46th consecutive summer that the 71-year-old Englishman saddled a winner at the Spa.
"I didn't think about it, except for how nice it was,” Sheppard said. “Until it’s this year and all of a sudden we're half way through the meet and we haven't got a winner, I'm thinking maybe my streak is over."
Most known for being a champion steeplechase trainer, Sheppard has saddled roughly 3,000 winners on both the flat and jump disciplines. Before taking out his training license, he had a brief career as a steeplechase jockey.
His first summer training in Saratoga was 1966. His first win came the following August with a horse named Brandon Hill.
"We didn't run a lot of horses, maybe seven or eight,” Sheppard said. “I think a couple of them hit the board, but we didn't win that first year, so I guess our streak started the following year."
Because detailed records weren't kept going back to the start of his career, it's unknown exactly how many wins at Saratoga Shepherd has or if his streak is a standalone record. However, given the slim odds, it's almost impossible to think anyone else could have matched his long run of success.
"In any other walk of life, just doing something as well as he's doing it for 46 consecutive years is a testament to him and a good reason why he's been in the Hall of Fame for a long time," said YNN racing analyst Mike Kane, who’s covered Sheppard’s racing career for several decades.
Sheppard followed up Thursday's victory with a thrilling win at the wire on Friday.
It was yet another sweet moment in a career that's had no shortage of great memories.
"The whole thing, particularly in this atmosphere in Saratoga, is about as good as it gets," Sheppard said.