Tuesday, August 25, 2009

18-year-old apprentice wins Laurel title

Apprentice jockey Dusty Shepherd capitalized on the white-hot barn of trainer Jerry Robb to capture the riding title at Laurel Park's 11-day summer meet that ended Sunday.

Shepherd, 18, whose older brother Justin is also a jockey, rode 10 winners, six for Robb, to edge Anna Napravnik and Rosemary Homeister Jr. by one win to finish atop the jockey standings. Both of Shepherd's parents are also involved in the sport, Sherri as a trainer and Dave as a jockey.

Shepherd credited his agent, Mark Rosenthal, for getting him aboard live mounts.

"My agent had Robb's barn lined up and his horses have run huge the last two weeks," Shepherd said. "I am hoping to build on this success for the fall."

Robb was 7 for 9 with two second place finishes during the mini-meet to capture his first training title at the major Maryland tracks since the 2004 winter meet. The average win payoff on Robb's winners was $15.60.

The Maryland Jockey Club does not release final handle figures for the mini-meet.

Live racing in Maryland shifts to Timonium for the Maryland State Fair meet on Friday before returning to Laurel for the balance of the year on Sept. 12. The fall season will be highlighted by the 24th annual Jim McKay Maryland Million on Sept. 26 and the Grade 1 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash on Oct. 24.