George Strawbridge Jr. got his first stakes win on the flat with the German-bred import *Wustenchef when the 6-year-old gelding won Delaware Park’s Sussex Turf Handicap over One For All.
*Wustenchef came to the U.S. when Strawbridge was in search of a jumper and instructed his 30-year-old trainer Jonathan Sheppard to find one. Sheppard went to Europe in December 1969 and was shown four horses by a friend, priced $80,000, $40,000, $40,000 and $25,000. “*Wustenchef was the $25,000 horse,” recalled Sheppard. “I liked him. Maybe I would have liked the others better if they hadn’t been so expensive.”
Shipped to Sheppard’s home and training headquarters in Unionville, Pa., *Wustenchef, who had started exclusively on the flat in France, was a stakes winner over hurdles in 1970 and won two more hurdle stakes – the Indian River at Delaware Park and Meadowbrook at Aqueduct – with the Sussex sandwiched in between by late July. The gelding was a ninth generation descendent of the all-time great Hungarian mare Kincsem.
Strawbridge, who at the time owned a farm in Chesapeake City, Md., explained why the stable name was Augustin. Initially he attempted to have the name registered as “Augustine” after Augustine Herman, the man who originally surveyed the Chesapeake City area and made the first map of Maryland. “But Mrs. [Allaire] duPont had registered a horse with The Jockey Club under that name. So they wouldn’t approve the use of Augustine for our stable name. They said it would be all right, though, if we dropped the letter ‘e’ from the end of it.”
Strawbridge bought his first racehorses in 1965, importing *George II and *Gaddo from England, with Sheppard making the purchases.
“Jonathan has been our one and only trainer ever since we got in the business,” said Strawbridge. “People say I’ve used good judgment in buying horses. Obviously, this isn’t true. Everything I’ve bought has been because of Jonathan’s urgings. It is he who deserves the credit for everything.”