Irv Naylor’s Able Deputy, who dominated last year’s David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3), will make his 2015 debut when he meets a highly competitive field in this year’s edition of the International Gold Cup’s featured $50,000 hurdle race on Saturday.
Trained by Cyril Murphy, Able Deputy drew clear to an 11-length victory in the 2 1/8-mile Ferguson in his second U.S. start. Saturday’s race will be his first start since the Ferguson, and Ross Geraghty again will ride him.
The owner, trainer, and jockey are coming off a blockbuster Far Hills meet on Oct. 17, when the owner and trainer won three stakes races and Geraghty rode two of those winners, including Naylor’s Dawalan in the Grand National (Gr. 1).
Trainer Jack Fisher also had a three-win day at Far Hills as he runs away to a fourth straight training title. The Maryland-based horseman has a notable Ferguson competitor in Overwhelming, who steps out of the novice ranks.
Woodslane Farm’s regally bred Hard Spun gelding most recently won Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 24. Sean McDermott will ride.
Magalen O. Bryant’s Gustavian had his finest moment at Belmont in 2013, when he won the Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). He returns to the races in the Ferguson after more than a year on the sidelines. Trainer Leslie Young tapped her husband, current leading jockey Paddy Young, to ride.
Virginia-based trainer Julie Gomena entered the double-barreled team of Stonelea Stables’ Balance the Budget and Over Creek Stables’ Arrakis. Balance the Budget won Aiken Spring’s Budweiser Imperial Cup (Gr. 3) and will be ridden by Kieran Norris, while Darren Nagle will ride Arrakis, second in a Virginia Fall Ratings Handicap on Oct. 10.
Kate Dalton has taken over the training of Flying Elvis Stable’s Diplomat, who was claimed from a victory in a Saratoga Race Course optional allowance hurdle and subsequently was seventh in Belmont’s Lonesome Glory. Bernie Dalton will ride.
Completing the field is Meritage Racing’s Inti, the upset winner of the 2013 Ferguson, when it last was staged at Colonial Downs. He was fourth in a Far Hills Ratings Handicap for trainer Murphy and will be ridden by Jack Doyle.
Here is the field for the $50,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) in post-position order.
Arrakis. 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Royal Academy—Quinn, by Theatrical (Ire). Owner: Over Creek Stables. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Iron County Farms (Ky.). 2015 record: 6-0-2-1, $11,850. 2014 record: No starts. Second in Virginia Fall Ratings Handicap after refusing to start in Monmouth allowance hurdle. Returned to the races after missing 2014 season and finished third in Aiken Spring optional allowance hurdle, then was second in Foxfield Spring’s Daniel Van Clief optional allowance hurdle. Won 2012 Charleston Cup optional allowance hurdle.
Inti (Uru). 2005 gr. or ro. g., Dubai Dust-Rigolina (Uru), by Ritz (Arg). Owner: Meritage Racing. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Haras Don Alfredo (Uru). 2015 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,750. 2014 record: 4-0-1-0, $21,250. Began 2015 campaign with fourth in Far Hills Ratings Handicap. Also fourth in 2014 Noel Laing Handicap after sixth in Far Hills’ Grand National (Gr. 1). Pulled 23.90-1 upset in Colonial Downs’ David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) in June 2013.
Diplomat. 2009 b. g., Kitten’s Joy—Waki Affair, by Miswaki. Owner: Flying Elvis Stable. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeders: Ken and Sarah Ramsey (Ky.) 2015 record: 6-2-0-0, $95,000. 2014 NSA record: No starts. Claimed from victory in Saratoga optional allowance hurdle on Sept. 2 and finished seventh in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). Led at last in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on Aug. 6 and faded to finish sixth, beaten 4 1/14 lengths. Began 2015 season with half-length victory in $75,000 Carolina Cup for novices. Bred by champion owners-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey and is a full brother to stakes-placed Kitten Love.
Gustavian. 2006 b. g., Giant’s Causeway–Mossflower, by Affirmed. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Paddy Young. Breeder: Whitewood Stable 2015 record: No starts. 2014 record: 2-0-2-0, $36,000. Finished second in 2014 Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at Middleburg Spring Races and Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Finished second in 2013 Grand National (Gr. 1) after winning Belmont’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1).
Overwhelming. 2010 b. g., Hard Spun—Oh What a Windfall, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Woodslane Farm. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Phipps Stable (Ky.) 2015 record: 4-2-1-0, $91,300. 2014 NSA record: 6-1-2-1, $27,250. Won Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths on Sept. 24. Had a rough trip when fifth in Saratoga optional allowance hurdle on Sept. 2. Won Saratoga allowance hurdle by 8 1/4 lengths on July 29. Won his maiden victory over fences at Colonial Cup in Camden, S.C., last fall.
Balance the Budget. 2009 ch. g., Bellamy Road—Every Day Is Good, by El Corredor. Owner: Stonelea Stable. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Liberation Farm & Oratis (Ky.). 2015 record: 5-1-1-0, $34,500. 2014 record: 7-1-1-2, $27,000. Finished second to emerging star in Shawan Downs Ratings Handicap on Sept. 24 after being pulled up in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Kicked away powerfully to win Aiken Spring’s 2015 Budweiser Imperial Cup (Gr. 3) by 21 lengths and was subsequently seventh in Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes and Parx Ratings Handicap.
Able Deputy (GB). 2007 b. g., Lomitas (GB)—Island Colony, by Pleasant Colony. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeders: Charles and David Hodge (GB). 2015 record: No starts. 2014 NSA record: 2-1-0-0, $30,000. Easily won International Gold Cup’s David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) in October 2014. In U.S. debut, finished a disappointing seventh in Virginia Fall’s W. Gary Baker Memorial despite formidable record from England. Won Worcester’s 2014 Toteplacepot Handicap.