Flashing the stellar form that he had shown in his native England, Irv Naylor’s Able Deputy took control in the stretch of Great Meadow Race Course and drew clear to a convincing victory in Saturday’s $50,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial Stakes (Gr. 3), the featured hurdle race of the International Gold Cup.
Andre Brewster’s and Sheila J. Williams’ veteran stakes winner All Together finished second, and Magalen O. Bryant’s Casual Creeper ran a strong race to finish third. Gregg Ryan’s Spy in the Sky finished fourth in a field of eight.
Trained by Cyril Murphy, Able Deputy scored by 11 lengths while running the Ferguson’s 2 1/2 miles in 4:55.60 on firm turf at course in The Plains, Va.
The International Gold Cup, one of the fall’s premier race meets, was raced under ideal conditions, sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s. The nine-race program offered pari-mutuel wagering on all races.
As expected, multiple stakes winner Pleasant Woodman went to the lead immediately in the Ferguson and set a pace that, on the second circuit was contested by Casual Creeper. The pressure and the distance proved too much for Pleasant Woodman, who faded in the final quarter-mile.
Ross Geraghty pressed Able Deputy toward the lead turning into Great Meadow’s homestretch, and the seven-year-old Lomitas (GB) gelding pulled away in deep stretch.
The victory marked a return to form for Able Deputy, who had won four steeplechase handicaps in England this past summer before being purchased by Naylor and imported. He ran a uncharacteristically dull race in his U.S. debut, Virginia Fall’s $40,000 W. Gary Baker Memorial on Oct. 4, and finished seventh.
The Baker Memorial was won by Jack Fisher-trained All Together, who picked up the Ferguson’s second money under Sean McDermott.