Rodman W. Moorhead III’s Class Bopper set all the pace under jockey Richard Boucher and drew away easily after the final fence to win the $50,000 David L. (Zeke) Ferguson Memorial by ten lengths at Colonial Downs on Sunday, July 11.
Irvin S. Naylor’s Dr. Bloomer, who had tracked the pace of the front-runner, finished second, 4 1/4 lengths ahead of Beverly R. Steinman’s Dark Equation. Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune, the 9-to-5 favorite in a field of eight, weakened late and finished fourth, a head behind Dark Equation.
Trainer Lilith Boucher, wife of Class Bopper’s jockey, had kept the five-year-old Virginia-bred in tune for steeplechase racing this year by running him in flat turf races. Winner of the 2009 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle for novice steeplechase horses in Pine Mountain, Ga., Class Bopper most recently finished fourth in a Pimlico Race Course optional claimer and fifth in a Colonial optional claimer on May 29.
With the withdrawal of Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) winner Slip Away, Class Bopper emerged as the probable front-runner, and Boucher immediately placed the Bop gelding on the front end with a clear lead over Mrs. George S. Sensor’s Riddle, ten-length winner of a steeplechase claiming race on the Colonial course on June 13.
As 9-to-5 second choice Riddle weakened after making a brief challenge to the leader on the final run down Colonial’s backstretch, Dr. Bloomer moved into second position behind Class Bopper. But he could not mount a serious attack on the front-runner, who opened a five-length margin after the final fence and extended his lead to the finish line.
Dark Equation, ridden by Jeff Murphy, surged after the final fence to overtake Divine Fortune in the final sixteenth. Riddle finished fifth, 2 1/4 lengths behind Divine Fortune. Sent off as the 4.80-to-1 third betting choice, Class Bopper ran the Ferguson’s 2 1/4 miles over National Fences in 4:05.58 on firm turf.